The Benefits of Being a Late Bloomer

Young couple kissing

The average age of sexual initiation is roughly between 16 and 19. Although some teens wait until much later, many begin engaging in sexual behavior before the age of 15. Numerous studies have looked at the negative consequences associated with early sexual initiation, such as emotional problems, HIV/AIDS, pregnancy, and intimate partner violence. But recently, researchers at the University of Texas looked at how sexual-initiation age could benefit people later in life. In a study led by Paige Harden, 1,659 sibling pairs were evaluated from middle adolescence through young adulthood. They were asked when they began having sexual intercourse, how many partners they had, and, if they were in current relationships, how happy they were.

Harden found that the participants who were in satisfying, committed relationships in adulthood were those that started having sex in their late teens or early twenties. These individuals reported less relationship conflict and more respect, affection, and love for their partners than the participants who had earlier sexual-initiation ages. Harden tested this outcome further by including factors such as physical appearance, body mass index, and education and came up with the same results. She believes that people who begin sexual activity after they have reached physical and cognitive maturity may make better partner decisions and be more discriminating in their choices. They may also have stronger communication skills that can benefit their overall relationship.

The results of this study don’t suggest that earlier sexual initiation can increase negative outcomes. Rather, these findings demonstrate that being a late bloomer can act as a protective factor. “We still don’t understand precisely why delaying sexual intercourse is correlated with more satisfied adult relationships,” Harden said. She hopes that future research will look at the flip side of her study, and in particular if early sexual activity among teens decreases their chances of having satisfying, positive relationships in adulthood.

Ochsner, David. Does true love wait? Age of first sexual experience predicts romantic outcomes in adulthood. (n.d.): n. pag. The University of Texas at Austin. 18 Oct. 2012. Web. 18 Oct. 2012.

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  • Terri

    October 30th, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    But what can we do to keep our teens from engaging in sex at earlier and earlier ages? I kno we try to talk to them about making good choices, but sometimes those hormones start talking and it is next to impossible for them to ignore what they are feeling! I want to tecah my own girls to feel good about themselves and to have self confidence and to know that it is okay to slow down and take it slow but how do I know when what I am saying is actually getting through to them and that they will be able to wait?

  • Cord

    October 30th, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    As a result when I was a late bloomer, I really really hated it. I still looked like a kid when all of my friends were getting hair on their chest and were sounding like me!
    But now I do see the benefits of all of this happeneing late for me. I think that it made me appreciate women more than I would have because it gave me the chance to be with them as friends before all of that crazy hormonal stuff started happening. It gave me time to realize who I was and the things that I loved about school and about what I wanted my future to hold.
    Yeah, I love the ladies now but maybe I would not have appreciated all of their intricacies had I been thrown into sexual relationships with them earlier than I was.

  • Nance Y

    October 31st, 2012 at 4:13 AM

    Try telling the late blooming kids in any middle school or high school right now that they are fine, that this is actually going to turn out a lot better for them.
    Not only are you going to be met with a resounding chorus of sighs from the late bloomers themselves but you are going to cause a lot of fear in the kids who have developed and entered puberty earlier.
    We have to prepare them all for the inevitability of growing up, no matter what age it happens at.

  • Ally

    October 31st, 2012 at 4:42 AM

    Sex,without a doubt,is in the adult domain and kids should stay away.Its not just the physical aspects that sex comprises of,there are many more aspects that younger people are not equipped to handle and they often end up depressed or emotionally hurt.And let us not forget the often unsafe sexual practices these youngsters get into.Sex requires not just sexual maturity but mental maturity too,something that is often lacking in younger people.

  • sebastian

    October 31st, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    Well I didn’t have sex until I was 22. And looking at my friends who started out years earlier,I’m glad about what I did. No mental weight ate of a previous relationship or expectations to stand up to. Basically you are much more secure and cover yourself by blooming late.

