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CONTEXT: Because sexual negotiations within young adult couples have consequences for sexual and reproductive health, it is important to determine associations between relationship contexts and sexual insistence.

METHODS: Bivariate and multiple logistic regression analyses were conducted on data from 4,469 young adults participating in Wave 3 of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (2001–2002). Analyses examined predictors of respondents' having experienced sexual insistence and having repeatedly engaged in sexual behaviors they disliked in a current relationship of at least three months' duration.

RESULTS: Seven percent of men and 8% of women had had unwanted sex at their partner's insistence. A significantly greater proportion of women than of men (12% vs. 3%) had engaged repeatedly in sexual activities they disliked, primarily fellatio and anal sex. Relationship characteristics were associated with sexual insistence, but gender was not. For example, female respondents who reported unreciprocated love for their partner had higher odds of reporting sexual insistence perpetration than those who reported that they and their partner loved each other (odds ratio, 3.9). Females were more likely than males to report repeated participation in disliked sexual activities (3.7); relationship characteristics were relatively unimportant for this outcome.

CONCLUSIONS: Young adults of both genders may need education on the importance of accepting a partner's sexual desires and being sensitive to both a partner's unwillingness to engage in an activity and the true extent of a partner's dislike of certain activities. They may also need guidance on how to voice their own preferences and dislikes.