Timing of a First Romantic Union Among Sexual Minority Young Adults

Sara Mernitz, Jaime Hsu, Amanda Pollitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cohabitation and marriage are critical milestones during the transition to adulthood; however, there is limited research on the timing of young adults' first same-sex unions. There is some evidence that same-sex unions may be delayed, particularly for men. Further, formation of both same- and different-sex dating relationships, common among sexual minority young adults, may also extend to cohabitation and marriage. We used the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health to predict the timing of a first romantic union, defined as a cohabitation or marriage, among sexual minority young adults. We then distinguished between women and men and the timing of a different-sex versus a same-sex union. Compared with heterosexual young adults, lesbian and gay young adults entered a union at later ages (driven by men), whereas bisexual young adults entered a union at younger ages (driven by women). Lesbian and gay young adults who entered a first union with a same-sex partner did so at later ages than those who entered a first union with a different-sex partner. Results suggest that patterns of sexual minority dating relationship formation might extend to unions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)879-899
Number of pages21
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2024


  • Add Health
  • Gender
  • Sexual minority
  • Union formation
  • Young adult

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography


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