We spent a long time talking about the measurement of romantic relationships. In particular, how to measure some ideal grouping variable to distinguish those in romantic relationships from those not. One of the papers we read, by Meier and Allen (2009) used Add Health data and these 2 inclusion criteria: whether the participant reported a “special romantic relationship” in the past 18 months, OR, if there was one person with whom they held hands, hugged, and kissed in the past 18 months. 85% of the romantic relationship sample was identified through claiming a specific partner, and the remaining 15% through engaging in the 3 behaviors with the same person. Other suggestions that came up in class as possible relationship status indicators included time/length in relationship, behaviors engaged in with partner, asking friends/peers if the participant was in a relationship, or asking participants something like, “would your friends consider you to be in a romantic relationship?” No one really wanted to tackle the direct question of how to ask whether someone is in relationship, yes or no.
We talked about gender differences in romantic relationship behavior, which is perhaps my only excuse to play this in class. I don’t think I realized before today how perfectly the song fits into a David Buss framework of mate selection.
We talked about unreciprocated love (crushes!) based on a chapter I really like, but it is challenging to link to, by Welsh, Grello, and Harper. The perfect example for talking about crushes/unreciprocated love comes from a blog where the writer posted entries from her early adolescent diary. So awesome. You will have to scroll around to find multiple entries in the month I linked to, but it’s worth it – you’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, you’ll relate, and you’ll think, wow, just like what research says!
Our student presenter discussed whether non-relationship sex has increased during adolescence, and whether it is unhealthy. She referred to some not-yet-published longitudinal data that suggest that hooking up in college has increased in the past few decades. These data suggest that rates of sexual behavior in the past year haven’t changed much since the 80’s, but that there is a slight increase between the 1988-1996 college cohort compared to the 2002-2010 college cohort in casual sex/hooking up. Specifically, among sexually active students, those in the more recent cohort were more likely to have a casual date/pickup sexual partner in the past year (44% vs. 35%) or a friend as a sexual partner (69% vs. 56%) and less likely to have a serious romantic or marital sexual partner (77% vs. 85%). Her conclusion on the second question, whether it is unhealthy, was mixed, though more likely unhealthy for girls/young women. My research group also has a paper on the short-term consequences of sex that suggests that although sex with dating partners and with non-dating partners are equally associated with positive consequences of vaginal sex, there are more negative consequences when with non-dating partners – though we did not find differences by gender.
“The post This week in Adolescent Development: Romantic relationships first appeared on Eva Lefkowitz’s blog on April 22, 2014.”