Introduction: Scientific literature and clinical practice still pay insufficient attention to the interconnectedness between love and sex. Especially youth would benefit in their sexual development from more attention (e.g., in parenting, education, sexual health services) for the complex relational context of sexual decisions and interactions. Methods: To gain more insight into young people’s dynamically intertwined early experiences with romantic relationships and sexuality, a new semi-structured interview method was developed as part of a larger study on the interrelatedness of love and sex (“Lovely sex or sexy love?”). The newly developed Relational and Sexual History (RSH) interview consists of five steps and is visually supported by a relationship matrix to sketch how developments in relational and sexual aspects of early intimate relationships (from adolescence to young adulthood) are interrelated, and how youth learn cumulatively (across their relationships) about what they do and do not want in their intimate partnerships. Results: The RSH interview method was piloted in 2018 in a small-scale qualitative study with N = 16 young adults (9 women, 7 men; 18‒25 years). This pilot study showed the method is suitable to assess the chronologic, dynamic, and intertwined relational and sexual histories of youth in a semi-structured manner. Conclusions and Policy Implications: The RSH interview method may advance scientific research on the linkages between love and sex and can be a valuable tool for clinical practice in sexology and relationship therapy (and increase cross-pollination between these clinical fields). The type of knowledge yielded by these interviews may profoundly impact policies for relational and sexual health promotion for youth.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This interview study was made possible with a subsidy of the Fund for Stimulation and Development of Sexology (Fonds SOS) of the Dutch Scientific Association for Sexology (NVVS). It served as a pilot study for “Lovely sex or sexy love”: A mixed-methods research project on the interrelatedness of love, sexuality, and well-being within young adult romantic partnerships, which was funded with an individual Veni-scholarship by The Dutch Research Council (NWO) [Dossier number: 016.Veni.185.260].
© 2020, The Author(s).
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