How Your Parents' Divorce Effects Your Relationships & Sexuality • Psych N Sex
Health & Emotions

How Your Parents’ Divorce Effects Your Relationships & Sexuality

July 11, 2017


How Your Parents’ Divorce Effects Your Relationships & Sexuality

As current statistics state, about 50% of marriages end in divorce. Sadly, not very surprising. It actually seems more remarkable when you find out someone’s parents aren’t divorced these days.

Though divorce is far from uncommon, it’s effects are still very real. Our upbringings affect us to a baffling extent. There’s a freeing quality in understanding our upbringings as it gives us the power to understand ourselves, our actions, our thought-processes, and our dispositions with a little more clarity.

In that sense, I began to question whether my parents’ separation not only had an effect on my attitude towards relationships but to my sexuality as well. If you or your partner are a child of divorce, perhaps you’re wondering the same.

I was always aware that my parents’ relationship was less than ideal, and I was equally aware of the fact that they wouldn’t remain married forever. Thinking back now, that’s a pretty tragic understanding for a young child. When they finally took the plunge and filed for divorce just as I was about to go into my freshman year of high school. It was an especially stressful time in my life, and although I didn’t realize it then, it might have helped to shape the way that I perceive and relate to both relationships and sexuality.


I recently came across a study which found that there is, in fact, a link between “father-absence” or divorce and a female’s reproductive development. The study looked at many factors including the age in which a girl’s parents divorced.

Women whose parents separated between birth and 6 years of age experienced twice the rate of early menstruation, were 4 times more likely to have early intercourse and were at 2.5 times greater risk for early pregnancy. Also, the longer a woman lived with both parents during her upbringing, the lower her likelihood of early reproductive development was. Basically, both early menstruation and early sexual activity turned out to be in correlation with the divorce of the subjects’ parents (Whoa). We tend to only think of the psychological effects a traumatic event like a divorce can have on the minds of children, but we rarely consider how it can affect the body on a biological level.

It was also discovered that women who experienced significant changes in the family environment at a young age were more likely to be above the median number of sexual partners than those who experienced no changes. A divorce during the adolescent years (12-18) is a clear factor in having a high number of sexual partners, as well as a greater chance of going through a divorce themselves. Whether a woman lived with her mother or father post-separation didn’t make a significant difference in the results, only the amount of time living with a single parent.

It is believed by the researchers that the environment post-separation can also create a stress response in the women as young girls, causing an early onset of menstruation. It could also be that girls going through a divorce in the family miss out on a specific quality of “social learning.” Since daughters tend to model their mother’s sexual behavior, whether that may be an insecurity surrounding sex after the divorce or a new found “sexual-freedom.” Plainly stated- Separation between one’s parents can have a substantial effect on their psychological and sexual development.

it’s difficult and often impossible to unlearn our learned behaviors and understandings, but gaining knowledge about why we think or act the way we do could not be more valuable. Acknowledging the potential effects my parent’s divorce has had on me has given me a sense of self-awareness that I feel I have been lacking.We are products of our upbringings, and understanding them to the fullest extent possible will help us understand ourselves, and navigate both around and within our conditioning.

divorce - psychnsex


Quinlan, Robert J. “Father Absence, Parental Care and Female Reproductive Development”. Evolution and Human Behavior. Department of Anthropology, Ball State University. 19 Jun. 2003. Web. 22 June 2017.

Abrams, Abigail. “Divorce Rate In U.S. drops to Nearly 40-Year Low”. TIME. TIME U.S.. 04 Dec. 2016. Web. 22 June 2017.

One Comment
  1. Sarah

    I love this! I think there is more research now indicating the link between mental health and body... In fact, some researchers think they may be the same! Amazing stuff coming out of the brain health field today. Love this perspective tying traumas of all sizes to body health

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