  • Hannah Owens

    October 31st, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    This leads to more stisfying adult relationships because like it or not, you were able to mature a little more mentally before being thrown into the lions den of early sexual initiation. This is such a hard time for any of us, but if you have the time to mature a little more then ineviatbly you will make better adnd wiser sexual decisions than you would have at an earlier age. I know that it feels hard at the time when it seems like everyone else is developing and going through the things thta you wish you were going through, but it is so much better in the long term if you just hold off and can patiently wait your turn.

  • christina

    November 1st, 2012 at 12:15 AM

    well different people mature and have a sense of responsibility at different would not be right to dismiss all the lung couple as being immature and prone to problems due to being in relationships while being far too young.

    I was a mother at 18 and the husband and I are still happy with our little family even 20 years later.I think it depends on several different factors and not just age.

  • Miguel

    June 4th, 2015 at 4:45 PM

    As super late bloomer.i have to say dont wait. Dont rush take your time but not to you get older it becomes harder and harder. At first being virgin was a good thing and was proud. As i got older it became embarrassing and felt left behind and outcast and alienated.. and yes as ageing takes place it takes a toll not emplying the phycological and emotional issues that devolpe. And then the pressures of catching up and being like the rest.. and what people think or say. Wich have effects on one self and causesing issues doubts and thoughts that never had before. Any way.. i can be a rough if you wana grow up and have a family it will be tough . because to commit to one person and have a family is tough and lots of disaplin and sacrifice.and yes sexual intercourse is very important in a of the most. So rushing is wrong but waiting to long is can lead to bad mistakes and situations that are unhappy and be obligated for slowly getting through my issues. But you must get things out the way but not stupidly and comfortabley. Because it should times feeling week because after a while it does feel like its needed wich puts u in a position of vulnerability and can and will be prayed upon and taken advantage many ways. One thing i know dont care what people say.. that makes it works.and dont let know one tell you how u are or who u are.u can start to believe or doubt yourself. I was made fun of after. i told a woman i loved. The one trusted the most. She told every one. first blackmail. Then told people. Then making jokes and harass and mock.. then questioning sexuality.. the last one is the worst. That start to mess with my head. I start doubting and thinking who am i. But before that situation i had no problems of who i am how i am. And my sexuality, not that i every questioned myself ever but i did start letting it take effect. And stressing because not being like the rest. I do know u should know from the strat.most if not all people do. Some people especially the early bloomers and permiscouse are who harass the most. I realized that they are worse and are unhappy.there for pass on securities and bad feelings. Maybe out of jealousy and for past mistakes and life. And because regular sexual activity is enough for them or does nothing at all. Sex is beautiful and natural good thing. And fun. It shouldnt be avoided and douged as taboo or bad.and should be discussed in a proper manner, depending on they people and age and situations. Those who wait to long or rush both do not benefit from it.thank you every one.. i hoped i helped some one in a way. I know th is helped me. Have a great life every one

  • Bob from Tn

    August 18th, 2015 at 11:23 AM

    Another sexual late bloomer here too. I was not a late bloomer physically, but sexually. I guess I was a kid too long. When I was 16 or 17 I thought about sex, checked out the girls, but it did not ‘click’ in my mind. I was busy riding bikes, working on cars, playing music in the band, I guess I was immature mentally. I look back wishing I had quit playing hot wheels sooner & started pulling girls panties off. I had several girlfriends, but not to the point of sex. I guess I respected girls & was old fashioned. Fell all over myself at a girl when I was 18, several months later I threw all respect away & lost my virginity. Loved it. I still clearly remember it, even remember the date. I hate to say this, but I wish I had done it when I was 16. I had a few chances when I was younger but my innocent small world mind just was not clicking about sex. I am 50 now, I have only had 2 sex partners, somedays I have thoughts I should not have about other women, I know better to give in to temptation, 3 minutes of pleasure will destroy 30 years of marriage & my family,,,

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