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Sexual And Romantic Development In Youth

2875 words - 12 pages

This paper explores the effects of one's context and biology on sexual and romantic development in youth and young adults. I find it perplexing that children mature very differently in terms of their sexuality. This brings to question whether nature or nurture controls one's sexuality and romantic relationships. Many authors debate over the importance of hormones and biological factors versus environmental factors in relation to sexual development. Despite Freud's notion, parental influence determines a child's sexual development, many instances show that even "healthy" parenting results in children with unhealthy sex lives. For this reason, authors seek evidence supporting the importance of hormones as an influence on an adolescent's sexual maturation. However, other authors seek support for the importance of contextual influence on a person's sexual development. So, does a child's sexual and romantic development depend on biological or environmental factors or a combination of both?Environmental Influences on Sexual/Romantic DevelopmentCyranowski and Andersen (1998), investigate how sexual self-schemas are cognitive generalizations about sexual aspects of the self. Also, these authors explore the importance of early attachment relationships in infants and maturing adolescents to sexual development. These views about sexual aspects of the self (sexual self-schemas), "derive from past experience[s], manifest in current sexual cognition, and guide sexual behavior" (Cyranowski and Andersen 1).Attachment patterns first develop within early infant-caregiver relationships; therefore, "differences in the nature of and quality of these early interactions may result in the development of alternative 'internal working models,' or schemas regarding the self and self-other interactions" (3). The Attachment Theory suggests, one's earliest cognitive representations are those regarding one's self and relationships with others, which develop from infancy (15). The quality of these early relationships influences the development of mental models affecting later relationships. In other words, if early caretakers are neglectful or inconsistent, the child may "develop schemas of attachment relations as unavailable or inconsistent and may concomitantly develop schemas of the self as unworthy or unlovable" (15). These early relationships are the building blocks on which later personal and interpersonal relationships are based. Sexual self-structures remain closely associated with an individual's early attachment representations, particularly throughout adolescence and early adulthood (17). Throughout adulthood, one's sexual self-schemas may "influence attachment behaviors within romantic-sexual relationships[,] as well as one's view of the self as a sexually mature adult" (17).Cyranowski and Andersen's (1998) investigation, completed at Ohio State University, focuses on assessing sexual responses and romantic attachment patterns in women. "The participants [are] 318...

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