Jan 13.pdf
THE INDIAN JOURNAL
OF
SOCIAL WORK
Tata Institute
of
Volume 74, Issue 1
Social Sciences
January 2013
The Emerging Adult’s Perception on Sexual
Relationships
Marital, Live-in and Extra-marital
ALKA PANDEY AND K. MAYURI
This exploratory study was part of a larger study undertaken in Hyderabad. Self devel-
oped questionnaires were used to collect data from 30 unmarried male and 30 unmar-
ried female respondents in the age group of 20-25 years. The main purpose of the
study was to understand emerging perceptions on sexual relationships among unmar-
ried adults.
Alka Pandey is a Ph.D. Student; and K. Mayuri is Professor and Head, Department
of Human Development and Family Studies, College of Home Science, ANGRAU,
Hyderabad.

INTRODUCTION
Human sexuality is how people experience the erotic and express
themselves as sexual beings; the awareness of themselves as males or
females; and the capacity they have for erotic experiences and responses.
Human sexuality can be described as the way someone is sexually attracted
to another person of the opposite sex (heterosexuality), to the same sex
(homosexuality), to both sexes (bisexuality), or attracted to no sexes in
a sexual way. Emerging adulthood has been characterised, in part, as a
time to explore sexuality and to gain sexual experience (Gilmartin, 2006).
Part of this sexual exploration may involve experimenting with casual
sex behaviour. Biologically, young people between ages 18–29 years are
adults. They are completing their education, gaining entry-level work
IJSW, 74(1), 31–48, January 2013

32
In short, most are not prepared for married life with a consistent and
socially sanctioned sexual partner whose companionship their parents or
grandparents might have enjoyed at the same age.
A survey conducted by India Today (2011) found that 60 percent of
working couples depend on visual stimulus to get turned on, 27 percent
prefer watching others having sex, 13 percent fantasize about orgies,
and 8 percent about threesomes. Experts blame this boredom on endless
distractions. The relentless pursuit of fatter paychecks and promotions, and
round-the-clock intrusion of BlackBerrys and the internet has left couples
with no quality time inside the bedroom. Emotional absenteeism has set
ways to reignite the passion in their marriages, most couples are seeking
options outside. Sixty-six percent husbands watch porn, 28 percent of
them are open to one-night stands, 23 percent admit having extramarital
affairs and 16 percent say they would not mind swapping their wives.
Also, 10 percent men admit to having had threesomes (
, 2011).
Among a sample of undergraduates, the antecedents to casual sex have
been found to vary according to gender. Men with lower levels of depression
opposite is true for women. Women with a greater number of depressive
symptoms are more likely to report having casual sex (Grello and others,
2006)
Oswalt and others (2005) conducted a study for exploring sexual regret
and surveyed students about sexual health issues. They noted that among
the sexually active, 72 percent reported regret in at least one sexual liaison.
Moral concerns were among some of the main reasons cited for such
regret. The stable predictor of regret was number of partners—the more
partners they had, the more likely they were to report sexual regrets.
About 24 percent of Indian men have indulged in sexual violence at
some point in their lives, and 20 percent of them admittedly forced their
Times of India, March 2011).
Women are not far behind, as 34 percent regularly watch porn, 24
percent have had one-night stands, orgies and even paid sex, and three
percent have had threesomes (
, 2011).
The objectives of the study were: (i) to study the emerging adults
perception on marital, live-in, extra marital sexual relationships; and (ii)
to study the gender differences in the perception of marital, live-in, extra
marital sexual relationships.
IJSW, 74(1), 31–48, January 2013

