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Half of college-aged adults not opposed to open relationships, avvo study finds

A 2015 Avvo, Inc. study of relationship trends across the United States finds that half of college-aged Americans are not opposed to being in an open relationship, which is defined as a relationship in which both parties consent to sleeping with others. Only 49% of Americans aged 18-23 and 43% of those aged 24-32 saying they are morally opposed to the idea of open relationships, as compared to 56% of people over age 33.keep-calm-i-m-in-an-open-relationship-1
Noted sociologist and sexologist Dr. Pepper Schwartz from the University of Washington attributes this acceptance of open relationships to experimentation that is common in this age group. “When we’re young and out in the world on our own for the first time, we’re more apt to experiment with our romantic relationships and be open to new experiences when it comes to love and sex,” Schwartz said. “As this generation ages, it will be interesting to see if their views will evolve to accept open relationships less, or if they will continue to accept the idea of open relationships as they marry.”
A desire for marriage may kick in shortly after graduation but then wane again once individuals become entrenched in their mid-thirties. In fact, when it comes to seeing marriage as a life goal, college-aged Americans may be more like their parents than those only a few years older than them. Specifically, a quarter (25%) of Americans 24-32 say marriage should be a life goal, whereas 20% of 18-23 year-olds 17% of those over age 33 feel the same. College-aged individuals are also more like their parents when it comes to attitudes around the relevance of marriage as an institution: 12% of 18-23 year-olds and 8% of those 33 and over believe that marriage is an outdated institution; compare this with 19% of those 24-32 who believe the same.
“Young adulthood carries a unique set of expectations around the future,” Schwartz said. “Social norms have shifted over the past few decades such that the institution of marriage isn’t as sacrosanct as it used to be. But the idea of pairing up in a long-term relationship and having children is still a part of being a grown-up. ”
College-aged individuals differ from their parents when it comes to associating children with marriage. Only 15% of Americans 18-23 believe that an unwed couple who has a child together should get married. In contrast, 24% of those 24-32 and 22% of those 33 and over believe the same.
All age groups appear to have similar views when it comes to divorce where romance, or a “spark,” fading is an issue: approximately three-quarters of all age groups disagree that married couples who no longer want to be in a romantic relationship – or who’ve lost that “lovin’ feeling” with their spouse – should definitely get a divorce.
“With divorce rates trending upward overall over the past 50 years, and with many of these young adults growing up in homes where divorced parents and remarriage were the norm, it comes as no surprise that there is a significant number of people who believe that divorce is a reasonable and validated choice when romance fades,” Schwartz said. “The percent of young people who are less invested in marriage as an institution shows a generational vision of marital fragility and perceived limits to the idea of life-time marriage.”
For more information about the study, visit
About this study
Avvo conducts periodic studies of topics at the intersection of lifestyle and the law to better understand the issues facing individuals engaging with attorneys and the legal system. Given that divorce and family law are two of the largest and most routine legal actions taken in the United States, understanding the relationship dynamics that lead to marriage and divorce is beneficial to the legal consumers and attorneys Avvo serves.
“Avvo is committed to understanding American social and cultural experiences so that we can really know the people we seek to help,” said Nika Kabiri, director of consumer insights at Avvo. “We conduct several consumer studies a year and use what we learn to help people in ways that are most meaningful to them.”
Avvo lawyers answer questions about divorce, prenuptial agreements, and family law in the company’s Q&A forum everyday and are featured in the Avvo directory, which includes profiles on 97% of licensed attorneys in the United States. Attorneys are also available to answer on-demand questions about divorce through Avvo Advisor, which provides 15-minutes of legal counsel from a qualified attorney in your state for $39.
For additional resources about marriage and divorce from Avvo, or to find a divorce or family lawyer in your area, visit

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