Sexual Intimacy in Dating Relationships


Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90024


The patterning of sexual interaction in male-female dyads and the links between sexual behavior and emotional intimacy were investigated as part of a two-year study of college dating couples. Despite generally permissive and egalitarian attitudes, traditional sexual role playing in which the man encourages intercourse and the woman limits the couple's sexual intimacy was common. Three types of couples were compared: sexual traditionalists who abstained from coitus, sexual moderates who had coitus only after emotional intimacy was established, and sexual liberals who had coitus prior to developing emotional intimacy. Findings are discussed in terms of the psychological meaning of sexual behavior for young adults.