Age at Which Teens Have Sex May Affect Future Relationships

Having sex later in the developmental years may help provide a clearer path to rewarding adult relationships later, says a recent study. Research led by Dr. Paige Harden, psychological scientist, looked at whether or not having sex at an earlier age, in the middle of the teen years, or later in the teen/young adult years could impact relationship choices or levels of positive perspectives in later relationships. By following nearly 1,700 sets of siblings, same-gender pairs, through the years of age 16 through 29, researchers concluded some interesting findings in a Psych Central article: Individuals who waited to have sex further into their teen or young adult years showed a higher likelihood of completing educational levels and making more money as adults. Those who waited for sex had a likelihood for a lower number of relationship partners as they grew into adulthood. Satisfaction in their romantic relationships was higher for individuals who began having sex later on and were also in either a marriage or long-term relationship. Researchers speculated that the difference in relationship stability for those who postponed sexual activity, and those who engaged sooner, may be related to individuals being able to make more discerning relationship choices later in life. Those who waited may hold more positive general views toward relationships, having not experienced a negative one involving sex in younger years. Additional research related to teens and sexual activity shows that teens who send or receive sexted messages are also significantly more likely to be engaging in real-world sex, even in younger years. Parents are encouraged to talk to teens about the risks associated with sexting and sexual behaviors early, and to continue having the conversation repeatedly.

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