, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 211-222

Adolescent Relationships and Condom Use: Trust, Love and Commitment

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Abstract

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.