Effects of Romantic & Sexual Involvement on Well Being during Emerging Adulthood

Kate Sullivan, University of Texas at Austin

This study uses the National Study of Adolescent Health to examine how romantic and sexual involvement during adolescence influences mental health and identity formation during young adulthood. We explore how both the intensity of the relationships and the age the individual initiates romantic and sexual involvement impact well being later in life. Individuals who report romantic and/or sexual involvement during adolescence also report better self image scores during young adulthood compared to individuals a history of no romantic or sexual involvement. However, this is only true for romantic relationships; individuals who reported nonromantic sexual relationships did not have better self image scores than those with no involvement. We also found no evidence of a link between depression in young adulthood and adolescent involvement or effects of gender or age. This research suggests that adolescent romantic and sexual involvement influences aspects of adulthood extending beyond the realm of romantic relationships.

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Presented in Poster Session 7