Kissing is good: A developmental investigation of sexuality in adolescent romantic couples

Abstract

This study investigated sexuality as a predictor of the quality of adolescent romantic relationships. Individuals’ sexual feelings (desire for partner) and couples’ sexual behaviors were examined as components of sexuality, with gender and age as potential moderators. Participants included 211 male-female couples aged 14–21 that had been dating a minimum of 4 weeks. Findings revealed important connections between sexuality and relationship quality. Specifically, kissing and desiring a romantic partner correlated positively to relationship satisfaction and commitment. The link between sexual intercourse and relationship qualities, however, varied according to age. In younger adolescents, the frequency of intercourse was negatively correlated with relationship quality, while in older adolescents, the frequency of intercourse correlated positively with relationship commitment and had no connection with relationship satisfaction. Gender did not moderate the link between sexual behavior and relationship quality. Findings are discussed from a normative framework and implications for social policy are explored.

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Correspondence to Deborah P. Welsh.

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Welsh, D.P., Haugen, P.T., Widman, L. et al. Kissing is good: A developmental investigation of sexuality in adolescent romantic couples. Sex Res Soc Policy 2, 32–41 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1525/srsp.2005.2.4.32

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Key words

  • normative sexuality
  • sexual behaviors
  • desire
  • romantic relationships
  • commitment
  • relationship satisfaction
  • gender