“It Felt Good but Weird at the Same Time”: Emerging Adults’ First Experiences of Six Different Sexual Behaviors

Sara Vasilenko, Megan K. Maas, Eva S. Lefkowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Although sexual behavior is multidimensional, little research has focused on the experience of nonintercourse behaviors for adolescents and emerging adults. This article uses open-ended coded data from a longitudinal study of college students (N = 346; M age = 18.5, 52% female, 27% Hispanic/Latino [HL], 25% non-HL European American, 23% non-HL Asian American, 16% non-HL African American, 9% non-HL multiracial) to examine what emotional responses emerging adults report about their first experiences of six sexual behaviors. The four most common emotional reactions were happy, excited, fearful, and indifferent. Descriptions were largely positive, although mixed reactions were relatively common and emotional reactions varied by behavior. Results suggest the importance of including multiple types of sexual behaviors, as well as their possible positive and negative outcomes, in sexuality education programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)586-606
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Adolescent Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes



  • emerging adulthood
  • gender
  • mixed methods
  • sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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