Adolescence and dating

Relationships can support sexual development, an important part of growing to adulthood.

Most adolescents believe that sex should occur within the context of a romantic relationship, and while not all relationships are sexual, most sexually active youth are monogamous.

In time, that confidence allows teens to resist peer opinion and choose romantic partners based on compatibility rather than social desirability.

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When this dimension of intimacy is missing, relationships often come to an end.

Sexual minority youth face hurdles in meeting potential partners.

While many adolescents meet their romantic partners in school, sexual minority youth are less likely to find these social circles at school, given the level of discrimination they experience as well as the small numbers of youth who have come out.

For more on romantic relationships and sexual experience, see Demographics: Sexual Health. Entering the world of relationships almost inevitably leads to the emotionally vulnerable experience of breaking up.

For youth who are more sensitive to rejection, breaking up can trigger a dive into self-doubt and despair.