Teenage Boys Desire Intimacy and Close Relationships: Study

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By Sarah Thomas | July 21, 2014 4:17 PM EST

A new study conducted by the Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health revealed that unlike the basic view of the teenage male's being aggressive, sex-oriented and not serious about their romantic relationships; they actually desire intimacy and sex in the context of a meaningful relationship. They value trust in their partnerships. The findings are published in the American Journal of Men's Health.

Reuters
Boys carry their surf boards ashore after their lesson was cancelled following a mid-air explosion from a rocket which was intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system, in Tel Aviv July 9, 2014. Finbarr O’Reilly/Reuters.

The study throws light on the development of masculine values in adolescence, an area that has been understudied. For the study, the development, progress and end of the romantic and sexual relationships of 33 males between 14 and 16 years of age were studied. They were all recruited during routine medical visits at a community adolescent clinic that serves low-income, predominately African-American adolescents.

The group members were asked questions about their sexual life, and other questions such as desirable partner characteristics, intimacy, closeness, and trust. They became sexually active earlier than the national average; this placed them at an increased risk for sexually transmitted diseases

"Prevailing values in our culture suggest adolescent males want sex, not relationships. However, values and behaviour related to sex and relationships are likely more complex than typically portrayed," said first author David Bell, MD, MPH and medical director of New York-Presbyterian Hospital's Family Planning Clinic/Young Men's Clinic. He explained that, in fact, very few of the participants described sex as the main goal of opposite-sex interactions and relationships.

The study found that adolescent males preferred close relationships, more importantly caring relationships. They desired intimacy with their partners and were not shy to expressed vulnerability and dependence. To them, trust is an essential part of the relationship.

These findings differed greatly from the older male's definition of relationships. According to Bell, sexually experienced adolescent males believe that relationships should be focused around sex, treating females as sex objects. They did not want any intimacy psychology.

Bell said, "Our sample was primarily lower-income African-American adolescent males and the results, while not generalizable, are transferable to similar populations of adolescent males."

Investigators are now probing into the method by which the beliefs of teenage boys evolve and transform into more dominant contrasting adolescent masculine beliefs. These findings are essential in understanding young men's young men's sexual health needs and adolescents' developing masculinity into health promotion.

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(Photo: Reuters / )
Boys carry their surf boards ashore after their lesson was cancelled following a mid-air explosion from a rocket which was intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system, in Tel Aviv July 9, 2014. Finbarr O’Reilly/Reuters.
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