Spectrums of Love: Examining the Relationship between Romantic Motivations and Sexual Risk among Young Gay and Bisexual Men.

Published: January 6, 2012


We examined the association between HIV/AIDS risk behaviors and romantic feelings among single, young gay and bisexual men (YGBM). Romantic feelings may have positive (romantic ideation) and negative (romantic obsession) connotations. Consequently, we hypothesized that YGBM would report greater risks if they reported having obsessive thoughts about their relationship desires; conversely, we hypothesized that YGBM who envision a romantic relationship would report fewer unprotected partners. Using cross-sectional data from a study examining YGBM’s online dating experiences (N = 376; ages 18-24), we found a positive association between romantic obsession and number of partners for unprotected receptive (URAI) and insertive (UIAI) anal intercourse. Conversely, we found a negative association between romantic ideation and number of partners for URAI and UIAI. Is love risky or protective? Our results indicate support for both perspectives. We discuss the implications of our findings, highlighting the importance of addressing romantic pursuits into existing HIV prevention interventions for YGBM.

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