Dating and romantic relationships in adolescence

Teenage relationships come naturally with adolescence, just like acne, facial hair or mood swings- it’s completely normal, so it’s best to embrace it! There are a lot of emotions involved when teens start dating.Not only is adolescence overwhelming enough with school stress, navigating friendships and dealing with hormones- relationships add a whole other layer to the cake.

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"We found that relationships that were more supportive and satisfying, and those that had fewer negative interactions were associated with better psychosocial adjustment, above and beyond the effects of simply being in a relationship," according to Charlene Collibee, a doctoral student at the University of Denver, who coauthored the study.

"Therefore, it's not just having a romantic relationship that's linked to psychosocial functioning, but the nature of that relationship." The study also found that the links between the aspects of romantic relationships and internalizing symptoms as well as dating satisfaction strengthened as adolescents transitioned to young adulthood.

As part of the study, 100 male and 100 female tenth graders from predominantly middle- to upper-middle class neighborhoods and a range of racial and ethnic backgrounds completed questionnaires for nine years.

They were asked about their romantic relationships and psychosocial functioning, including internationalizing symptoms (e.g., anxiety, depression, social withdrawal), externalizing symptoms (e.g., aggression, delinquent behavior, impulsivity), alcohol and drug use, and dating satisfaction.

This study examined parents’ rules concerning their late adolescents’ dating activities.

Participants were mostly European-American, including 165 mothers or fathers and 103 of their children (ages 17–19; 28 sons and 75 daughters).

When teens begin romantic relationships it’s exciting, it’s consuming, it’s fun and it’s sometimes heartbreaking.

So be prepared to deal with a whole spectrum of emotions by letting your child know that they can come to you in the good times, as well as when things are getting tough. Chances are when your teen is in a relationship, it might feel like that’s all they can concentrate on or care about.

"Our findings highlight the importance of romantic characteristics across development, and tell us that we should be concerned not just with whether an adolescent or young adult has a romantic relationship, but also with the quality of that relationship," notes Wyndol Furman, John Evans Professor of Psychology at the University of Denver, the study's other coauthor.

"They also suggest that promoting high-quality romantic relationships in adolescence, and especially young adulthood, may foster more positive psychosocial development." Indeed, findings underscore that researchers, care providers, and parents should recognize that romantic relationships are not all the same, and that the quality of the relationship is key.

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