Over the past 30 years, the views of Russians have changed a lot.
The All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM) published the data of the study “On Sex and Love 30 Years Later” or how Russians’ views on sexual relations outside of marriage have changed over three decades.
A previous survey on this topic (in 1992) showed that citizens find it difficult to answer the question of how they feel about sexual relations outside of marriage. Thus, the most popular answer (between 22 and 26 percent) was “hard to say”. In 2022, citizens were more likely to take a certain position: the number of “difficult to say” responses decreased by an average of four times to 5-8 percent.
As for sex before marriage, over the past three decades such relationships have become more of a norm in our society, and views on premarital sex among Russians have become liberated – 67 percent today consider them acceptable. In 1992, only 39 percent answered that this was the norm. The same number considered premarital sex unacceptable, but in 2022, this answer was given by 27 percent of respondents.
If the very fact of sex before marriage has become quite acceptable in 30 years, then sex without love is not. Although the share of those who consider physiological relationships without feelings is possible has increased (29 percent in 2022 against 16 percent in 1992). But still, in Russian society, the position of the inadmissibility of sex without love remains dominant (63 percent in 2022 against 57 percent in 1992).
Residents of the metropolitan regions have a different vision of the norm in this respect: in Moscow and St. Petersburg, opinions on the admissibility of sexual relations without feelings are divided almost equally (42 percent consider it acceptable, 46 percent – unacceptable).
Russians began to consider it unacceptable to have a lover or mistress other than a husband or wife
But the topic of betrayal in our society began to be treated more strictly for 30 years. Views on adultery have changed significantly compared to the early 1990s, and not in the direction of sexual permissiveness, but, on the contrary, in favor of traditional views on the family.
Russians were almost twice as likely to report that they find it unacceptable to have a lover/mistress other than a husband/wife—86 percent in 2022 versus 49 percent in 1992. Among young people aged 18-24, the absolute majority – 97 percent – think so. In the early 1990s, a quarter of citizens considered it normal to have a relationship with someone other than their spouse (25 percent), now only one in ten (9 percent) think so.
editor-translator of the Department of Publishing Programs of VTsIOM
“Looking at the greatly increased approval of premarital sex, the layman can start talking about a “decline in morals.” However, it would be hasty to do so. One of the control questions allows us to judge that the vast majority of our compatriots still consider sex without love unacceptable. It is impossible not to notice a sharp increase – almost two times! – the share of those who consider it abnormal to have a lover (mistress) in addition to a spouse (wife).
All this in an interesting way fits into the modern trend to postpone marriage, not to run “down the aisle” at the first opportunity, but to look at each other, try to live together, the expert continues.
“Thus, the choice of a partner is increasingly becoming consistent and conscious, the value of such relationships is higher, which means that burdening them with connections on the side is at least disadvantageous and destructive for both partners,” says Ilya Lomakin. “It is important to note that the highest intolerance to the presence of lovers is shown by the younger age cohorts (from 18 to 44 years old).”
The highest intolerance to the presence of lovers is shown by the younger age cohorts
It is also noteworthy that over the past 30 years, our compatriots have become more determined in matters of sexual morality: if in 1992 every fifth (and even every fourth) Russian could not relate himself to one of the proposed positions and found it difficult to answer, today such became many times less. In search of an answer to what is the reason for these changes, you can build a number of assumptions.
“I will note, at a minimum, the general expansion of the space for public statements and discussions on the topic of intimate relationships, the gradual development of a language for talking about“ this ”, as well as various kinds of work on mass sexual education,” the specialist adds.
In addition, the factor of open borders, opportunities for travel and acquaintance with other cultures seems to be important. You can also take into account the aspect of the general integration of Russians into the global discourse thanks to social networks and the Internet in general. Russian society does not exist in isolation, and, together with other countries, is moving towards openness when talking about the private sphere.