A Characterization of Young Adults’ Nonmarital Sexual Relationships: Findings from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health

Yasamin Kusunoki, University of California, Los Angeles
Dawn Upchurch, University of California, Los Angeles

Relational patterns and behaviors learned during adolescence and young adulthood are influential for reproductive health outcomes and set the stage for future family formation choices and behaviors. In order to better understand the extent to which the relational context influences behavior within relationships, it is imperative that researchers first delve into these relationships in a more descriptive manner than has been done in the past. Using the retrospective sexual relationship histories of young adults from the third wave of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, this paper provides a detailed description of young adults’ nonmarital sexual relationships and the cumulative patterns of their sexual relationship histories. Findings suggest that the sexual unions that are formed during this time period are diverse in terms of relationship commitment and couple homogamy. Results also indicate that the features of these relationships differ depending on the age, gender, and race/ethnicity of the individual.

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Presented in Session 72: Relationships & Sexual Behavior in Youth