Midwesterners are less likely than people from other regions to cheat on their partners, according to a new survey on dating and marriage that covers everything from prenuptial agreements to open relationships — and everything in between.
The survey, sponsored by Avvo, an online attorney directory, asked 2,001 married and unmarried adults a series of questions about their relationship attitudes, in an attempt to understand some of the issues that typically send people in search of legal advice.
“I think one thing we’re seeing is the customization of marriage, where people kind of set it up the way they want — and that’s a good thing,” said noted sexologist Pepper Schwartz, professor of sociology at the University of Washington, who consulted with Avvo on the question selection and the interpretation of the data. “The more informed people are, the more careful they’ll be, and marriage is a big step.”
▪ Midwesterners are the most faithful romantic partners in the country, with just 10 percent of all Midwesterners reporting they’ve had sexual relations with someone outside of their relationship, and just 7 percent of married Midwesterners saying so. That compares with 16 percent of all Northeasterners, 17 percent of Southerners and 20 percent of people who live in the West.
“Communities in the Midwest have less ingress and egress, which is to say they tend to be more stable,” Schwartz said. “That has a conservatizing influence. If you’re around all people you know, if you’re still friends with the people you went to high school with, that makes a big difference. The Northeast and West have a lot of people coming and going — a lot of them looking to get rid of the obligations and traditions they grew up with.”
▪ Sixteen percent of all Americans admit having cheated on their current partner, 20 percent of men and 13 percent of women admitting to outside-the-relationship dalliances.
▪ A significant number of people wouldn’t necessarily leave a partner who proposed an open relationship. Forty-five percent of respondents said they “would not leave” or “might or might not leave” if their partner wanted to sleep with other people, while 55 percent of people said it would be a relationship deal breaker.
▪ Forty-six percent said they “aren’t morally opposed” or are “somewhat neutral” to the idea of open relationships. Fifty-four percent are morally opposed.
“Many of these men and women have already had a number of partners,” Schwartz said. “So they can grasp how sex outside the relationship can happen, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t love your partner. They can understand a wandering eye.”
Then again, just 4 percent of all Americans say they’ve had or are having an open relationship.
▪ Prenuptial agreements remain rare in America — the survey says just 2 percent of Americans have them. But most people aren’t opposed to them: Just 20 percent of male respondents and 19 percent of female respondents said that if their partner asked for a prenup, they would doubt their partner’s feelings for them.
▪ Slightly more than half of Americans believe in staying together even when the romance is gone from a marriage. When asked whether they agree or disagree with the statement, “Just because the spark is gone in a marriage doesn’t mean you should get a divorce,” 51 percent of respondents agreed. Broken down by gender, 50 percent of men agreed with the statement, while 53 percent of women agreed.
▪ Finally, a full 70 percent of Americans reported being “very satisfied” in their relationships, and 24 percent said they’re “somewhat satisfied,” leaving just 5 percent who said they’re “not very satisfied” and 1 percent who are “not at all satisfied.”
“It’s heartening, and this is not the only study that’s found those results,” said Schwartz, who said she worked on another survey of more than 100,000 adults worldwide and discovered “a huge number of people said they were both happy and satisfied.”