The development of romantic relationships and adaptations in the system of peer relationships
In this review, it is proposed that a systems approach to the study of the development of romantic relationships might enhance our understanding of the nature of social relationships, and the links between social relationships and individual psychosocial functioning. First, a selected literature review is provided on the normative development of romantic relationships during adolescence, antecedents of different romantic involvement pathways, and positive and negative qualities of these relationships. Second, the focus is placed on the how the development of romantic relationships occurs within existing systems of relationships including peer networks and close friendships. It is suggested that the development of romantic relationships may change the peer network and nature of relationships with friends and others, and particular types of transitions in social relationships will likely occur. The timing of these transitions and an understanding of the entire peer system as romantic relationships develop will likely improve our understanding of individual developmental processes such as identity formation and the development of externalizing and internalizing problems. Finally, it is proposed that adolescents are faced with a complicated task that includes developing romantic interests and relationships but managing their changing social networks.
Journal of Adolescent Health: Official Publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine