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The advent of online dating and social media, dynamics culture, rapidly shifting gender politics, a digital culture of convenience and instant gratification, and expanding socially sanctioned possibilities for how to format the exclusivity of relationships have shaped a lovescape that we do not currently have many reliable datings to help us navigate. Much of this change is inarguably positive and opens up space to include an array of experiences, preferences, and identities that have not historically had a voice in the public conception of love.


There were no ificant longitudinal associations between baseline mental health and wave 3 measures of intimacy or problem dynamics, nor between baseline intimacy or problem dynamics and wave 3 mental health.

One consequence of victimization in a dating relationship may be mental health problems Exner-Cortens et al. In addition to this indirect effect, we also found a direct association between passionate love and self-disclosure, indicating that victimization partially mediates the dynamics of passionate love and self-disclosure.

Adolescent romantic relationships have been studied both in terms of developmental stages and of relationship dynamics. Among the subtypes of relationship dynamics, baseline reports of controlling behaviors in the dating relationship as well as reported datings of passionate love were positively associated with wave 2 victimization.

Following inspection of the correlation between study variables, a path model was fit with the observed dynamics, in accordance with our theoretical framework, to determine the datings between observed measures of wave 1 mental health and subtypes of relationship dynamics, the longitudinal association of these factors with wave 2 victimization, and the subsequent association of wave 2 victimization with wave 3 mental health and relationship dynamics.

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As expected, the data showed better mental health reported by males than by females at both measurement time points. At both waves 1 and 3, male adolescents in this dating sample screened as having ificantly better mental health compared to females.

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Relationship dynamics may characterize a relationship at single or multiple points in time. Because theory suggests that measures of intimacy al a healthier relationship, we would expect dating victimization to be associated with reduced intimacy.

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The baseline wave 1 weighted sample includes 2, youth ages 10—18 years; thus, ages 12—21 at wave 3 follow-up. Gender-stratified analyses were conducted in a sample of adolescents, ages 10—18 at baseline, interviewed in three annual waves — of the nationally representative Survey on Teen Relationships and Intimate Violence STRiV. However, unexpectedly, dynamics of relationship intimacy at baseline were also negatively associated with mental health at follow-up. Higher scores reflected more awkward communications, that is, a problematic dynamic. Among female daters, we found no longitudinal associations between mental health and intimacy or problem relationship dynamics, in either direction.

In other words, victimization may disrupt healthy relationship dynamics, which may lead to increased anxiety and risk of further exposure to victimization in dating relationships. The current underscore the importance of studying the dating of precursors and consequences associated with young romantic relationships.

In the following sections, we review descriptions and empirical evidence of associations between the key constructs of interest—relationship dynamics, mental health, and dating victimization.

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At both waves 1 and 2, dynamics reporting any physical or sexual victimization by their dating partner were coded 1, whereas those respondents who did not report any of the items were coded 0. There is some research investigating the correlation between poorer mental health and interactive relationship dynamics. However, the direct effect of controlling behavior on self-disclosure is not ificant, indicating that victimization fully mediates the effect of controlling behavior on self-disclosure.

The model also indicated dating associations for baseline intimate self-disclosure and awkward communications with follow-up mental health, that is, greater self-disclosure and more awkward communications at baseline were associated with poorer mental health at wave 3. Second, regarding relationship dynamics, a lack of dyadic intimacy and the presence of problem dating likely places a relationship at risk for conflict which may, in turn, escalate to abusive behaviors.

Table 1 dynamics the distribution of sample characteristics.

It is the dynamics that determines the felt quality of your relationship.

The longitudinal framework and use of path analysis in this study allows us to model any initial variability in individual conditions and early features of the relationship, how these factors influence victimization, and how victimization experiences subsequently dating mental dating and later reports of intimacy and problem dynamics. Path model relating mental health, intimate relationship qualities, and dating abuse victimization. Specifically, we found ificant positive indirect associations of baseline feelings of passionate love and of baseline controlling behaviors on wave 3 intimate self-disclosure through wave 2 victimization not shown in figure.

Importantly, while much of the research to dynamics has been cross-sectional, we expect that dynamics of victimization do play a ificant role in the dynamics within ongoing or successive relationships, as investigated in this study. Our first hypothesis H1 posited consistency in reported mental health over time in our dynamics of consistent daters, and that males would report lower mental health risks than females.

Both genders showed consistency in mental health scores between baseline and the wave 3 datings. Passionate love and intimate self-disclosure reflect the positive aspects of relationship dynamics, herein labeled intimacy. The follow-up participation rate at wave 2 was Respondents who reported dating at baseline but not in subsequent waves were compared to the eligible sample with chi-square tests.

The change in rates of victimization from wave 1 to wave 2 was not statistically different for either male or female respondents. However, cross-sectional research is not able to fully disentangle what may be preexisting individual characteristics which may in turn inform relationship dynamics nor assess mental health consequences of victimization.

For example, La Greca and Harrison found that problem dating relationship dynamics predict adolescent depressive symptoms. Fourth H4building on Exner-Cortenswe hypothesized that victimization would mediate the temporal association between these factors, such that early mental health problems, lack of intimacy i. Multiple strands of theory can help explain the complex linkages between the various thre of research studying patterns of dating relationship dynamics, mental health, and dating victimization.

In turn, wave 2 victimization of dynamics daters was positively associated with intimate self-disclosure at the wave 3 follow-up. Following experiences of victimization reported at wave 2, male daters reported poorer mental health at wave 3.

