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Many Single Parents Have Active Sex Life

Many Single Parents Have Active Sex Life

New research counters the notion that a single parent of a child younger than five has a limited social life, if a social life at all.

Researchers from the Kinsey Institute discovered single parents of children younger than five date and are sexually active as often as singles without children — and more so than single parents of older children.

The study is published online in the Journal of Sex Research.

“This data is counter to theory and what was previously assumed about patterns of dating and sexual behavior among U.S. singles,” said Justin Garcia, Ph.D., an evolutionary biologist, and research scientist at The Kinsey Institute.

“Our data sample is large enough that it allows for analyses like this to be informative about the intimate lives of single parents.”

Male and female parents of young children experience hormonal changes that can affect their sexuality.

“There has been a modest amount of research on the sexuality of parents, particularly mothers,” said Peter Gray, Ph.D., associate professor of anthropology at University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“That small body of research suggests that, while it takes sex to have a child, a child can have a disruptive effect on parents’ sex life

“This new study was unusual in focusing upon the sexual and dating behavior of single parents rather than partnered parents of young children.”

“We know that on average, singles have relatively less sexual activity than coupled people — singles tend to have lower rates of sexual frequency likely because they have to first find a partner to have sex with,” Garcia said.

“And, for single parents, there is only so much time and so much energy to be used for a variety of competing demands in their life. Without the help of a partner, singles often have to divert more energy to parenting and so in theory one might think single parents would not be dating as much. But that’s not what we found.”

The authors described humans as “cooperative breeders” because of the amount of care children require.

From an evolutionary perspective, the single moms and dads — the study found no gender differences — may be looking for a partner to help with the kids but also to provide adult company.

Researchers followed 5,805 single adults (2,830 single women and 2,975 single men), with 84 percent noting previous romantic relationship experiences.

The sample included heterosexual (86.2 percent), gay/lesbian (10.6 percent), and bisexual (3.2 percent) singles.

Of this sample, a total of 2,121 were single parents; and 342 were single parents with children five or younger.

Source: University of Indiana

Intimate couple photo by shutterstock.

Many Single Parents Have Active Sex Life

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Many Single Parents Have Active Sex Life. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 25, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 24 Sep 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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