In adolescence, erotic desire develops gradually; from pubertal eroticism from the first bars to the more adult version.
The emergence of erotic desire is thus reflected in the search for new and often intense sexual experiences.
At the same time, adolescents see their emotional bonds change, to such an extent that couples (young people their age) take on a particular importance. Thus, the search for new sensations and the taking of risks inherent in adolescence coincide with the development of new affective bases of security, which accompanies the awakening of eroticism.
Hooking up and sexuality in adolescence
The attachment system and the sexual system are changing, as with other biological and social systems. However, the relationship between the two systems (sexual and attachment) is of particular importance in this period, due to their high importance, as well as the fundamental symbiosis between them.
This is due to the fact internal models of attachment (relational mental representations) are activated in the space of intimacy which involves contact with other people, especially during shared sex.
Both systems can be enhanced with each other, leading to healthy, enjoyable and safe sex. it happens when the person develops a predominantly secure hooking style. Thus, the adolescent who maintains a positive affective relationship with the reference figures will be less dependent on the approval of others and will need less risky behaviors to feel accepted.
Development of healthy sexuality
In accordance with what we said previously, in a study carried out at the University of the Basque Country, we observe that adolescents with a secure grip are the second group with the most sexual experience, after those who avoid insecurity; however, they are the least likely to pose a sexual risk. This may be explained by the fact that those who have developed secure internal attachment models explore the world and interpersonal and sexual relationships in healthier ways, taking less risk and dealing more effectively with different contextual situations and states. internal (psychological and emotional) themselves.
Conversely, the interaction between these systems can be dysfunctional, leading to unsafe and less pleasurable sex. So much, so much subjects with high levels of anxiety and / or attachment avoidance show more willingness to take sexual risks, as well as more risk-taking in sexual intercourse.
Here it is necessary to clarify the difference between willingness (attitude) to risk and the actual performance of risky behavior. Although those who are more willing tend to take more risks, it is advisable to study the two variables separately for better tailoring of interventions, as noted at the end of the article.
Anxious and avoidant models
Coming back to the sexual behavior of adolescents at risk, those whose profile is predominantly anxious will tend to having sex not out of interest in the sexual experience itself, but rather as a way to please the partner and being able to satisfy the need for relationship and acceptance. This is linked to their concern for rejection and abandonment and their heavy dependence.
For their part, avoidant adolescents show both higher levels of sexual experience and a willingness to take risks. This puts them in a particularly vulnerable position. This group could be using sex to escape or escape a highly emotionally charged situation. It is therefore the use of strategies to avoid or reduce stress through activities such as consuming alcohol and other drugs, performing sexual activities, or a combination of the two.
In conclusion …
As you can see in this short article, emotional, social and emotional aspects should be taken into account when studying and understanding the sexuality of our adolescents. In addition, this perspective makes it possible to adapt more precisely intervention strategies in the field of sex therapy and education.
In this way, the distinction between willingness to risk and the execution of risky behaviors makes it possible to know how to intervene before these behaviors are carried out, that is to say to optimize the efforts in the preventive field, in more to be more efficient. in sexological interventions.
In the same vein, the support of the available data work with parents in promoting sexual and reproductive health, given the emotional and regulatory role they play.
Therefore, including the aspects mentioned in the educational and intervention programs, the adolescent is encouraged to develop the skills necessary to deal with situations of high emotional and erotic load, also calibrating the influence of internal models of attachment. . . This significantly contributes to the development of a more positive, more satisfying and less risky adolescent sexuality.
Author: Borja Luque, general health psychologist and sex therapist at Vitaliza Psicologia de la Salud.