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How romantic relationship changes you

How romantic relationship changes you
Highlights

Your friends are right when they say, \"you changed after you started dating,\" a new study has suggested.The Florida Atlantic University study put to test the hypothesis that adolescents become less similar to their friends and more similar to romantic partners after they start a new romantic relationship.

Your friends are right when they say, "you changed after you started dating," a new study has suggested.The Florida Atlantic University study put to test the hypothesis that adolescents become less similar to their friends and more similar to romantic partners after they start a new romantic relationship.


Results of the study showed that adolescents who dated were more similar to dating partners than to friends on measures of alcohol abuse. Non-daters who started dating changed from being more similar to friends to being more similar to romantic partners.

This is the first study to use longitudinal data to demonstrate changes in friend similarity that follow from the initiation of a romantic relationship.

"The results confirm what most friends complain about - romantic partners are a distraction from friendships," said Brett Laursen, one of the authors, adding "It also is a stark reminder how the peer social world changes during adolescence. Same-sex friends become less important and romantic affiliations become more important."

Similarity is the hallmark of adolescent friendships and not coincidently, most single adolescents report friends to be among their most important relationships. However, the start of a new romantic relationship alters the balance of close relationships. As romantic relationships surpass friendships in terms of importance, adolescents are inclined to change to become more similar to their romantic partners, even if it means that differences arise with friends.

The findings suggest that participation in a romantic relationship does not elevate the risk of alcohol abuse beyond that involved in participation in friendships, said Laursen. "Instead, it is the source of the risk that changes. Friends no longer shape drinking habits the way they used to. Romantic partners now dictate terms. Your friends were right: You aren't the same person you were when you were single."

The study is published in Developmental Psychology.
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