Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Autumn Edwards

Second Advisor

Dr. Leah Omilion-Hodges

Third Advisor

Dr. Jimmie Manning


Self-disclosure, sexual communication, relationship status, Actor-Partner Independence Model (APIM), Romantic Dyad

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Sexual communication and sexual self-disclosure (SSD) are often viewed as taboo and uncomfortable when discussed between sexual partners. Prior research has demonstrated a strong connection between SSD and other relational factors in current dating and married partners. To that end, this study uses an Actor-Partner Independence Model (APIM) with current cross-sex sexual and romantic partners to understand how emergent adults experience SSD and the role it plays in their relational satisfaction and uncertainty. Social Penetration Theory (Altman & Taylor, 1973) undergirds this study as a theoretical foundation in fleshing out the ways emergent adults self-disclose about their sexual lives to their current partner and how it affects the relationship overall. The results of dyadic survey research designed to test the associations between communication about sex and relationship indicated a significant relationship between partner’s levels of SSD and sexual satisfaction and the individuals SSD and their own sexual satisfaction. Future research is suggested to examine to what extent SSD has on the relationship and individuals in the relationship over the course of time.