Some start experimenting with sex at a very young age, others wait until marriage before losing their virginity. Paige Harden of the University of Texas, wondered if the age at which adolescents have their first sexual experience predicts romantic outcomes later in life.
She used data from the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health to look at 1659 same-sex sibling pairs who were followed from adolescence (around 16) to young adulthood (around 29). Each sibling was classified as having an “Early” (younger than 15), “On-Time” (age 15-19), or “Late” (older than 19) first experience with sexual intercourse.
The findings showed that participants who had a “Late” first experience with sexual intercourse were less likely to be married and had fewer romantic partners in adulthood than participants who lost their virginity “Early” or “On-Time.”
In addition, the participants who were married or lived with a partner were significantly more satisfied with their relationship when they started having sex after age 19.
“The association held up even after taking genetic and environmental factors into account and could not be explained by differences in adult educational attainment, income, or religiousness, or by adolescent differences in dating involvement, body mass index, or attractiveness,” according to the Press Release published by Association for Psychological Science.
The participants who had their first sexual encounter “Early” and “On-Time” were largely indistinguishable.
According to Harden it’s possible that “individuals who first navigate intimate relationships in young adulthood, after they have accrued cognitive and emotional maturity, may learn more effective relationship skills than individuals who first learn scripts for intimate relationships while they are still teenagers.”
Harden, K. (2012). True Love Waits? A Sibling-Comparison Study of Age at First Sexual Intercourse and Romantic Relationships in Young Adulthood Psychological Science DOI: 10.1177/0956797612442550