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Implications of Pubertal Timing for Romantic Relationship Quality among Heterosexual and Sexual Minority Young Adults

Citation

Reese, Bianka M.; Trinh, Sarah L.; & Halpern, Carolyn Tucker (2017). Implications of Pubertal Timing for Romantic Relationship Quality among Heterosexual and Sexual Minority Young Adults. Journal of Adolescent Health, 61(6), 685-693. PMCID: PMC5701825

Abstract

PURPOSE: Relative to on-time or late-maturing peers, girls who begin puberty early typically begin romantic and sexual experiences earlier; however, advanced pubertal status does not necessarily coincide with commensurate interpersonal skills necessary for healthy romantic relationships. Research is limited on the long-term implications of early puberty for relationship quality, and virtually nothing is known about the social implications of early timing for sexual minority females.
METHODS: Using linear regression, we examine longitudinal associations between two measures of girls' pubertal timing (self-perceived timing and menarcheal age) and romantic relationship quality in young adulthood, stratified by sexual orientation, among 5,568 females in waves I and IV of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. We also examine whether identified associations are mediated by parent-adolescent relationship quality.
RESULTS: Among sexual minorities, early self-perceived pubertal timing was associated with lower adult romantic relationship quality compared with on-time maturers (beta = -2.32; standard error = 1.44; p = .05); this association was mediated by parent-adolescent relationship quality. Among heterosexuals, girls experiencing menarche before age 12 (early maturers) reported lower adult relationship quality compared to on-time maturers (beta = -.43; standard error = .22; p = .03); parent-adolescent relationship quality did not mediate this association.
CONCLUSIONS: Early maturation is associated with lower romantic relationship quality in young adulthood. However, evidence of the association varies by measure of pubertal timing, and the processes by which pubertal timing is linked to later relationship quality may be different for sexual minority and heterosexual females. Potential explanations and public health implications are discussed.

URL

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2017.06.010

Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published

2017

Journal Title

Journal of Adolescent Health

Author(s)

Reese, Bianka M.
Trinh, Sarah L.
Halpern, Carolyn Tucker

PMCID

PMC5701825