Mixed-gender groups, dating, and romantic relationships in early adolescence

Jennifer Connolly, Wendy Craig, Adele Goldberg, Debra Pepler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

263 Scopus citations


This study examined dating-stage and developmental-contextual models of romantic relationships during early adolescence. Same-gender friendships, affiliation with mixed-gender groups, dating, and romantic relationships were investigated in a sample of 1,284 young adolescents of diverse ethnocultural backgrounds. Data were collected cross-sectionally in Grades 5 through 8, as well as longitudinally in the fall and spring of an academic year. Consistent with a stage model, affiliation with mixed-gender groups and dating were qualitatively distinct activities that were sequentially organized and facilitated the progression from same-gender friendships to dyadic romantic relationships. The results also provide insights on how the developmental context may alter stage pathways: Dating activities were incorporated with mixed-gender affiliations, group-based romantic stages showed more stability than other stages, and the ethnocultural context influenced romantic timing. Finally, results indicated that participation in romantic activities heightened adolescents' future interest in having a romantic relationship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-207
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Research on Adolescence
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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