Contemporary Family Therapy

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 173–191 | Cite as

Dating is Hard Work: A Narrative Approach to Understanding Sexual and Romantic Relationships in Young Adulthood

  • Jamie E. BankerEmail author
  • Christine E. Kaestle
  • Katherine R. Allen
Original Paper


This study utilized a qualitative approach informed by a narrative perspective to examine 57 young adults’ stories about sexual and romantic relationships. Participants (25 men and 32 women) were asked to define relationships in terms of how they know they are in a romantic or a sexual partnership. Young adults identified the language they use for different types of relationships, their perceptions of the hierarchy of romantic and sexual relationships, and their confusion or uncertainty about their relationship experiences. We discuss implications for clinicians working with young adults and provide suggestions for re-storying the confusing territory of intimate (and sometimes impersonal) interaction.


Narrative therapy Sexual relationships Romantic relationships Young adults 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jamie E. Banker
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christine E. Kaestle
    • 2
  • Katherine R. Allen
    • 3
  1. 1.Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA
  2. 2.Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA
  3. 3.Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA

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