Understanding Sex Partner Selection, Inner-City Black Adolescents (2006)


Black youth and inner-city youth have disproportionately high rates of STDs with socioeconomic factors and environmental factors as determinants to this health disparity. Using the Perceived Risk of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (PRSTD) cohort study based in Baltimore, researchers surveyed 50 young people between the ages 16 – 21, who used STD services at a local health clinic. Participants were asked open-ended questions like  “Tell me about your most recent sexual relationship?” and “What did you give/get from this relationship?” Questions about the seriousness of the relationship and also economic standing were also asked.

  • Three main themes related to sex partner selection and sexual relationship dynamics emerged in the in-depth interviews: types of sex partners and desired traits, monogamy and affective needs. (Andrinopoulous et al., 2006, p. 134)
  • “From the perspective of women, there exists only one category or type of sex partner […] thought of as romantic partners” (Andrinopoulous et al., 2006, p. 134)
  • For many women, the ideal romantic partner is physically attractive, can manage finances well and can pay for gifts.   Some participants also said that the manner in which the romantic partner earns money and the status associated with the job are important factors. (Andrinopoulous et al., 2006, p. 134)
  • “From the perspective of men, there are two distinct types of partners, sex-only and romantic.” (Andrinopoulous et al., 2006, p. 134)
  • “Men emphasized the importance of characteristics related to personality and financial and education status more than appearance.” (Andrinopoulous et al., 2006, p. 134
  • Women and men in the study believed that a partner who is “clean” and “hygienic” in appearance is also “clean” of STD infection. (Andrinopoulous et al., 2006, p. 134)
  • “Young women desire a monogamous romantic partner, rather than a casual sex partner; however, to fulfill their desire for emotional intimacy, they often accept a relationship with a nonmonogamous partner.” (Andrinopoulous et al., 2006, p. 132)
  • “Young men seek both physical and emotional benefits from being in a relationship; having a partner helps them to feel wanted, and they gain social status among their peers when they have multiple partners.” (Andrinopoulous et al., 2006, p. 132)

Citation: Andrinopoulous, K., Kerrigan, D., & Ellen, J.M. (2006). Understanding sex partner selection from the perspective of inner-city Black adolescents. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. Vol. 38., Number 3., 132-138

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