Behavioral and Relational Contexts of Adolescent Desire, Wanting, and Pleasure: Undergraduate Women’s Retrospective Accounts


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Studies of adolescent female sexuality often focus on coitus to the exclusion of noncoital behaviors, the relational context of sexual interactions, and adolescent women’s subjective perceptions of their experiences. In this study, 38 undergraduate women’s retrospective accounts of their adolescent heterosexual experiences were examined. Generalized estimating equation models were used to test the relation of diverse heterosexual behaviors and relationship types to participants’ subjective perceptions of desire, wanting, and pleasure. Of the sexual behaviors, coitus was the strongest predictor of participants’ subjective perceptions. Compared to coitus, erotic touching, manual stimulation, and fellatio were significantly less predictive; there were no differences between coitus and cunnilingus or coitus and kissing. Of the relationships (serious, dating, “friends with benefits” [FWBs], and “hookups”), FWBs was the strongest predictor of participants’ desire, wanting, and pleasure; in comparison, hookups were significantly less predictive. These findings offer insight into the sexual behaviors and preferences of young women, as well as distinctions between types of non-romantic sexual relationships.

Fahs-Beck Scholars

Meet the Scholars

Fahs-Beck Fellows

Meet the Fellows


Our grant programs are changing.


Learn more