33
Rationale for the study
Very few studies are available on perceptions about sex and sexual
relationships in India. Psychiatrists have pointed out to sexual
incompatibility along with premarital and extramarital relationships as
While there is a lot of literature available in the West on sexual relationships,
such data is very limited in India. Most Indians still harbour conservative
views on sex, sexuality, premarital and extra marital relationships. The
present study seeks to look at the complex factors that impact sexual
relationships of individuals.
METHODOLOGY
The exploratory research design was used to investigate the present study.
The sample for the study was selected from the educated middle class and
the upper middle class groups of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. A total of
60 respondents comprising 30 males and 30 females belonging to the age
group of 20–25 years were selected through purposive sampling technique
the study).
The authors developed a questionnaire comprising 16 questions, which
was divided into three sections to understand the perception of emerging
adults on marital, live-in, and extramarital sexual relationships.
ANALYSIS
Frequency percentages in graphs were used along with weighted scores
for ranked items. For ranked scores, weighted scores were calculated by
giving each rank a score in descending order of the ranks. For example,
if there were 12 options for ranking, Rank 1 would get a score of 12. For
each item, the weighted scores were calculated as follows:
Rank 1 x Number of Respondents giving that rank x Score + Rank 2 c
Number of Respondents giving that rank x Score = Final Score
Emerging Adults
adulthood.
IJSW, 74(1), 31–48, January 2013

34
Perception: The act or faculty of apprehending by using the senses or of
the mind, cognition, and understanding.
Marital sexual relationship: Sexual relationship between married
couples (wife and husband).
Live-in relationship: A living arrangement in which an unmarried couple
lives together in a long-term relationship that resembles a marriage.
Extra marital sexual relationship: Sexual relationship between married
person and someone other than his or her spouse.
Marital discord: Lack of concord or harmony between married persons.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Emerging Adults Perception on Marital Sexual Relationships
Figure 1.1 shows that most of the respondents (66.67 percent males and
83.33 percent females) expressed that men generally initiate sex. Most of
them also said that they should have sex as frequently as they feel the need
(Figure 1.5).
FIGURE 1.1: Perception on Initiation of Marital Sexual Act
90
83.33
80
66.67
70
60
50
40
33.33
30
16.67
20
10
0
Male
Female
Male
Female
Most of the respondents, both male (66.67 percent) and female
(80 percent), perceived that females are generally responsible for
contraception (Figure 1.2). It was surprising to note that even among the
well educated, contraception is still perceived to be the responsibility of
women.
IJSW, 74(1), 31–48, January 2013

35
FIGURE 1.2: Perception on Responsibility for Contraception Use
90
80
80
66.67
70
60
50
40
33.33
30
30
20
10
0
Male
Female
Male
Female
Figure 1.3 depicts that 73.33 percent male and 66.67 percent female
respondents perceived that sexual dissatisfaction is the most important
cause of marital discord and it is on the rise at present. Eighty percent
males and 76.67 percent females said that husbands generally express
more dissatisfaction in sexual relationships (Figure 1.4).
FIGURE 1.3: Sexual Dissatisfaction as the Main Reason for Marital Discord
80
73
66.67
70
60
50
40
26.67
30
16.67
20
10
6.67
10
0
On the rise
Same as ever
On decline
Male
Female
IJSW, 74(1), 31–48, January 2013

36
FIGURE 1.4: Partners who Express More Dissatisfaction in Sexual Rela-
tionships

90
80
76.67
80
70
60
50
40
30
23.33
20
20
10
0
Male
Female
Husband
Wife
FIGURE 1.5: Perception on Regularity of Sexual Intercourse
90
76.67
80
70
60
50
40
33.33
30
30
20
20
10
10
6.67
6.67
10
3.33
3.33
0
0
0
0
0
Daily
Alternate day Twice a week
Once a week Once a fortnight Once a month As frequently as
the couple feel
Male
Female
Figure 1.6 shows that most of the male and female respondents agree
that couples need the help of counsellors to revitalise their sexual and
interpersonal relationships. It is quite possible that due to work load and
busy schedules young adults/couples are unable to give time to each other,
thus affecting their sexual and interpersonal relationships.
Marital vows were viewed as sacred by 53.33 percent males and 56.67
important; however, 46.67 percent males and 43.33 percent females felt that
it was not always possible or necessary to give sex much importance in
IJSW, 74(1), 31–48, January 2013

