Teenage Romance and Sex: The Relationship Context of Sexual Activity

Wendy D. Manning, Bowling Green State University
Peggy C. Giordano, Bowling Green State University
Monica A. Longmore, Bowling Green State University

The majority of teenagers report having sex during their high school years and the literature in demography and other social sciences emphasizes the timing of first sexual experience and contraceptive use. Remarkably little attention has been paid to the relationship context of sexual activity. We initially investigate the norms surrounding dating and sexual activity and determine how these norms influence adolescent sexual behaviors. We then examine relationship features of both romantic and nonromantic sexual relationships, and identify similarities and differences in these types of relationships. We draw on data derived from the Toledo Adolescent Relationships Study (TARS). These data are unique and include both survey data from 1316 7th, 9th, and 11th graders and in-depth interviews from 100 survey respondents. This paper builds on prior work by using multi-method approach to examine the nature of adolescent sexual relationships.

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Presented in Session 4: Adolescent Sexual Behavior