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