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We concur with Fortenberry who argues that researchers tend to problematize all adolescent sexual activity. Perhaps some kinds of relationships are riskier for well-being, so it may be useful to consider a broader range of intimate relationships rather than focusing solely on dating or sexual activity. Moreover, unlike many other adolescent risk behaviors e. Thus, we argue that research should be more specific about the types of dating and sexual relationships that may influence well-being.
We investigate whether a range of dating and sexual experiences during adolescence influence young adult outcomes. We assess whether the numbers of dating partners, sexual partners dating and casualcasual sexual partners, as well as relationship churning, and sexual nonexclusivity among year-olds in influence five indicators of well-being measured five years later in The TARS provides a unique perspective by focusing on dating and sexual relationships during the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
The respondents did not need to attend classes to be in the original study and were interviewed outside of the school setting. The advantage of this approach is that it provides a more representative sample of adolescents, not just those who regularly attended school. We followed the initial set of respondents over the course of five interviews for the next 10 years.
This allows us to access a full cumulative set of adolescent sexual and relational experiences from early adolescence ages to late adolescence ages The well-being indicators are from the fifth interviewwhen respondents were ages We include six indicators of dating and sexual experiences during adolescence. Number of dating partners refers to the total number of relationships, adjusting for relationships that lasted across multiple interviews.
In your lifetime, how many sex partners have you had? For our analyses assessing the impact of relationship churningwe classified individuals in four different categories. We code respondents into the first category, Churning, if they broke up and got back together with their current or most recent partner or have had sex with their ex-dating partner.
The second category, Stably together, includes respondents in a current relationship and who never broke up with this partner. The third category, Stably apart, includes respondents who report on a prior relationship in which they only broke up once and did not get back together.
The fourth category, Nondaters, references respondents who did not have a recent or current dating partner. Analyses included three dummy coded variables Churning, Stably apart, and Nondaterswith Stably together as the reference group. Sexual nonexclusivity includes three categories. The second category, Sexual exclusive, indicates being in a sexually exclusive relationships and neither partner had sex with someone else during the relationship.
Dummy codes for Sexually nonexclusive and Nondaters were entered in analyses, with Sexually exclusive as the reference group. We present a series of bivariate models demonstrating the association between the well-being indicators and each dating and sexual activity measure separately. We estimate ordinary least squares regression models for continuous indicators of well-being depressive symptoms, self-esteem, and relationship satisfaction and logistic regression models for dichotomous well-being indicators intimate partner violence.
The average number of dating partners is about 4 with a range of partners. The average number of sex partners is slightly more than 3 with a range from 0- Among sexually active year-olds, the mean number of partners is nearly 5.
Thus, we confirm that dating among American teens is nearly ubiquitous, but teens differ in their numbers of dating partners. The majority of year-olds have some sexual experience, but there is a vast range in numbers of sexual partners. Dating and sexual activity, however, frequently co-occur.
Yet the number of sexual partners that individuals were dating dating sexual partners is nearly two, indicating that sex activity does not occur in every dating relationship.
Adolescent dating has a lot to teach about what treatment it takes to and allow behavior that they would not if they were substance-free. Adolescent dating violence (ADV) is a significant public health issue. Nearly 9% . This conceptualization entails non-threatening behavior such as creating an. Pre-teen dating, especially for girls and especially when sex is involved, . Future directions in research on sexual minority adolescent mental, behavioral, and.
Casual sex is also common. About half of sexually active teens report having had sex with individuals with whom they were not dating.
The mean number of casual sex partners is 1. In the subset reporting casual sexual activity, the average number of casual sex partners is 3. Table 4. Unless noted in the text the significant bivariate associations persist with the inclusion of sociodemographic characteristics and outcome variables assessed at the first interview.
Adolescence and dating behavior
Late adolescent experience with sexual nonexclusivity, however, is associated significantly with higher levels of depressive symptoms and lower self-esteem in early adulthood. Relationship predictors are from Wave 4 ages and outcomes are from Wave 5 ages Further investigation with multivariate logistic regression models, including sociodemographic characteristics and grade point average, finds that the number of dating and sexual partners during adolescence is not significantly associated with gainful activity at ages results not shown.
Nearly one quarter of the sample reports experiences with intimate partner violence with their current or recent partner at ages At the bivariate level, numbers of dating and sexual partners casual and dating during adolescence are positively associated with the odds of early adult intimate partner violence.
In multiple regression models, controlling for sociodemographic characteristics and teen dating violence, the number of dating partners, and the number of sexual dating partners remain significant predictors of higher odds of young adult intimate partner violence results not shown. These results suggest that greater dating experience is a risk factor for intimate partner violence, but involvement in casual sexual relationships is not a risk factor.
Additionally, at the bivariate level, relationship churning and sexual nonexclusivity are not significantly associated with intimate partner violence. Finally, the number of sexual partners, specifically dating sexual partners, relationship churning, and sexual nonexclusivity are negatively associated with relationship satisfaction in early adulthood. Multivariate models not shown indicate that these associations persist even after the inclusion of demographic control variables.
Consistent with prior research, we found that the majority of adolescents report dating and sexual experience at some point during adolescence. The wide variation in the number of partners indicates a range of dating and sexual experiences. We also demonstrate that adolescent dating and sexual relationships are fluid. Common experiences during adolescence, for example, include having several dating sexual partners, having casual sex, experiencing relationship churning, and having a dating relationship that is not sexually exclusive.
Our work does not provide a comprehensive assessment of the full range of adolescent dating and sexual experiences, but does introduce several ways of reconceptualizing adolescent dating and sexual relationships.
Thus, these patterns of dating and sexual experiences suggest that high levels of instability and variation in types of relationships should be acknowledged and further integrated in future studies of the implications of dating and sexual experiences for adolescents as well as later in the life course.
We build on prior work that uses a risk framework by examining the number of dating and sexual partners as risks for poorer well-being among young adults. The longitudinal framework of the current study enabled us to examine specific consequences of variations in the nature of adolescent dating and sexual experiences for young adult well-being. The traditional indicators of number of dating partners and number of sexual partners were not significantly associated with depressive symptoms or self-esteem, which is at odds with a risk framework.
Yet the number of sexual partners is associated with lower levels of relationship satisfaction as well as higher odds of intimate partner violence among young adults. The more nuanced indicators show that associations between sexual partnerships and well-being are not limited only to casual sexual partners but also relate to dating sexual partners.
Commitment and Sexual Behaviors in Adolescent Dating Relationships
Notably, relationship churning and sexual nonexclusivity resulted in lower levels of young adult relationship satisfaction. It is possible that certain individuals are prone to relationship strain, indicated here by churning and nonexclusivity in adolescence, and lower relationship satisfaction in early adulthood.
It is also possible that experiencing relationship strain during adolescence carries over into adult dating relationships. Finally, although the number of sexual partners is not associated significantly with psychological well-being, sexual nonexclusivity is associated with greater depressive symptoms and lower self-esteem in adulthood.
It appears that the type rather than the number of dating or sexual relationships has a lasting influence on psychological well-being. These findings suggest that there is a need for a risk framework that accounts for the nature as well as the number of dating and sexual relationship experiences. In our analyses, informed by a risk framework, we focus on the negative processes tied to young adult relationships.
However, a distinct framework requiring different indicators is that youthful dating and sexual experiences may be positive, or at minimum, normative steps in the developmental process. Adolescent dating relationships thus may provide numerous opportunities to learn about positive relationship dynamics as well as challenges in sustaining relationships such as negotiating roles, disagreements, breakups, conflict, and jealousy.
Our work cannot empirically evaluate this notion of skill-building, but leads us to speculate about the potential resilience provided by prior relationship experiences. Perhaps longitudinal data that include indicators of relationship competence or direct questions about lessons learned from earlier dating experiences might be fruitful.
Most likely countervailing forces are operating where prior relationships may present some risk for healthy adult relationships and at the same time may offer valuable lessons carried forward into adulthood. Much prior research imposes an adulthood lens regarding relationships that focuses on duration and stability. Our findings showcase that this frame cannot be simply supplanted onto adolescents. We find that the fluidity of adolescent relationships is not well captured by the high number of dating or sexual partners because of the frequency of relationship churning.
Consistent with the notion that adolescence is a period of exploration, we also find that it is common to break up and get back together. Thus, the concept of relationship duration-relying on a conceptualization of relationships as clearly dichotomized: together or broken up-may be problematic. Yet to assume that relationship churning occurs only in adolescence would be shortsighted.
A challenge remains to assess the meaning of relationship churning to adolescents. A risk framework would suggest that relationship churning has a negative influence on subsequent well-being as it may lend itself to high levels of conflict Halpern-Meekin et al.
At the same time, relationship churning could demonstrate successful negotiation of relationship strains and indicate a renewed commitment. Relationship churning may be developmentally appropriate during adolescence as youths learn how to navigate the start and endings of relationships. Our results show that adolescents may go through periods where it is difficult to define their relationships and our theories as well as measurement may not capture the reality of their experiences. Our work demonstrates that experiences in adolescent dating and sexual activity carry over into adult relationships.
Prior studies of young adults emphasize that each phase of the life course represents a new set of relationship challenges. Although this depiction may be accurate, this perspective implies that relationships in each stage of the life course are unaffected by previous relationship experiences. Most studies of adolescent development consider adolescent relationships as an endpoint of research, rather than constituting a set of experiences that uniquely influence and structure subsequent life course trajectories.
Data collections that span adolescence and young adulthood provide unique opportunities to assess the long-term implications of adolescent dating and sexual relationships. We control for several of these factors in the multivariate models, but this approach does not acknowledge that the patterning and meaning of adolescent dating and sexual relationships may differ for different populations of adolescents. An important next step is to directly assess the distinctions in the consequences of varying adolescent dating and sexual activity across a broad spectrum of adolescents.
Thus, our work calls for new conceptualizations of adolescent relationships. It is important to move beyond basic indicators of number of partners as indicators of relationship instability and consider relationship churning. We argue for new measurement of adolescent relationships that captures complexity and fluidity.
Couples going through periods of disruption may continue to have sex, which represents an untapped area for research on sexual risk taking. Moreover, programs directed at safe sex practices and teenage pregnancy prevention may need to focus on the importance of contraceptive use during potentially emotionally turbulent periods, such as during breakup periods with ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends.
New directions for research on adolescence require theoretical and empirical work that directly confronts the meaning of flux in adolescent relationships. Wendy D. Monica A.
the stage for their adult relationships Dating during adolescence is discusses dating and sexual behaviors that may put adolescents at. While dating can be a way for youth to learn positive relationship skills like role in influencing adolescent decisions about risky behaviors like having sex. understanding of the developmental significance of adolescent dating, thereby potentially leading be vulnerable to unhealthy behavior in dating relationships??
Peggy C. National Center for Biotechnology InformationU. New Dir Child Adolesc Dev. Author manuscript; available in PMC Feb 9. ManningMonica A.
LongmoreJennifer Coppand Peggy C. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Copyright notice. See other articles in PMC that cite the published article.
Current Investigation We investigate whether a range of dating and sexual experiences during adolescence influence young adult outcomes. Data The TARS provides a unique perspective by focusing on dating and sexual relationships during the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Open in a separate window. Conclusion Consistent with prior research, we found that the majority of adolescents report dating and sexual experience at some point during adolescence.
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