I just realized I am finally writing about papers published in 2018. That was a lot of catch up.
Do you remember your first kiss? How old were you? 12? 14? Sweet sixteen and finally been kissed? For many, the first kiss experience is very positive and generally linked to wellbeing. I recently became interested in studying kissing because of my interest in normative sexuality development. Most adolescents spend a lot more time kissing than having penetrative sex, yet almost all of our research is on penetrative sex.
While writing this paper we informally called it the “Kissing Virgins” paper. In this paper we considered college students who had never kissed a partner by the first semester of college, and the personal, contextual, and adjustment/health predictors of this delayed onset of kissing. Although by the start of college it is normative to either have or have not ever engaged in vaginal sex, students who have never kissed a partner at the start of college are off-time from their peers.
We found that by Fall of first year of university, about 14% of students had never kissed a partner – most (95%) of these students had never engaged in any other sexual behaviors (touching, oral sex, vaginal sex) either.
Demographic factors: Asian American students were less likely to have kissed partners than other students (28% of Asian Americans never kissed a partner compared to 7-11% of students from other ethnic/racial backgrounds). Only 1% of students in current romantic relationships, compared to 22% of students not in relationships, had never kissed a partner.
Personal characteristics: More extraverted students were more likely to have kissed a partner than less extraverted students. Although in the bivariate model, more neurotic students were less likely to have kissed a partner than less neurotic students, this result did not hold when all of the predictors were in one model.
Contextual characteristics: 32% of students in the honors college, vs. 13% of other students, had never kissed a partner. In the bivariate model, having a mother more facilitative of independence was associated with a higher likelihood of kissing a partner, although this result did not hold when all of the predictors were in one model.
Adjustment/health correlates: Students who drank more were more likely to have kissed a partner than students who drank less. In the bivariate model, students with better self-esteem were more likely to have kissed a partner than students with worse self-esteem, although this result did not hold when all of the predictors were in one model.
Religiosity was not associated with likelihood of kissing, suggesting that internalization of religious motives against sexual behavior does not transfer to a prohibition against kissing.
Overall, findings suggest that never having kissed a partner is associated with characteristics indicative of a lack of exploration – both in terms of having a non-exploratory personality, and less exploration in other domains like alcohol use. It is possible that this decreased experimentation provides fewer opportunities for identity exploration. Overall, findings suggest that not kissing a partner provides some possibly protective factors, and some indicators of worse adjustment.
“What Predicts Never Having Kissed by the Start of College? first appeared on Eva Lefkowitz’s blog on August 14, 2018.”