Sexuality Research and Social Policy

, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 41–55 | Cite as

Pleasure, empowerment, and love: Factors associated with a positive first coitus

  • Andrew P. SmilerEmail author
  • L. Monique WardEmail author
  • Allison CaruthersEmail author
  • Ann MerriwetherEmail author


Descriptions of adolescents’ first coital experiences have typically focused on the negative affect reported by women or on sex differences in levels of positive affect. Analyses of factors associated with a positive first coitus are rare. Accordingly, we examined correlates of a pleasurable first coital experience among 335 undergraduates. Analyses focused on three elements of a positive sexual experience—positive emotionality (e.g., happy), empowerment, and feelings of love—and on four groups of potential correlates: context of the first experience, parental socialization messages, gender attributes and beliefs, and body satisfaction. Each of these four domains emerged as significant correlates. Results suggested that a more intentional (vs. spontaneous) first experience, exposure to parental messages about sexual freedom, less adherence to “traditional” gender roles, and greater body satisfaction were related to a more positive first coital experience. These findings suggest that comprehensive sexual education programs would likely facilitate positive sexual development.

Key words

sexuality socialization body image gender 


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Copyright information

© Springer New York 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyState University of New York OswegoOswego
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn Arbor
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyReed CollegePortland
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyState University of New York-BinghamtonBinghamton

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