Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 39, Issue 10, pp 1148–1163 | Cite as

Relationship Trajectories and Psychological Well-Being Among Sexual Minority Youth

  • José A. Bauermeister
  • Michelle Marie Johns
  • Theo G. M. Sandfort
  • Anna Eisenberg
  • Arnold H. Grossman
  • Anthony R. D’Augelli
Empirical Research

Abstract

Dating in adolescence plays an integral part in the development of sexual and social identities. This process is particularly salient for sexual minority youth who face additional obstacles to their identity formation due to their marginalized status. We investigated the influence of participating in a same-sex relationship (SSR) or an opposite-sex relationship (OSR) on sexual minority youths’ psychological well-being (i.e., symptoms of depression, anxiety and internalized homophobia, and self-esteem) in an ethnically-diverse sample of 350 youth (55% male) between the ages of 15–19 years, recruited from three GLBT drop-in centers in the New York City area. Using longitudinal data, we examined youths’ SSR and OSR over time. Multivariate regression analyses suggest that involvement in a SSR was positively associated with changes in self-esteem in males, and negatively correlated with changes in internalized homophobia in females. We discuss the implications for positive development in sexual minority adolescent populations.

Keywords

Dating Sexual minority Gay, lesbian and bisexual Mental health Adolescence Sexuality 

