Relationship commitment, perceived equity, and sexual enjoyment among young adults in the United States

Adena M. Galinsky, Freya L Sonenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Very little is known about how enjoyment of sexual behavior is linked to the relationship context of the behavior among young adults in the United States. To examine this association, multivariate logistic and ordered logistic regression analyses were conducted using data from Wave III of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, collected when the participants were 18 to 26 years old (N = 2,970). Analyses explored the associations between four measures of sexual enjoyment and three measures of relationship context. Perceived equity was associated with sexual enjoyment, but the pattern of associations differed by gender. Perceiving oneself to be underbenefited was associated with less enjoyment for all four measures of sexual enjoyment among women, but for only one measure among men. Perceiving oneself to be overbenefited was associated with less enjoyment for three of the sexual enjoyment measures among men, but for only two among women. Most of these associations were no longer significant when subjective relationship commitment was added to the models. Among both young adult men and women, subjective relationship commitment was associated with all four measures of sexual enjoyment. In contrast, formal relationship status was not consistently associated with any of the sexual enjoyment measures. Young adults perceiving that they are in more-committed relationships enjoy their partnered sexual acts more, on average, than those in less-committed relationships. Anticipation of higher sexual enjoyment could be used by public health campaigns to motivate young adults to engage in fewer, more-committed sexual partnerships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-104
Number of pages12
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013



  • Demography
  • Sexual behavior
  • Sexual enjoyment
  • United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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