October 30, 2012
Take it slow, because true love waits.
But will this research reach those who need it most?
Postponing sexual activity is smart, especially for girls. Otherwise they’re at higher risk for genital infections, out-of-wedlock pregnancy and birth, abortion, maternal and child poverty, cervical cancer, and depression. That’s nothing new. What is new is that two large, peer-reviewed studies add another item to this long list of woes: dissatisfaction with romantic relationships in adulthood.
Researchers at the University of Texas asked: does timing of sexual debut predict satisfaction with romantic relationships in young adulthood? They classified timing as “early” (before age 15), “on-time” (age 15-19), or “late” (after age 19).
3,320 married or cohabiting people assessed their current relationship satisfaction across multiple dimensions, including levels of trust, emotional support, mutual enjoyment, sexual satisfaction, and resolution of conflict.
Results: “late” timing of first sex was associated with significantly higher levels of current relationship satisfaction.
The other study came out of Cornell University. It also looked at relationship satisfaction across multiple dimensions, but the focus was on when couples first became sexually active with one another: within the first month, during the second to sixth month, or after the sixth month.
Results: women who deferred sexual intimacy until after six months reported significantly higher relationship quality across all dimensions.
Together, these studies suggest that delaying sex until adulthood, and then taking it slow, increase the chance of achieving a highly satisfying relationship, especially for women.
That’s something young people should know, don’t you agree?
“Wait ‘til you’re older, then take it slow” – that’s what kids are being told, right?
Well, no. At least, not by sex ed giants like SIECUS, Planned Parenthood, and Advocates for Youth, who are at the helm of the industry in the US, and in some cases, internationally.
It’s hard to believe, but look for yourselves. Explore their sites, especially the areas meant for young people.
You’ll find that, regarding The Big Decision, these federally-funded organizations tell young people, “no one can tell you the right time. Only you can decide”.
This is an approach to sexual activity that’s based on freedom, not health or well-being. In 2012, it’s an approach that’s not only irresponsible, but perilous.
One last thing: while advising teens, “no one can tell you the right time to become sexually active”, these groups promote themselves as comprehensive, up-to-date, and science-based. They claim to provide young people with all they need to know, so they can make fully informed decisions.
I don’t know about you, but where I come from, that’s called chutzpah.
K Paige Harden (2012) True Love waits? A Sibling-comparison study of age at first sexual i/c and romantic relationships in young adulthood Psychological Science Online First, published September 25, 2012
Sharon Sassler, et al (2012) The Tempo of sexual activity and later relationship quality, Jrnl of Marriage and Family, 74; 708-725