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Youtuber Louis Rossman has said in one of his videos that

There are studies on this; there is a direct correlation between number of sexual partners and likelihood of failed marriage, based on real marriages. These are not made up statistics.

He claims that there are studies behind this and that they would be in the description of his video, but they are not.

What truth is there behind this claim?

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    @Peter That is not what this question is stating, nor inciting. I laid the claim out word by word, and I put my question exactly as I meant it. – tuskiomi Jul 26 '17 at 18:53
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    The title says "divorce", but the body says "failed marriage"; are they supposed to be the same? My grandmother had a failed marriage for decades, but she only got divorced very recently. – Erik Jul 26 '17 at 19:46
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    @CPerkins this Louis Rossmann guy has 300k subscribers so he's famous so it's a notable claim, and if you read through the highest voted questions you see a bunch of "I found this pic on the internet" "Is it true that..." maybe the standards are a bit too tight nowadays – daniel Jul 26 '17 at 21:27
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    @Oddthinking: Why does a mere 600 likes make something notable? I could fake that by hand. – jamesqf Jul 27 '17 at 5:17
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    @tuskiomi: There were very valid points raised. The whole question is much less clear-cut than you are making it to be. To recap: 1) What constitutes a "failed marriage"? Being unhappy? Living apart? Divorce? 2) What constitutes "sexual partners"? Before marriage? During marriage? Lifetime? -- We could say that much of this "you had / have other partners, we fail" is culturally induced. So what's the correlation, being sexually active / emotional failure, or stupid cultural conventions / conventions failure? ;-) – DevSolar Jul 27 '17 at 13:41
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From Counterintuitive Trends in the Link Between Premarital Sex and Marital Stability:

This research brief shows that the relationship between divorce and the number of sexual partners women have prior to marriage is complex. I explore this relationship using data from the three most recent waves of the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) collected in 2002, 2006-2010, and 2011-2013. For women marrying since the start of the new millennium:

  • Women with 10 or more partners were the most likely to divorce, but this only became true in recent years;
  • Women with 3-9 partners were less likely to divorce than women with 2 partners; and,
  • Women with 0-1 partners were the least likely to divorce.

Live Science writes about the study I cited above:

Virginity and stability

Still, the study found that having more sexual partners was associated with reduced marital stability. Women who married as virgins were less likely to divorce within five years across all three waves of the study — just 11 percent in the 1980s and 6 percent in the 2010s.

But women who reported two sexual partners had the highest divorce rates in the 1980s and 1990s, the study found. For instance, in the 1980s, about 28 percent of these marriages dissolved within five years; by comparison, 18 percent of marriages ended when the women had more than 10 premarital sexual partners.

...

By the 2000s, women who had more than 10 sexual partners saw their marriages dissolve within five years almost 33 percent of the time, the study found.

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    How is this "most certainly true"? The link you quote here suggests that the effect peaks at 2 sexual partners. The highlighted passage is misleading with regards to a positive correlation between number of sexual partners and likelihood of divorce. – Paul Jul 27 '17 at 9:45
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    The linked article literally opens with "When it comes to sex before marriage, a lot may be better than a little.", which is the exact opposite of the claim made in the answer. – Erik Jul 27 '17 at 10:58
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    The article states that a woman who only ever had two sexual partners -- her husband and one other -- is more likely to divorce than either a woman who only had her husband or a woman who had more partners. As the average number of sexual partners is higher than two (four for women in the USA), I don't see a positive correlation between number of sexual partners and likelihood of divorce. – DevSolar Jul 27 '17 at 13:53
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    @T.Sar - Your opinion must be correct, because it's your opinion, right? First you say the numbers don't support the conclusion, then when clarified for you, they are wrong, because you know the answer... – anongoodnurse Jul 27 '17 at 21:50
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    +1; the cited study does appear to have useful information. It also seems reasonable to say that there's a positive correlation in the 2000 series, though the same doesn't seem quite as true for either the 1980 or 1990 series. The unreliability of this correlation over those periods strongly suggests that it's not reliably causative, but rather something else appears to be at play. For example, women who had no premarital sex always had the lowest divorce rates; this may reflect the personality/upbringing of those women more than a consequence of their chastity. – Nat Jul 28 '17 at 1:29
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Without giving sources to evaluate, I would be extremely skeptical of this or any other claim. In this specific case, it would be extremely hard to take into account or adjust for the changing attitude towards divorce and to separate that from effect of the number of pre-marital partners. Further, there are many other factors that can have a greater impact on whether or not a marriage lasts. Daily Beat list a number of factors, apart from the obvious like communication skills, that may play a role.

As a rule, I would be skeptical of any sweeping claim made about a complex subject like marriage. (BTW, I had multiple partners, was engaged twice and my wife had several partners and was engaged once before we were married and we're on our 30th year).

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    This answer does not qualify for skeptics because it is not referenced, to ensure high quality answers all answers must come with references. Pleaes check the "Help" center for more details. – user1605665 Jul 28 '17 at 5:52

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