Inside Sexual Relationships
This chapter explores the dynamics of young adults’ sexual relationships, offering a clearer picture of how young Americans pick their sexual partners, how long those relationships last, how slowly or quickly sex is introduced, and how they negotiate sex within their relationships. The chapter draws on an economic theory of sexual relationship formation and navigation, which helps explain why sexual double standards remain remarkably robust. Attention is paid to the phenomenon of “friends with benefits,” including how such relationships tend to form, with whom, and how they end. In their romantic relationships, many emerging adults make unwanted sexual requests of their partners. What do they ask for? And how do their partners evaluate such requests? This provides a segue into a discussion of online pornography, which is now nearly ubiquitous and tolerated within the vast majority of young adult relationships.
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