Everyone in the world has different ideas on sex, relationships and marriage. People are so opinionated about what age is best, whether or not you should wait until marriage or if you should avoid it altogether. But this study done by the University of Texas at Austin is defining some of these blurred lines with data, and it might shock you.
The study looked at 1,659 adolescents, divided them into groups and followed them from the ages 16-29. The first group consisted of kids under 15 (early), the second group consisted of teenagers ages 15-19 (on-time) and adults 19 and older (late).
The "late" group (ages 19 and older) had higher education and higher household income than the other two groups. This wasn't a surprise, but that wasn't the only thing they found.
The researchers discovered that the individuals in the "late" group who were married or living with someone had "significantly lower levels of relationship dissatisfaction in adulthood." Even after considering genetic and environmental factors, the finding still stood strong.
The study states, "[The finding] could not be explained by differences in adult educational attainment, income, or religiousness, or by adolescent differences in dating involvement, body mass index, [sic] or attractiveness."
So, why are people who waited to have sex more satisfied with their relationships later in life? The study gives a few reasons that make a lot of sense:
When people wait until later in life to be intimate, they might be a little pickier when it comes to partners. Because of this, they might have a hard time finding someone suitable for their standards, but they'll be happier in their relationship when they do find someone — which is why married adults have less dissatisfaction in relationships.
Relational aggression happens often with teenagers, specifically girls. This can include any type of bullying and shaming. When this happens to teenage girls (and it happens often), it can traumatize them and result in "detrimental effects on later romantic outcomes."
The brain doesn't fully develop until the teenage years are over, and adolescents don't have the mental capacity to process what's happening when they have sex. When emotionally and cognitively stable adults engage in intimacy, they're able to process it and have a healthy relationship.
Taking time to date and really get to know people throughout the teenage years without having sex is extremely beneficial to adult relationships and marriages. Mature adults know how to handle tough situations, and they know how to navigate and build strong relationships and marriages.
So there you have it: Science says that it's best to wait to be intimate with a partner. You can ultimately do what's best for you, but you might want to take some of these points into consideration either for yourself or for your children (when you get to have the talk).