References

  1. Bauermeister, J. A., Morales, M., Seda, G., & González-Rivera, M. (2008). Sexual prejudice among puerto rican young adults. Journal of Homosexuality, 53(4), 135–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bauermeister, J. A., Zimmerman, M. A., Caldwell, C. H., Xue, Y., & Gee, G. C. (2009). What predicts sex partners’ age differences among african american youth? A longitudinal study from adolescence to young adulthood. Journal of Sex Research, 46, 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beck, A. T. (1996). Beck depression inventory II. San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar
  4. Binson, D., Blair, J., Huebner, D. M., & Woods, W. J. (2007). Sampling in surveys of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. In I. H. Meyer & M. E. Northridge (Eds.), The health of sexual minorities: Public health perspectives on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations (pp. 375–418). New York, NY: Springer.Google Scholar
  5. Bos, H. M. W., Sandfort, T. G. M., Bruyn, E. H., & Hakvoort, E. M. (2008). Same-Sex attraction, social relationships, psychosocial functioning, and school performance in early adolescence. Developmental Psychology, 44(1), 59–68.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Bouchey, H. A., & Furman, W. (2003). Dating and romantic experiences in adolescence. In G. R. Adams & M. Berzonsky (Eds.), The blackwell handbook of adolescence (pp. 239–313). Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar
  7. Coleman, E. (1987). Assessment of sexual orientation. Journal of Homosexuality, 14(1), 9–24.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Connolly, J., Furman, W., & Konarski, R. (2000). The role of peers in the emergence of heterosexual romantic relationships in adolescence. Child Development, 71(5), 1395–1408.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. D’Augelli, A. R. (2002). Mental health problems among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths ages 14–21. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 7(3), 439–462.Google Scholar
  10. D’Augelli, A. R., & Grossman, A. H. (2006). Researching lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth: Conceptual, practical, and ethical considerations. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Issues In Education, 3(2/3), 35–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Davila, J., Steinberg, S. J., Kachadourian, L., Cobb, R., & Fincham, F. (2004). Romantic involvement and depressive symptoms in early and late adolescence: The role of preoccupied relational style. Personal Relationships, 11, 161–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Derogatis, L. R. (1993). The brief symptom inventory: Administration, scoring, and procedures manual. Minneapolis, MN: National Computer Systems.Google Scholar
  13. Detrie, P. M., & Lease, S. H. (2007). The relation of social support, connectedness, and collective self-esteem to the psychological well-being of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth. Journal of Homosexuality, 53(4), 173–199.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Diamond, L. M., & Savin-Williams, R. C. (2003). Explaining diversity in the development of same-sex sexuality among young women. In L. D. Garnets & D. C. Kimmel (Eds.), Psychological perspectives on lesbian, gay, and bisexual experiences (pp. 130–148). NY: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Diamond, L. M. & Savin-Williams, R. C. (in press). Same-sex activity in adolescence: Multiple meanings and implications. In S. Morrow & R. Fassinger (Eds.) Sex in the margins: Erotic lives of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  16. Diamond, L. M., Savin-Williams, R. C., & Dubé, E. M. (1999). Sex, dating, passionate friendships, and romance: Intimate peer relations among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adolescents. In W. Furman, B. B. Brown, & C. Feiring (Eds.), The development of romantic relationships in adolescence (pp. 175–210). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Ford, K., & Lepkowski, J. M. (2004). Characteristics of sexual partners and STD infection among American adolescents. International Journal of STD and AIDS, 15, 260–265.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Furman, W., & Shaffer, L. (2003). The role of romantic relationships in adolescent development. In P. Florsheim (Ed.), Adolescent romantic relations and sexual behavior: Theory, research, and practical implications (pp. 3–22). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  19. Galambos, N. L., Almeida, D. M., & Petersen, A. C. (1990). Masculinity, femininity, and sex role attitudes in early adolescence: Exploring gender intensification. Child Development, 61(6), 1905–1914.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Galambos, N. L., Barker, E. T., & Krahn, H. J. (2006). Depression, self-esteem, and anger in emerging adulthood: Seven-year trajectories. Developmental Psychology, 42(2), 350–365.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Garofalo, R., Wolf, R. C., Kessel, S., Palfrey, J., & DuRant, R. H. (1998). The association between health risk behaviors and sexual orientation among a school-based sample of adolescents. Pediatrics, 101, 895–902.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Glover, J. A., Galliher, R. V., & Lamere, T. G. (2009). Identity development and exploration among sexual minority adolescents: Examination of a multidimensional model. Journal of Homosexuality, 56, 77–101.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Goodenow, C., Szalacha, L., & Westheimer, K. (2006). School support groups, other school factors, and the safety of sexual minority adolescents. Psychology in the Schools, 43(5), 573–589.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Graber, J. A., & Archibald, A. B. (2001). Psychosocial change at puberty and beyond: Understanding adolescent sexuality and sexual orientation. In A. R. D’Augelli & C. J. Patterson (Eds.), Lesbian, gay, and bisexual identities and youth: Psychological perspectives (pp. 3–26). New York, NY: Oxford University.Google Scholar
  25. Herek, G., & Capitano, J. P. (1999). AIDS stigma and sexual prejudice. The American Behavioral Scientist, 42, 1130–1147.Google Scholar
  26. Igartua, K. J., Gill, K., & Montoroyr, R. (2003). Internalized homophobia: A factor in depression, anxiety, and suicide in the gay and lesbian population. Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health, 22(2), 15–30.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Isay, I. (2009). Becoming gay: The journey to self-acceptance. New York, NY: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  28. Kinsey, A. C., Pomeroy, W. B., & Martin, C. E. (1948). Sexual behavior in the human male. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders.Google Scholar
  29. La Greca, A. M., & Harrison, H. M. (2005). Adolescent peer relations, friendships, and romantic relationships: Do they predict social anxiety and depression? Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 34(1), 49–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mays, V. M., & Cochran, S. D. (2001). Mental health correlates of perceived discrimination among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults in the united states. American Journal of Public Health, 91(11), 1869–1876.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Meyer, I. H. (2003). Prejudice, social stress, and mental health in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: Conceptual issues and research evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 129(5), 674–697.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Meyer, I. H., Dietrich, J., & Schwartz, S. (2007). Lifetime prevalence of mental disorders and suicide attempts in diverse lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations. American Journal of Public Health, 97(11), 8–11.Google Scholar
  33. Peplau, A. L., & Fingerhut, A. W. (2007). The close relationships of lesbians and gay men. Annual Review of Psychology, 58, 405–424.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Rivers, I., & D’Augelli, A. R. (2001). The victimization of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths. In A. R. D’Augelli & C. J. Patterson (Eds.), Lesbian, gay, and bisexual identities and youth: Psychological perspectives (pp. 199–223). New York, NY: Oxford University.Google Scholar
  35. Rosenberg, M. (1979). Conceiving the self. NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  36. Russell, S. T., & Consolacion, T. B. (2003). Adolescent romance and emotional health in the united states: Beyond binaries. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 32(4), 499–508.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Schneider, M. S. (2001). Toward a reconceptualization of the coming-out process for adolescent females. In A. R. D’Augelli & C. J. Patterson (Eds.), Lesbian, gay, and bisexual identities and youth: Psychological perspectives (pp. 71–96). NY: Oxford University.Google Scholar
  38. Shidlo, A. (1994). Internalized homophobia: Conceptual and empirical issues in measurement. In B. F. Greene & G. Herek (Eds.), Lesbian and gay psychology: Theory, research and clinical applications (pp. 176–205). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  39. Szymanski, D. M., Chung, Y. B., & Balsam, K. F. (2001). Psychosocial correlates of internalized homophobia in lesbians. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, 34(1), 27–38.Google Scholar
  40. Tolman, D. L. (2006). In a different position: Conceptualizing female adolescent sexuality development within compulsory heterosexuality. New Directions in Child and Adolescent Development, Summer(112), 71–89.Google Scholar
  41. Tolman, D. L., Striepe, M. I., & Harmon, T. (2003). Gender matters: Constructing a model of adolescent sexual health. The Journal of Sex Research, 40(1), 4–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wingood, G. M., & DiClemente, R. J. (2002). The theory of gender and power: A social structural theory for guiding public health interventions. In R. J. DiClemente, R. A. Crosby, & M. C. Kegler (Eds.), Emerging theories in health promotion practice and research (pp. 313–346). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  43. Zimet, G. D., Dahlem, N. W., Zimet, S. G., & Farley, G. K. (1988). The multidimensional scale of perceived social support. Journal of Personality Assessment, 52, 30–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • José A. Bauermeister
    • 1
  • Michelle Marie Johns
    • 1
  • Theo G. M. Sandfort
    • 2
  • Anna Eisenberg
    • 1
  • Arnold H. Grossman
    • 3
  • Anthony R. D’Augelli
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public HealthUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral StudiesNew York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Applied PsychologyNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Department of Human Development and Family StudiesPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

Personalised recommendations