37
FIGURE 1.6: Perception of Couples on the Need for Counsellors to Revital-
ise their Sexual and Inter Personal Relationships

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It is not possible or necessary to give sex much
other's sexual needs
importance in marriage, there are other marital duties
Male
Female
When asked about the importance of sex in marriage, interestingly
50 percent of both male and female respondents said that it is the most
if there is lack of sexual satisfaction even if other marital functions/
responsibilities are carried out satisfactorily. However, 76.67 percent
females said that partners should make adjustments in sexual relationships
and not give up on their marriage. This statement reinforces the traditional
and stereotypical views held by women; however, only 23.33 percent male
respondents agreed on this point (Figure 1.9).
IJSW, 74(1), 31–48, January 2013

38
FIGURE 1.8: Perception on Importance of Sex in Marriage




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FIGURE 1.9: Importance of Sex in Marriage
90
76.67
80
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50
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20
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Male
Female
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Female
Figure 1.8 depicts that 73.33 percent females and 26.67 percent males
said that partners must curb their sexual needs and remain faithful to their
marital relationship, whereas 93.33 percent males and 6.67 percent females
said that partners can seek sexual satisfaction outside the marriage if it is
to be more faithful in their marital relationship as compared to men. While
men are not averse to seeking satisfaction outside of their marriage.
IJSW, 74(1), 31–48, January 2013

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40
Data revealed that men perceived romantic love, cooperation, partners
being attractive to each other and good communication between couples as
important for a satisfying marriage (Table 1.1). Women, however, perceived
good communication, having children, talking about sexual needs to each
other and cooking good food as more important. Men perceived that marital
sex was dissatisfying when there was lack of understanding regarding each
other’s needs, frequent requests for sex by a partner, and night shifts at work
and other psychological stressors as the main reasons for unsatisfactory
marital sexual relationships (Table1.2).
Live-in Relationships
FIGURE 2.1: Perception of Emerging Adults on Unmarried Men and
Women Living Together

80
66.67
70
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60
50
40
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30
20
20
16.67
20
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10
0
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Violating a basic principle Encouraging others to Couple are doing their own
alternative life style
of human morality
follow them. Destructive thing and not affecting
to society
anyone else
Male
Female
When emerging adults were asked to give their perception on unmarried
men and women living together, 46.67 percent men and 66.67 percent
women said that they are violating a basic principle of human morality.
Twenty percent men and 13.33 percent women felt that they were
experimenting with an alternative lifestyle. Some (26.67 percent men
and 20 percent women) said that this could be detrimental to society as
it would encourage others to emulate such behaviour, and about 16.67
percent men and 13.33 percent women felt that couples are doing their
own thing and this will not affect others. The India Today study supports
not acceptable to 61 percent Indians, and 23 percent feel it is not acceptable
to their families
–Nielsen Sex Survey 2011).
IJSW, 74(1), 31–48, January 2013

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IJSW, 74(1), 31–48, January 2013

43
Extramarital Relationships
When respondents were asked about their perception on individuals
seeking pleasure outside their marriage when relationships between
couples started failing, 63.33 percent men and 80 percent women said
that it was morally wrong. However, 23.33 percent men expressed that
it was okay if the whole episode was kept discreet and the family did not
get to know. Only 6.67 percent males and 10 percent females said that
extramarital relationships were okay as people need to satisfy their sexual
needs (Figure 3.1).
FIGURE 3.1: Perception of Couples having Extramarital Relationships
90
80
80
70
63.33
60
50
40
30
23.33
20
10
10
6.67
6.67
10
0
0
Okay, need to satisfy
Morally wrong, must not Okay if kept discreet and Okay if satisfied outside
themselves
do It
family does not get to
marriage, persone more
know
affectionate towards the
family
Male
Female
According to Figure 3.2, most of the respondents (60 percent male
and 66.67 percent female) said that extramarital affairs were on the rise.
However, 33.33 percent male and 23.33 percent female respondents
perceived no change, but had instead become more visible. A few
respondents said that extramarital affairs were on the decline. According
to an
survey, 23 percent men and 8 percent women have
indulged in extramarital affairs in India. Of these, 37 percent women said
that their husbands knew about their extramarital affairs, while 69 percent
men said that their wives do not know about their extramarital affairs.
However, this was not acceptable to 69 percent women and 50 percent
men (
—Nielsen Sex Survey 2011).
IJSW, 74(1), 31–48, January 2013

