Linkages between adolescent girls' romantic relationships, close friendships, and peer networks

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Annette M. La Greca, Committee Chair


The formation of close friendships and romantic relationships is an important social developmental task for adolescents, yet very little research has examined the linkages between close friendships and romantic relationships. The main goals of the present study were to examine: (1) how is be related to the quality of adolescent girls' best friendships, (2) whether romantic relationships and close friendships provide different types of support, and (3) how dating is related to peer group size and structure. Questionnaires were administered to 438 adolescent girls in grades ten through twelve in two high schools located in Miami, Florida Adolescent girls' best friendships were compared according to the girls' current level of dating involvement. Adolescent age also was considered in the analyses. Results showed that dating is a common experience in adolescence and becomes more frequent with adolescent age. Furthermore, findings revealed that: (a) involvement in dating is associated with more positive support and less negative interaction with best friends; (b) increasing age and dating involvement is linked with more reliance on romantic partners for support; (c) romantic relationships have higher levels of negative interactions than close friendships; and (d) peer network size and structure is related to dating patterns of adolescent girls, with casual daters having the most number of friends and the most opposite-sex friends and serious daters having the most friends who are dating. These findings indicate that mid- to late adolescence is a time when many girls are beginning to shift their attention away from friends and towards romantic partners. The implications of this on their relationships with close friends and involvement in their peer networks as well as issues for future research are discussed.


Psychology, Social; Psychology, Developmental

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