Our analysis of longitudinal data from the Toledo Adolescent Relationships Study showed that the of adolescent dating and sexual partners does not uniformly influence indicators of young adult well-being, which is at odds with a risk framework. Relationship churning and sexual nonexclusivity during adolescence were associated with lower relationship quality during young adulthood. Sexual nonexclusivity during adolescence influenced self-reports of depressive symptoms and lower self-esteem among young adults.
Future research should develop more nuanced conceptualizations of adolescent dating and sexual relationships allen e meier together dating integrate adolescent dating and sexual experiences into research on early adult well-being. As such, researchers coming from different scholarly traditions tend to focus on either adolescent dating or involvement in sexual activity, but often do not consider the convergence, or lack thereof, in these concepts.
Building on prior research, we move allen e meier together dating these dichotomies by empirically exploring those dating and sexual relationships that overlap and those that do not. Despite the prevalence of a risk perspective in research on dating and sexual relationships, our criticism of this approach is twofold. First, simple allen e meier together dating e. We present new findings based on data from the Toledo Adolescent Relationships Study TARSwhich is a five-wave study focusing on the influence of intimate partners on the transition from adolescence to young adulthood.
Because the data are longitudinal, we consider how earlier experiences may affect indicators of well-being among young adults. Thus, it is unclear whether there is a true decrease in the of teens who have ever dated, or if the term dating itself no longer resonates with young people. Nevertheless, a conservative estimate based on these national surveys is that the majority of Americans have been involved in a romantic or dating relationship by the end of their teens.
Researchers also grapple with estimating how many dating partners most teens have, and how long relationships last. Moreover, relationships appear to be relatively short, lasting on average about 12 months Carver et al. Relationship churning refers to partnerships in which individuals break up and get back together, sometimes dating or having sexual relationships with other partners between the breakups. Adolescents have not only dating relationships but also sexual relationships. These estimates, however, do not indicate whether the sexual activity occurs within a dating or a casual sexual relationship, or both, and whether relationships are sexually exclusive.
Measures of these experiences in the literature focus on first sex with a casual partner, as well as ever having a causal sexual experience. Thus, a sizeable minority of teens experienced first sexual intercourse outside a dating relationship.
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Instead, many of these sexual experiences are with someone the teenager dated in the past or considered a friend. The assessment of casual sex becomes more complicated when there is overlap across dating and sexualfor example, adolescents may be involved with casual sexual partners in tandem with dating partners. In summary, the allen e meier together dating adolescent life course often involves sexual activity outside of the traditional dating context, though not necessarily with a stranger or hookup.
The fluidity of adolescent relationships, however, challenges traditional perspectives on the meaning and measurement of dating and sexual relationships. Relationship churning and sex outside the confines of dating relationships, two indicators typically not examined in the literatures on dating relationships or sexual activity, may affect how adolescents subsequently manage their intimate relationships and may influence well-being. Dating may increase antisocial outcomes including juvenile delinquency, substance use, truancy Cui et al.
Much of the literature on teen sexual activity also focuses on problematic outcomes.
Similar to studies on dating, research demonstrates that teen sexual activity is often associated with depressive symptoms e. Limited studies focus specifically on the well-being implications of casual sex partnerships or sex that occurs outside the scope of a dating relationship. From a risk perspective, a pattern of sexual activity outside of dating relationships may reflect a dyadic attachment style that lacks intimacy and commitment. of studies examining the association between of casual sex partners and psychological well-being, however, are mixed.
Lyons and colleagues find that a ificant share of men and women liked and enjoyed their casual sex relationships. These findings counter the literature emphasizing the risky consequences of casual sex.
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 s of dating partners, sexual partners dating and casualcasual sexual partners, as well as relationship churning, and sexual nonexclusivity among 18—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 allen e meier together dating 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 12—13 to late adolescence ages 18— The well-being indicators are from the fifth interviewwhen respondents were ages 22— We allen e meier together dating six indicators of dating and sexual experiences during adolescence.
of dating partners refers to the total 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. 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. 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 of dating partners is about 4 with a range of 0—9 partners.
The average of sex partners is slightly more than 3 with a range from 0— Among sexually active 18—year-olds, the mean of partners is nearly 5. Thus, we confirm that dating among American teens is nearly ubiquitous, but teens differ in their s of dating partners. The majority of 18—year-olds have some sexual experience, but there is a vast range in s of sexual partners.
Dating and sexual activity, however, frequently co-occur. Yet the of sexual partners that individuals were dating dating sexual partners is nearly two, indicating that sex activity does not occur in every dating relationship.
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 of casual sex partners is 1. In the subset reporting casual sexual activity, the average of casual sex partners is 3. Table 4. Unless noted in the text the ificant bivariate associations persist with the inclusion of sociodemographic characteristics and outcome variables assessed at the first interview. Late adolescent experience with sexual nonexclusivity, however, is associated ificantly with higher levels of depressive symptoms and lower self-esteem in early adulthood.
Relationship predictors are from Wave 4 ages 18—19 and outcomes are from Wave 5 ages 22— Further investigation with multivariate logistic regression models, including sociodemographic characteristics and grade point average, finds that the of dating and sexual partners during adolescence is not ificantly associated with gainful activity at ages 22—23 not shown.
Nearly one quarter of the sample reports experiences with intimate partner violence with their current or recent partner at ages 22— At the bivariate level, s 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 of dating partners, and the of sexual dating allen e meier together dating remain ificant predictors of higher odds of young adult intimate partner violence not shown.
These 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 ificantly associated with intimate partner violence. Finally, the of sexual partners, specifically dating sexual partners, relationship allen e meier together dating, 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 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.
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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 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 of dating partners and of sexual partners were not ificantly associated with depressive symptoms or self-esteem, which is allen e meier together dating odds with a risk framework. Yet the 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. 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.