Adolescent Dating Relationships and the Management of Sexual Risk

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

Adolescent sexual behavior typically occurs within a relationship context, but we know more about parent and peer effects than about how specific features of romantic relationships influence sexual decision-making. A basic premise of this research is that decisions about sexual risk-taking are relational as well as “health” decisions. We draw on data from the Toledo Adolescent Relationships Study to explore the role of communication and emotional processes, asymmetries and levels of commitment that characterize adolescent romantic relationships. We evaluate how these relationship qualities influence the management of risk within the relationship, defined as communication about partner’s past risk behavior, condom use and sexual exclusivity. Results provide support for a relationship focus--scales measuring communication awkwardness and intimate self-disclosure are significantly related to the likelihood of relationship non-exclusivity. In addition, relationship asymmetries were linked to a decreased likelihood of condom use.

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Presented in Session 72: Relationships & Sexual Behavior in Youth