AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 211-222

First online:

Adolescent Relationships and Condom Use: Trust, Love and Commitment

  • Laurie J. BaumanAffiliated withAlbert Einstein College of MedicinePreventive Intervention Research Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine Email author 
  • , Rebecca BermanAffiliated withPreventive Intervention Research Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

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Research indicates that people use condoms less often with a regular sexual partner than with a casual partner because they believe condoms are not needed. This article reports qualitative findings from four group meetings and 11 in-depth interviews in which sexually experienced inner-city adolescents aged 14–17 talked about their sexual relationships. Three types of relationships were described: messing, for sex only; boy-girlfriend, a more intense relationship, and “hubby–wifey,” which mimics marriage. The four types of relationships differ along four analytic dimensions, which give them meaning: future commitment; public vs. secret; expectation of monogamy; and degree of affection and love. Decisions about condom use are influenced by these dimensions which may be underestimated in theoretical models that focus on individuals, not couples.

Key words

adolescents HIV/AIDS sexual behavior sexual relationships condoms