How Do Youths Perceive Romantic Relationships?
CA1 – Literature Review
School of Communication, Arts & Social Sciences
Diploma in Applied Drama & Psychology
SC5036 Working with Children
Semester 2 2017/18
I have decided to focus on youths’ perception of romantic relationships as romantic relationships provide a valuable opportunity for adolescents to work toward achieving many important developmental tasks including: developing ’emotional autonomy’ or independence, identity formation and forms the foundations of adolescents’ ‘romantic self-concept’. Dr. Reed Larson, a professor of human and community development at the University of Illinoi, correlated more numerous negative perceptions and superficiality in youths’ attachments. A survey conducted by Dr. Jay Silverman, director of violence prevention programs at the Harvard School of Public Health, published in August in The Journal of the American Medical Association, reported that about one in five high school girls had been physically or sexually harmed by a dating partner. Discussing youths’ perception of romantic relationships is important as their perceptions can greatly negatively affect their lives as compared with girls who had not been abused, the victims were four to six times as likely to have been pregnant, eight to nine times as likely to have attempted suicide, three to four times as likely to have used laxatives or vomiting to lose weight, and three to five times as likely to have used cocaine.
How Do Youths Perceive Romantic Relationships?
Synthesis and evaluation
Over the past decades, several measures have been developed to assess different components that make up romantic relationships. The first to operationalize love, Rubin (1970, 1973) developed a measure to index three components; trust, caring and need. The last to do so, Sternberg (1986, 1988), in the triangular theory of love, defined love as consisting of three components: intimacy, passion, and commitment. However, researchers have focused their efforts on Lee’s (1973, 1988) original typology: eros (physical love), mania (obsessive love), storge (companionate love), pragma (practical, objective love), ludus (game-playing love) and agape (all-giving, self-sacrificing love). There is increasing research that relationship qualities vary with age such that adolescents have more affiliative, companionate relationships while older age groups have more committed, loving and supportive relationships. Regarding relationship behaviours, with age partners engage in behaviours that suggest higher levels of relationship commitment and intensity (e.g. meeting partner’s parents or going out alone with partner).
Most research findings are consistent with the idea that romantic relations during adolescence facilitate either positive or negative developmental courses. For example, adolescent romantic relationships have the potential to contribute to the development of interpersonal competence, a more complex and differentiated self, and positive future attachments. On the other hand, adolescent romantic partnerships may also facilitate the occurrence of risky behaviour, including substance abuse and unprotected sex. Where these behaviours are viewed as normal and part of the’ relationship experience’. When a problem between romantic partners does occur, it is often the consequence of a complex interpersonal process and is likely to have an effect on the psychological well-being of one or both partners. For example, the decision to have unprotected sex is influenced by the attitudes, beliefs, competencies, and behaviours of both partners. Also, when violence occurs between romantic partners, it is often part of a long-lasting pattern of dysfunctional relational beliefs and behaviours, where partners chose to stay on in the relationship though one of them may be suffering from it because they have a misconstrued idea of love and what it means to be loved.
On the topic of risk and protective factors for romantic relationships in youths, categorizing the 53 risk factors identified. Many of these factors gather together in several key components. Firstly, attitudes, such as acceptance of violence in dating relationships, were also found to predict adolescent dating violence perpetration. Certain behaviours also were longitudinal predictors of subsequent adolescent dating violence perpetration, and these included the use of aggressive media, aggressive behaviour towards peers or others, substance use, precocious sexual behaviour, and having antisocial peers. Furthermore, having a hostile relationship with one’s partner also predicted dating violence perpetration. Secondly, demographic factors, including age, child’s sex, and race, were found to be longitudinal predictors of dating violence perpetration. Only behaving in a manner towards one’s dating partner that is discrepant with one’s attitudes about dating abuse (cognitive dissonance), empathy, good grades, verbal IQ, having a positive relationship with one’s mother, and feeling a sense of school attachment were found to be protective.
Conclusion and summary
Youths have a general consensus of what love is and for the most part it seems to be more affiliative, companionate relationships. In turn, most youths’ inclination to partake in risky behavior increases because they do not place a significant amount of importance on their current relationship or the future of it. Taking into account that most research findings are consistent with the idea that romantic relations during adolescence facilitate either positive or negative developmental courses, it suggests that effective prevention programs may be necessary for those that target youth who have experienced maltreatment and other adverse childhood events, who have particular mental health problems, behave aggressively and have aggressive attitudes, use substances, and are in hostile or unhealthy dating relationships. Many of the risk factors for adolescent dating violence that have been identified are also risk factors for other types of violence perpetration.
Areas for further exploration
The first follow-up intervention that could be carried out is an applied drama workshop that educates youths on the respect one needs to have for themselves as well as their partner when in a relationship. To address the identified risk and protective factors for dating violence perpetration are also relevant to other youth risk behaviors (e.g., gang violence perpetration, substance use, self-harm and suicide), this applied drama program I am suggesting could benefit from allying themselves with prevention programs from other, related fields. By ensuring a safe space for participants to open up and share their thoughts on relationships and what it means to love someone, I as a facilitator can educate and guide them to understanding what is a healthy relationship. A healthy relationship would be defined as a connection based on: mutual respect, trust, honesty, ssupport, fairness/equality and good communication.
The last follow-up intervention that could be carried out is a participatory photography project. The target audience for this project would be youths that have not been able to go through interventions that would have prevented them from dating violence perpetration and have already partook in risky behaviors. This follow-up intervention will get students to curate a series of photos to showcase what it was like to have gone through those experiences and use these photos to reach out to those youths that may be going through similar experiences. I as a mentor will teach these youths how to use the cameras that will be given to them, to freely take photos in their own time. This is allow these youths to have complete control over what they create and present. In this process, the goal to have these youths feel empowered and at the same time learning from each other how their past relationships have affected them but is not a definitive part of who they are.
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