MONDAY, Jan. 28, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly half of older teens and young adults break up and get back together with dating partners, and sex is part of the reunion process in more than half of these cases, a new study reveals.
The study included nearly 800 people, aged 17 to 24, who dated or lived with someone. The researchers focused on two specific relationship patterns: breaking up and getting back together, and "sex with an ex," which refers to couples who break up but still have sex.
The findings were released online in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the Journal of Adolescent Research.
About 44 percent of the study participants who had been in a romantic relationship in the past two years had gone through at least one reconciliation with a former romantic partner. Fifty-three percent of those who reported reconciliations also said they had sex with their ex, according to a journal news release.
Although the majority of the study participants were white (65 percent), the findings indicated that members of racial minorities were among those most likely to have reconciliation or sexual relationships with previous romantic partners, according to Sarah Halpern-Meekin, of the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and colleagues at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
The implications of reconciliation with former romantic partners were outlined by the study authors.
Older teens and young adults "who reconcile may be prone to a behavior pattern that involves cycling through relationship formation and dissolution," they wrote in the report. "Furthermore, having sex with an ex may be problematic because former partners can have difficulty moving on from an old relationship or building new romantic attachments," the study authors explained.
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers teens advice about healthy relationships.