Biological: Genetic make–up and how it is physically expressed (one’s appearance).
Familial: Role modeling behaviors demonstrated by the closest adults to the adolescent, usually the parents.
Cultural: The roles assigned by the adolescent’s culture and the ways in which men and women are supposed to interact.
Societal: The mix of cultural norms that make up a society.
All of these factors are critical in creating a sexually mature man or a woman.
Sexuality in the early adolescent
The early adolescent is basically working on hormones and the models provided by parents and other adults close to the adolescent. These factors, combined with a new self–awareness that produces intense embarrassment, makes up sexuality at this phase. Adolescents will have romantic fantasies about ideal partners, but they will usually remain fantasies. A great place to watch early adolescents demonstrate their sexuality is at a school dance.
Sexuality in the middle adolescent
Middle adolescents have become surer of themselves. Their bodies are settling down and they are more comfortable with mixed–sex peer groups. They still have fantasies of ideal partners and now they can try out some behaviors at parties. Teenagers who wonder if they might be homosexual will really face that possibility at the middle adolescent stage. Boys who are gay will usually begin to confront the issue in this period, but girls frequently don’t acknowledge it until late adolescence or young adulthood.
Sexuality in the late adolescent
Late adolescents will hopefully have reached the point at which they can begin to enter into relationships giving to their partner as much as they receive, the hallmark of an adult relationship. Conflicts about sexual preference are being worked out and thoughts about more permanent relationships occur. Sexual behavior now frequently includes physical intimacy and more often than not, sexual intercourse, making safe sex practices very important. Abstinence is still a good option, but now young people need knowledge and practical advice in case they decide to be sexually intimate with their partner.