Pursuing a romantic relationship

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Romantic relationships tend to evolve over time and change to compassionate love, or may even be replaced by other feelings that are not as intimate and binding as love is. From: Human Sexuality, McIsaac, in Encyclopedia of Adolescence , Thus far, romantic relationships have been described in terms of closeness, emotionality, and the yearning for intimacy. We have attributed these strong desires to the emergence of pubertal maturation and sexual interests.

Yet the role of cultural norms and societal ideals cannot be overlooked. In the popular media, adolescent love has been portrayed in absolute terms to convey a sense of a deep passion, devotion, and selfless care for the loved one. Indeed it has even been portrayed as a sense of endless love.

Nonetheless, both common experience and empirical research shows that disagreements and conflicts are also integral to romantic relationships. While anger, envy, and contempt color all relationships, they pose a special risk to romantic relationships because of the voluntary nature of the affiliation and the heightened level of romantic emotions. In the face of intense conflict, partners are free to dissolve the romantic bond should exchanges fail to be mutually satisfactory. Research has shown that even in relationships that might have been perceived as close, conflicts can be found. Few partners are able to completely avoid disagreements.

Since disputes are inevitable, the mere presence of conflict reveals less about the quality of a relationship than does the way in which the conflict is handled. Moreover, though conflict may provoke relationship perturbation or even disintegration, it may also provide an opportunity to define new roles, improve communication, and strengthen interconnections.

Hence, there have been considerable efforts made to understand how adolescents respond to conflict with a romantic partner. According to adolescents' self-reports, the most common conflict resolution strategy used among romantic partners is to compromise and to propose a mutually satisfying solution. Somewhat less frequently, adolescents report using distraction to avoid directly confronting their partner or, alternatively, addressing the problem directly.

Turning to friends for advice or seeking their help is also a good strategy, although used less commonly than the other approaches to conflict. Observations of adolescent partners negotiating their disagreements reveal a somewhat different picture from their self-reported strategy use. The most commonly observed strategy is to downplay the disagreement and deem it as unimportant or no longer relevant.

As could be expected from these findings, not only is the of romantic couples where conflicts escalate low, but so also is the of adolescent couples who were competent in negotiating their disagreements and arriving at a better understanding of their relationship.

The comparison of self-reported and observed modes of resolution of disagreements among adolescent romantic couples further highlights the uniqueness and novelty of adolescent romance. As young people grow older, they are more capable of recognizing the value of reaching a compromise when they disagree. However, in reality it is far more difficult for them to apply these strategies when caught in the moment of disagreeing with their romantic partner.

Of interest, the tendency to overlook or downplay disagreements is more common during the initial stage of a relationship. The more partners reported themselves to be romantically attracted and preoccupied with each other, the less they acknowledge disagreements. It is probably, during the later stages of a relationship, when they move to a more stable footing, that partners learn how to sort out disagreements. This is important because addressing dissatisfactions within a context of unity is helpful for negotiating both closeness and individuality.

Success in this process contributes to mutually satisfying solutions and subsequent intensification of the relationship. Wendy E. Ellis, Tara M. Dumas, in Adolescent Dating Violence , Romantic relationships play a vital role in adolescent development, but for many teens, dating relationships are rife with violence and conflict.

Theories proposed to explain the etiology of dating violence include cultural and societal norms, individual traits and adjustment, and social interactions between family members and peers. Although we have focused on peer relations in this chapter, these relationships exist within a larger sociocultural context and undoubtedly interact with other predictors in a complex manner. The relative risk of unhealthy peer relationships cannot be fully understood without consideration of both broader values and individual differences.

Nevertheless, we have reviewed evidence here that emphasizes the central role of peers in emerging dating relationships. First, peer group interactions provide opportunities for dating, and friendships act a training ground for social skill development including conflict resolution, intimacy, and support. Second, during adolescence, peers are a major source of information for appropriate and acceptable behaviors in the context of their intimate romantic relationships.

The identity of friends and peers ificantly predicts dating outcomes. Although early familial relationships have long-term consequences for adolescent development, peers have the potential to exacerbate or buffer these early beginnings. We propose that prevention efforts should be deed to both optimize the positive power of peer influence and mitigate the risk associated with maladaptive friendships.

Deborah M. Sabina Low, in Adolescent Dating Violence , Romantic relationships are relatively new to adolescents and young adults, and the ways in which they are the same or different from more familiar sibling and peer relationships may be somewhat confusing and difficult to negotiate at first.

