Types of adolescent sexual relationships and associated perceptions about condom use

Jonathan M. Ellen, Sarah Cahn, Stephen L. Eyre, Cherrie B. Boyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to describe the various types of adolescent sexual relationships and to examine the association between the type of sexual relationship and adolescents' perceptions about the consistency with which other adolescents use condoms. Methods: Adolescents attending a university-based adolescent medicine clinic completed a self- administered questionnaire. Subjects were asked to rate the importance of six qualities (caring about each other, length of time of relationship, ability to talk about anything, ability to talk about sex and condoms, doing things together, and attraction to partner's looks) for each of four different types of sexual relationships (steady, casual, friends, and 'one-night stands'). Subjects were also asked to estimate the frequency with which adolescent's use condoms with each type of sexual partner. Results: Questionnaires were completed by 75 sexually experienced adolescents. The mean age of the sample was 16.6 years, and 41.3% were male. All qualities, except attraction to partner's looks, were rated more important for steady partners compared with the other partner types, and more important for sexual relationships with casual partners and friends than for 'one-night stands' (p < .001). Sexually experienced subjects believed that condoms are used less frequently with steady partners and more frequently with 'one-night stands' (p < .001). Conclusions: Interventions designed to increase the consistency with which adolescents use condoms should take into account the different types of sexual relationships, each with distinct expectancies about the consistency of condom use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)417-421
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1996


  • Adolescent
  • Condoms
  • Partners
  • Sexual Relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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