Mixed gender groups dating and romantic relationships

Romantic relationships are central to social life during middle to late adolescence (ages 15-19).Three-fourths of teens age 16-18 report having had a relationship, dated or "hooked up" with someone and half of these youth have had a serious boyfriend/girlfriend (Teenage Research Unlimited, 2006).Without a clear understanding of what a makes a healthy relationship, youth are likely to tolerate relationships that put them at risk.For example, it may be easy for a teen to interpret jealousy or constant text messaging as a sign of love rather than seeing the behavior as a warning sign of abuse.

Young people do not automatically know what constitutes right and wrong behavior in dating relationships.Young people are very receptive to information about healthy relationships; in fact, research indicates that youth want to receive more information on relationships (Wood, Senn, Desmarais, Park, & Verberg, 2002).We cannot afford to overlook the importance of adolescence as a crucial time to teach skills for developing healthy relationships.Healthy relationships help youth refine their sense of identity and develop interpersonal skills, as well as providing emotional support.While healthy romantic relationships have many potential benefits for youth, unhealthy relationships pose risks that may have long-lasting impact.

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