Romantic relationships that are supportive with fewer negative interactions will lead to a better psycho-social adjustment among young adults. Higher-quality romantic relationships are associated with fewer psycho-social difficulties across adolescence and young adulthood, the researchers found.
Having an understandable partner "is associated with better psycho-social adjustment, above and beyond the effects of simply being in a relationship", said Charlene Collibee, doctoral student at University of Denver and co-author of the study.
Therefore, it is not just having a romantic relationship that is linked to psycho-social functioning but the nature of that relationship, Collibee added.
The authors sought to understand if all adolescent romantic relationships are equally risky and if all young adult romantic relationships are equally protective. They were particularly interested in learning when in youth's development the quality of a romantic relationship begins to be protective.
As part of the study, 100 men and 100 women young students completed questionnaires for nine years.
They were asked about their romantic relationships and psychosocial functioning, including internationalizing symptoms (anxiety, depression, social withdrawal), externalizing symptoms (aggression, delinquent behavior, impulsivity), alcohol and drug use and dating satisfaction.
"We found that relationships that were more supportive and satisfying were associated with better psycho-social adjustment," Collibee noted.
The team 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.
The findings are consistent with the idea that developing intimate romantic relationships is an important goal, and the significance of this goal increases as adolescents mature into young adults.
The study appeared in the journal Child Development