The transition to romantic relationship interactions may be especially difficult for youth with lower levels of social skills, inexperienced both in communicating and handling conflict, and lacking constructive ways to cope with frustration and distress. Furthermore, due to the issues involved in sexual attraction and involvement, emotions often run much higher in romantic relationships compared with sibling and peer relationships. By the mids this issue was lower in the rankings of choices, probably due to the fact that the relationships were now more stable and secure.

Youth may have a difficult time handling the triggering of strong negative emotions such as fear, sadness, and anger associated with jealousy and other issues within dating relationships. In addition, youth may underestimate the degree to which hurt and anger related to impulsive aggressive acts may be triggered in romantic relationships. A component on dealing with strong emotion may be a valuable part of dating PV-prevention programs. Some prevention programs do contain such components, such as constructive responses to anger within the Safe Dates Program Foshee et al.

As an emerging task, these relationships serve as an important domain to explore and gain experience Roisman et al. For example, examining conflict negotiation with friends and romantic partners, Furman and Shomaker found that mid-adolescent participants exhibited more conflict with romantic partners than friends during a video-taped discussion task, potentially because peer relationships were a more salient and familiar interpersonal context. This system develops over the course of adolescence, with maturation leading to greater inhibition of impulsive behavior and better control over responses to emotionally arousing situations Steinberg, Romantic relationships thus serve as a place to develop conflict negotiation skills in a new interpersonal context, one with pronounced emotionality to which many early and mid-adolescents have less ability to regulate their response.

Intimacy is said to trigger sexual desire and may be seen as a reward resulting from the experience of sexual arousal and—in particular—of orgasm Basson, Sternberg defined intimacy as the experience of strong feelings of closeness, connectedness, and bonding. Birnbaum et al. This effect was found stronger in women than in men. Women and men react to intimacy differently Basson, In romantic relations of longer duration, proactive sexual desire occurs more in men than in women Basson, ; Schnarch, Baumeister and Bratslavsky suggested that ongoing intimacy is not sufficient for inducing passion and sexual desire; instead, only abrupt rises in intimacy would allow sexual desire to arise.

They further hypothesized that a certain increment in intimacy causes a greater increment in sexual desire in men than in women. In women, the emergence of sexual desire would thus, as a logical consequence, depend on larger increments of intimacy than in men. Support for this proposition, that the emergence of sexual desire requires a clear rise in intimacy, was found in a longitudinal study.

Increases in intimacy were also related to more intense passionate experiences during sex e. Causes for this decline were attributed to biological aging, diminished health, and habituation to sex, found commonly in long-term relationships. They investigated intimacy, sexual desire, and partnered sexual activity in a sample of heterosexual women and men in romantic relationships. Both intimacy and sexual desire reached higher levels during late afternoon for both men and women.

They concluded that intimacy appears to act as a precursor of sexual desire that, in turn, increases the odds for partnered sexual activity to occur for both women and men. Lansford, in Encyclopedia of Adolescence , During adolescence, romantic relationships become a salient developmental domain.

Nationally representative data from the United States suggest that first-generation immigrant adolescents are less likely to form romantic partnerships than are native-born adolescents. However, once immigrant adolescents are in a romantic partnership, their sexual behavior is similar to the behavior of native-born adolescents.

For immigrant adolescents whose countries of destination and origin may have very different norms regarding dating and the formation of romantic partnerships, this new developmental domain can lead to conflict between adolescents and their parents as well as internal stress about how to negotiate these new roles.

These norms are quite different from those in countries where adolescents are expected to date and form different romantic partnerships before selecting their own spouse. Immigrant parents often encourage their children to marry partners who share the same cultural background. Foshee, H. Reyes, in Encyclopedia of Adolescence , The development of romantic relationships through dating is an exciting and important part of adolescence.

Dating is a prominent topic of conversation among teens, and as teens grow older, they increasingly report spending more time with their romantic partners than with their parents or friends. Through dating, adolescents can learn about loyalty, trust, respect, and cooperation and they can learn skills for interacting with others, including communication and conflict-resolution skills. Dating experiences can influence development of secure attachments, intimacy and identity, promote developmentally appropriate transformations in family and peer relationships, and provide opportunities for establishing autonomy and independence.

Although dating relationships facilitate healthy development for most adolescents, for some teens, dating experiences can be harmful. Experiencing violence and abuse in dating relationships can interfere with the developmental tasks of adolescents, distort perceptions of normative behaviors, become inappropriate guides for evaluating future relationships, and have negative psychological and physical consequences. Thus, adolescent dating abuse is a social and public health problem that needs to be better understood so that it can be prevented.

Pursuing a romantic relationship

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