Female Friendship: Women Less Likely To Befriend Promiscuous Peers Regardless Of Their Own Sexual History, Study Finds

Are Your Friends Judging Your Sex Life?
two young women having lunch...
two young women having lunch...

In case you needed more proof that your sex life shouldn't be anyone else's business, a new study suggests that the number of people you've slept with can affect whether other women want to be friends with you.

New research out of Cornell University found that women judge their "promiscuous" peers harshly -- to the point where they don't want to be friends with them. The study was published this month in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

A research team led by Zhana Vrangalova, a graduate student in the field of human development in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell, surveyed 751 college students about their past sexual experiences and attitudes about sex and relationships. Participants then read a short story about a peer of their own gender, who had either had two or 20 sexual partners in his or her lifetime, and were asked to rate that peer on "friendship factors" including likeability, competence and morality.

Female participants ranked the woman with 20 sexual partners more negatively on nine of the ten friendship attributes, regardless of their own sexual history. This pattern was not seen in male participants.

"What surprised us in this study is how unaccepting promiscuous women were of other promiscuous women when it came to friendships –- these are the very people one would think they could turn to for support," Vrangalova said in a press release.

Anna Breslaw at Jezebel commented that the study makes a case for rethinking how we choose to make friends, given that women denied friendship on the basis of their sex lives can lead to isolation and poor psychological outcomes.

A 2005 study found that both women and men were judged for a high number of sexual partners, but other research has suggested that women are evaluated much more harshly than men. Research from 2009 found that this was especially true in teenagers.

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