Adolescents’ sexual and romantic relationship experiences are multidimensional but often studied as single constructs. Thus, it is not clear how different patterns of sexual and relationship experience may interact to differentially predict later outcomes. In this study we used latent class analysis to model patterns (latent classes) of adolescent sexual and romantic experiences, and then examined how these classes were associated with young adult sexual health and relationship outcomes in data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). We identified six adolescent relationship classes: No Relationship (33%), Waiting (22%), Intimate (38%), Private (3%), Low Involvement (3%), and Physical (2%). Adolescents in the Waiting and Intimate classes were more likely to have married by young adulthood than those in other classes, and those in the Physical class had a greater number of sexual partners and higher rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Some gender differences were found; for example, women in the Low-Involvement and Physical classes in adolescence had average or high odds of marriage, whereas men in these classes had relatively low odds of marriage. Our findings identify more and less normative patterns of romantic and sexual experiences in late adolescence and elucidate associations between adolescent experiences and adult outcomes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Gender Studies
- Sociology and Political Science
- History and Philosophy of Science