Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 47, Issue 7, pp 1531–1544 | Cite as

Long-Term Risks and Possible Benefits Associated with Late Adolescent Romantic Relationship Quality

  • Jessica Kansky
  • Joseph P. Allen
Empirical Research


Adolescent romantic relationships have the potential to affect psychological functioning well into adulthood. This study assessed adolescent romantic relationship qualities as long-term predictors of psychological functioning utilizing a longitudinal multi-method, multi-informant study of 80 participants (59% female; 54% Caucasian, 35% African American, 11% mixed or other race) assessed at age 17 along with their romantic partners and at ages 25–27. Controlling for gender, family income, and baseline mental health, partner-reported hostile conflict at age 17 predicted relative increases in internalizing behaviors from age 17 to 27. In contrast, observed teen support with their partner during a help-seeking task at age 17 predicted relative decreases in externalizing behaviors over time. The results are interpreted as suggesting qualities that may help determine whether adolescent romances have positive vs. negative long-term psychological health implications.


Romantic relationships Dating Adolescence Mental health Conflict Support 


Authors' Contributions

We would like to describe each author’s contributions to the submitted manuscript, “Long-Term Risks and Possible Benefits Associated with Adolescent Romantic Relationships,” co-authored with J.P.A. He conceived the overall study and participated in its design and coordination. J.P.A. also participated in the interpretation of the data and helped to draft the manuscript. J.K. conceived of the analyses for the study and assisted with its design, performed the statistical analyses, participated in the interpretation of the data, and drafted the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This study was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (grant numbers R01-HD058305 and R01-MH58066).

Data Sharing Declaration

The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are not publicly available but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

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