Study: Awkward teens have happier relationships later in life
Paige Harden, a research psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin, analyzed data from 1,659 same-sex sibling pairs who were followed from ages 16 to 29. The subjects were then classified according to the age at which they lost their virginity: early (younger than 15), on-time (age 15-19), or late (older than 19).
As Harden hypothesized, "late" sexual initiation was linked to higher education and higher household income later in life. These "late bloomers" were also less likely to be married and they had fewer romantic partners. However, of those in the "late" group who were married or living with a partner, they reported significantly lower levels of relationship dissatisfaction. This association held up even after studies looked at controlling factors known to impact relationship harmony, such as income, religiousness and body mass index.
Several theories have been suggested to explain these findings. Those who have sex later in life may also have certain characteristics that are beneficial to romantic happiness. They may be pickier, have more self-control, or lack thrill seeking behaviors. They also may have fewer romantic partners to compare their current relationship against.
Harden's research does not seem to be a mouthpiece for conservative groups who believe teenagers should practice abstinence. In a previous study, she found that teenagers who had sex earlier had lower delinquency problems.