44
FIGURE 3.2: Perception on Present Status of Extramarital Affairs in Society
80
70
66.67
60
60
50
40
33.33
30
23.33
20
10
6.67
10
0
On the rise
Same as ever, but more visible
Are on the decline
Male
Female
FIGURE 3.3: Partner Indulges More in Extramarital Affairs
70
60
60
50
43.33
40
33.33
33.33
30
23.33
20
10
6.67
0
Men
Women
Both equally
Male
Female
Whereas most of the women perceived that males generally indulge in
extramarital affairs. Figure 3.3 shows that most men perceived females
to indulge in extramarital affairs. Around 43.33 percent males and 33.33
percent females said that both sexes were equally involved in extramarital
affairs.
Men perceive that the major reasons for extramarital affairs include:
becoming unattractive, desire to have varied partners, and the partner
IJSW, 74(1), 31–48, January 2013

45
respondents perceived that the main reason behind extramarital affairs
include: partners being too busy with other activities and thus unable to give
time, when partner diverts his attention towards other attractive activities,
with partner is not amicable, and boredom (Table 3.1).
Male respondents thought that the main repercussions of extra marital
affairs are divorce, desertion, lack of warmth and affection between
partners (Table 3.2). They also thought that they may lose status among
friends and relatives in society, and that the deserted partner may suffer
from psychological stress. Most of the female respondents thought that
family because male partners start spending money on their extramarital
partners. The other results of extramarital affairs are divorce, loss of status
in society, children losing faith in the parents. The deserted partners suffer
from psychological stress and the couple could get separated.
IMPLICATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The present study only includes the perception of emerging adults on
sexual relationships. Therefore, future studies could include different
age groups like teenagers, adolescents, adulthood, and old age people.
After studying perception on sexual relationships across different age
groups, trend analyses of different age groups could be carried out.
Findings of the present study can be used to understand emerging adults
perception on sexual relationships.
understand emerging adult’s perception on sexual relationships.
CONCLUSION
The study clearly revealed that there are gender differences among
emerging adults on their perception on marital, live-in, extra marital
sexual relationships. Most of the male respondents had very bold views
on sexual relationships as compared to female respondents. Female
respondents considered sex as the important component of marriage
and do not think that people should give up their marriage because of
the absence of sex. They believe that the marital relationship is the most
important relationship and people should put all efforts to save their
marital relationship. Majority of the male respondents considered that
sex is the most important component in marital relationships and without
IJSW, 74(1), 31–48, January 2013

46
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IJSW, 74(1), 31–48, January 2013

47
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E 3.2:
e

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IJSW, 74(1), 31–48, January 2013

48
for extramarital affairs. Female respondents perceived that extramarital
affairs happen when partners are too busy with other activities and are
therefore unable to give time.
Male respondents thought that the main repercussions of extra marital
affairs are divorce, desertion, lack of warmth and affection between
main repercussion of extra marital affairs. Researchers and counsellors
society like India where there is limited data available on perception of
emerging adults thinking and knowledge on sexual relationships.
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:
Changes in College Women’s Attitudes toward Sexual
2006
Intimacy, Journal of Research on Adolescence, 16(3), 429–
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Grello, C.M.,
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Welsh, D.P. and
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Harper, M.S.
2006
India Today
:
Bold and Bored, (Nielsen Sex Survey) XXXVI (49), 41–84.
2011
Oswalt, S.B.,
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Cameron, K.A. and
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Koob, J.J.
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IJSW, 74(1), 31–48, January 2013