Men’s Internet Habits May Keep Them from Saying ‘I Do’

Declining marriage rates tied to watching pornography

When it comes to marriage, there are plenty of reasons people decide to tie the knot. Love and commitment likely top the list, but of course, sex is a big part of that union. For some unmarried men, another sexual outlet may actually be delaying — and, in some cases, replacing — marriage.

Watching pornography may lead to a greater chance of avoiding marriage, this study suggests.

“We asked ourselves, what is helping determine whether people are married or not?” said study author Dr. Michael Malcolm, a professor at the University of West Chester in Pennsylvania, in an interview with The Washington Post. “One of those things, we thought, could be the use of pornography.”

This study, conducted by the Institute for the Study of Labor in Germany, found a potential tie between watching porn online and avoiding marriage.

The reason? Sex is easier these days to get outside of marriage and even outside of a relationship, Dr. Malcolm and team wrote.

These researchers noted that other studies had been done on prostitution and the relationship between men opting for that casual sex versus a sexual relationship that could end in monogamy and marriage. Following that trend, they set out to see whether men used porn to fill a need traditionally filled by a wife in prior generations.

In the past 60 years, fewer people have been getting married. The rate of marriages dropped 39 percent between 1950 and 2010, and the proportion of men between ages 25 and 34 who have never been married is more than six times higher than in 1970, according to this study.

However, correlation doesn’t always equal causation. Many factors could affect marriage rates — including porn — but finding a link between porn and marriage doesn’t necessarily mean one had a direct effect on the other.

This study was published by the Institute for the Study of Labor in November. The institute is associated with the University of Bonn and is supported by the Deutsche Post Foundation.