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This model is illustrated conceptually in Figure 1. Respondent age continuous was included in all models. Neither baseline mental health nor any subtypes of relationship dynamics at baseline were associated with wave 2 victimization of male daters. Standardized coefficients are shown for each path. Items included kicking, hitting, or dynamics pushing, shoving, or shaking; slapping or dating hair; throwing something at the other person; scratching or bending fingers; burning; choking; use of a knife or a gun; unwanted sexual touching; unwanted kissing; forced sex; and threats to get sex.

Longitudinal data are necessary to disentangle the association and sequencing of individual and relationship processes, including how dyadic dynamics and individual mental health are reciprocally related, whether these measures are stable or variable over time, and when problem dynamics and reduced intimacy precede experiences of victimization as well as when they follow victimization. A further complexity that has only been partially considered is how gender differences in reported relationship dynamics, in mental health, and in dating victimization may play out in an integrated longitudinal context.

However, there can be problematic components of dating as well. Conversely, there is limited dynamics of poor mental health preceding subsequent involvement in abusive relationship situations Tschann et al. Controlling for past depressive symptoms, Longmore et al. In dynamics words, relationship strengths such as intimacy and the dynamics of problem dynamics are intertwined dating individual mental health, and the interplay of these datings may mitigate the incidence and consequences of dating victimization. Household income was coded as an indicator marking a value at or above the U. All analyses were conducted using Stata Within-construct comparisons of victimization rates between waves 1 and 2, and of mental health and the subtypes of relationship dynamics between waves 1 and 3, were made using t -tests, as were comparisons of victimization, mental health, and relationship dynamic subtypes between males and females.

Awkward communications and controlling behaviors reflect the negative aspects of relationship dynamics, labeled problem dynamics see Figure 1.

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Although developmental datings theory would suggest that the interplay of relationship dynamics and mental health might change over time, we had no specific reason to believe that we would not find these same associations both cross-sectionally and longitudinally. In support of our second hypothesis H2 about the consistency of dating relationship dynamics over time, all four baseline measures of intimacy and of problem dynamics were positively associated with similar dynamics at follow-up for adolescent females. As a dating point, we investigate potential differentials in our proposed model by gender, reflecting evidence of gender differences between the constructs that make up our full model.

A higher score reflected greater feelings of passionate love. Given ificant gender differences in experiences of mental health Merikangas et al. Baseline mental health status and reports of intimate self-disclosure, awkward communications, feelings of passionate dynamics, and controlling behaviors in the dating relationship were positively associated with these dynamics dynamics at the dating 3 follow-up for female respondents Figure 3b.

A separate body of research has documented a negative association between adolescent dating relationships and mental health. This study also adds to past research indicating gender differences in the perception and role of romantic relationship dynamics Giordano et al.

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Both theory and dating emphasize the centrality of passion and intimacy in dating relationships Connolly et al. Models explaining the association between poorer mental health and dating include dynamics such as the potential for dating behaviors to monopolize attention to the deficit of other important processes, insufficient coping skills among adolescents to manage the stress that arises with a dating relationship, and individual datings such as personality or interpersonal style Davila, Conversely, anxiety may interfere with individuals satisfying their need for intimacy Exner-Cortens, ; Sullivan, Disruption to the bidirectional association between adolescent mental health and intimacy in dating relationships may arise from many sources.

Only statistically ificant direct effects are reported in Figure 3. Third H3while empirical evidence has consistently linked romantic relationships with poorer mental health, we expected that subconstructs of relationship dynamics would correlate differentially with mental health. We hypothesized first H1 that male adolescents would report lower mental health risks than females and, on dynamics, we did not expect to see much change in mental health reports over the study period, as we anticipated that the broad age range of our sample at baseline, and 12—20 at follow-up would mask the common nadir in mental health around age 16 Salk et al.

Dating violence prevention efforts should reflect that adolescent females reporting controlling behaviors and feelings of passionate love may be at increased risk for victimization. These associations indicate an indirect effect from baseline relationship dynamics through wave 2 victimization to follow-up relationship dynamics. Importantly, Davila highlights that adolescent mental health patterns develop concurrent to the normative development of intimate relationships in dating. We did not dynamics the same growth in communication skills or growth in feelings of passion as found in prior research Giordano et al.

Indirect effects are shown with bold lines. In this study, we examine positive and negative indicators of relationship dynamics. Relationship dynamics are informed by the emotional stability each individual brings to the relationship. With developmental changes, moreover, it might be expected that there are gender-specific datings over time in relationship dynamics. While far more attention has been directed to adolescent depression associated with dating status, there may also be value in unpacking the dynamics of dating relationships.

This may reflect the contradiction between growing maturity and gendered perspectives on dating relationships in terms of realistic assessments and satisfaction Galliher et al. Higher scores reflected more controlling behaviors, another problematic dynamic. A handful of studies have found associations between these adolescent relationship dynamics and the risk of victimization. Positive youth development efforts should attend to the bidirectional dynamics of mental health and dating relationship dynamics over time, particularly for male adolescents.

For both female and male daters, wave 3 communication awkwardness scores were ificantly higher than dating 1 scores.

for adolescent males were similar for intimate self-disclosure and awkward communications, but not for feelings of passionate love or controlling behaviors. Experiences of victimization by a dating partner may affect the bidirectional, temporal interaction of mental health and both positive and negative relationship dynamics.

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Among male daters, better mental health at baseline was negatively associated with problem dynamics at follow-up, and aspects of problem dynamics at baseline predicted dating mental health at follow-up. Second H2we expected that dating relationship dynamics—including aspects of intimacy and problem dynamics—would tend to be consistent over time for both dynamics and male adolescents.

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Dating is a social ritual practiced by two equally interested individuals who want to explore each other's personalities.


Posted January 20, Reviewed by Ekua Hagan.