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Characteristics of Young Adult Sexual Relationships: Diverse, Sometimes Violent, Often Loving

Scott, M. E.,
Steward-Streg, N. R.,
Manlove, J.,
Schelar, E.,
Cui, C.
Research Brief
Year Published: 2011
Child Trends
Grant No. 1 FPRPA006015-01-00 and Grant No. 1 FPRPA006049-01-00, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Population Affairs (OPA)

Young adulthood has become an increasingly distinct and extended stage of development, say these authors, a period of transition between adolescence and adulthood when people explore many potential life directions. The types of sexual relationships that young adults form and the choices that they make within these relationships can have a long-lasting impact on their lives. In recent years, these relationships have become increasingly diverse in terms of the types of unions formed, partner age and racial/ethnic differences, and levels of love and commitment. Yet limited information exists on the characteristics of young adult relationships and partners. In this Research Brief, the authors present information on these characteristics, based on data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). Their results indicate that young adult relationships are fairly diverse; that these relationships have both positive and negative dimensions; and that partner and relationship characteristics and patterns of contraceptive use vary considerably by relationship type, gender, and race/ethnicity.

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