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Summary: Teens Desire for Sex Driven by Expectation of Intimacy

Many teenagers think that sex will satisfy their goals of intimacy, sexual pleasure, and social status. Programs to prevent teen pregnancy and STDs may be more successful if they acknowledge the relationship goals of adolescents and address other ways to express sexuality and attain relationship goals.
  • According to an article written in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, perceived risks tell us what motivates adolescents to be abstinent or practice safer sex, but they do not tell us what draws adolescents to have sex in the first place. The researchers of this study wanted to look past the risks of sexual behavior and deeper into what draws teenagers to have sex.  For this study, a sample of 637 ninth graders were asked about their relationship goals, and the degree to which they felt that sex might satisfy those goals. The results of the study showed that the female adolescents valued intimacy the most, followed by social status, and sexual pleasure last. Compared with males, females considered intimacy notably more important as a relationship goal and considered pleasure notably less important. The males in this study more often held the expectation that sex would result in pleasure and social status than did the females. In addition to noting differences in expectations between the sexes, the researchers discovered differences between sexually experienced individuals and individuals without prior sexual experience. Sexually experienced females valued the goal of social status less than those without sexual experience, and males with no sexual experience reported a higher expectation of intimacy than females with no sexual experience. The researchers concluded that programs aimed at preventing teen pregnancy and STDs may be more successful if they acknowledge the relationship goals of adolescents and address other ways to express sexuality and attain relationship goals.1

1Greater Expectations: Adolescentsí Positive Motivations for Sex, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, June 2006, Vol. 38, No. 2, pp. 84-89.

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