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Apply the filtering theory of mate selection. Define propinquity. Differentiate between homogamous and heterogamous characteristics. Define exogamy. Apply the Social Exchange Theory to mate selection. Today we search for soul mates. Look around you in the classroom.

The US Census bureau estimates that 8. Those numbers should be very similar in when the Census is collected. Does that mean that you could have 15 million potential mates out there somewhere? Yes, potential yet no in realistic terms. You see, it would take more time than any mortal has in their life to ever interact with that many people.

When we see people we filter them as either being in or out of our pool of eligibles. Filtering is the process of identifying those we interact with as either being in or out of our pool of people we might consider to be a date or mate. There are many filters we use. One is physical appearance.

We might include some because of tattoos and piercing or exclude some for the exact same physical traits. We might include some because they know someone we know or exclude the same people because they are total strangers. Figure 1 shows the basic date and mate selection principles that play into our filtering processes This inverted pyramid metaphorically represents a filter that a liquid might be poured through to refine it; IE: coffee filter.

That couple in the bottom right-hand corner is my wife and I on a field trip to the Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology in Ypsilanti, Michigan. She and I travel without our children at least twice per year and we have been attending professional conferences together for more than a decade.

We met in college in We dated, became engaged and married in the same year. All of the principles discussed in this chapter applied to how my wife and I met, became friends, and chose to marry.

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They will likely apply to you and yours. Propenquity is the geographic closeness experienced by potential dates and mates. Proximity means that you both breathe the same air in the same place at about the same time. Proximity is crucial because the more you see one another or interact directly or indirectly with one another, the more likely you see each other as mates.

I often ask my students how they met and when they tell their stories I help them to identify the geography that was involved in the process.

Physical appearance is subjective and is defined differently for each individual. Truly, what one person finds as attractive is not what others find to be attractive. There are a few biological, psychological, and social-emotional cts of appearance that tend to make an individual more attractive to more people. These include slightly above average desirable traits and symmetry in facial features. According to the Centers for Disease Control the average man in the United States is 5 foot 10 inches tall and weighs about pounds.

The average woman is about 5 foot 4 inches tall and weighs about pounds. Did you just compare yourself? Most of us tend to compare ourselves to averages or to others we know.

This is important to understand that we subjectively judge ourselves as being more or less attractive; because we often limit our dating pool of eligibles to those we think are in our same category of beauty. If you are 6 foot tall as a man or 5 foot 8 as a woman, then you are slightly above average in height.

For women: larger eyes, softer facial features and chin; fuller lips, and an hour-glass figure facilitate more universally desirable traits. Am I excluded from the date and mate selection market? There is a principle that I have found to be the most powerful predictor of how we make our dating and mating selection choices-homogamy. Homogamy is the tendency for dates, mates, and spouses to pair off with someone of similar attraction, background, interests, and needs.

This is typically true for most couples. They find and pair off with persons of similarity more than difference. Have you ever heard the colloquial phrase, "opposites attract? One of my students challenged this notion in the case of her own relationship.

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She said, "My husband and I are so different. He like Mexican food, I like Italian. He likes rap and I like classical music. He likes water skiing and I like camping and hiking" I interrupted her and said, "So you both like ethnic food, music, and outdoors. Do you vote on similar issues? Do you have similar family backgrounds?

Do you both come from a similar economic class? Couples are not identical, just similar. And we tend to find patterns that indicate that homogamy in a relationship can be indirectly supportive of a long-term relationship quality because it facilitates less disagreements and disconnections of routines in the daily life of a couple.

I believe that we filter homogamously and even to the point that we do tend to marry someone like our parents. Our mates resemble our parents more because we resemble our parents and we tend to look for others like ourselves. Heterogamy is the dating or pairing of individuals with differences in traits.

All of us pair off with heterogamous and homogamous individuals with emphasis more on the latter than the former. Over time, after commitments are made, couples often develop more homogamy. Maslow sheds light on how and why we pick the person we pick when choosing a date or mate by focusing on how they meet our needs as a date, mate, or spouse. Persons from dysfunctional homes where children were not nurtured nor supported through childhood would likely be attracted to someone who provides that unfulfilled nurturing need they still have.

Persons from homes where they were nurtured, supported, and sustained in their individual growth and development would likely be attracted to someone who promises growth and support in intellectual, aesthetic, or self-actualization becoming fully who our individual potential allows us to become areas of life.

It may sound selfish at first glance but we really do date and mate on the basis of what we get out of it or how our needs are met. The Social Exchange Theory and its rational choice formula clarify the selection process even further. When we interact with potential dates and mates we run a mental balance sheet in our heads. This while simultaneously remembering how we rate and evaluate ourselves.

Rarely do we seek out the best looking person at the party unless we define ourselves as an even match for him or her. More often we rank and rate ourselves compared to others and as we size up and evaluate potentials we define the overall exchange rationally or in an economic context where we try to maximize our rewards while minimizing our losses.

The overall evaluation of the deal also depends to a great extent on how well we feel matched on racial and ethnic traits, religious background, social economic class, and age similarities. Truly the complexity of the date and mate selection process includes many obvious and some more subtle processes that you can understand for yourself.

If you are single you can apply them to the date and mate selection processes you currently pursue. Bernard Murstein wrote articles in the early s where he tested his Stimulus-Value-Role Theory of marital choice.

To Murstein the exchange is mutual and dependent upon the subjective attractions and the subjective assets and liabilities each individual brings to the relationship. The Stimulus is the trait usually physical that draws your attention to the person. After time is spent together dating or hanging out, Values are compared for compatibility and evaluation of "maximization of Rewards while minimization of costs is calculated.

If after time and relational compatibility supports it, the pair may choose to take Roles which typically include: exclusive dating, cohabitation, engagement, or marriage. How do strangers transition from not even knowing one another to eventually cohabiting or marrying together? From the very first encounter, two strangers begin a process that either excludes one another as potential dates or mates or includes them and begins the process of establishing intimacy.

Intimacy is the mutual feeling of acceptance, trust, and connection to another person, even with the understanding of personal faults of the individual. In other words, intimacy is the ability to become close to one another, to accept one another as is, and eventually to feel accepted by the other.

Intimacy is not sexual intercourse, although sexual intercourse may be one of many expressions of intimacy. When two strangers meet they have a stimulus that alerts one or both to take notice of the other.

I read a book by Judith Wallerstein see Wallerstein and Blakesley The Good Marriage where one woman was on a date with a guy and overheard another man laughing like Santa Clause might laugh. She asked her date to introduce her and that began the relationship which would become her decades-long marriage to the Santa Clause laughing guy.

In the stimulus stage some motivation at the physical, social, emotional, intellectual or spiritual level sparks interests and the interaction begins.

Over time and with increased interaction, two people may make that journey of values comparisons and contrasts which inevitably includes or excludes the other.

Men and Women Use Different Criteria for Partner Selection

Even though Figure 2 shows that a smooth line of increasing intimacy can occur, it does not always occur so smoothly nor so predictably. As the couple reaches a place where a bond has developed they establish patterns of commitment and loyalty which initiates the roles listed in Figure 2.

The list of roles is listed in increasing order of level of commitment yet does not indicate any kind of predictable stages the couple would be expected to pursue. In other words, some couples may take the relationship only as far as exclusive dating which is the mutual agreement to exclude others from dating either individual in the relationship. Another couple may eventually cohabit or marry. Dates are temporary adventures where good looks, fun personality, entertainment capacity, and even your social status by being seen in public with him or her are considered important.

Dates are short-term and can be singular events or a few events. Many college students who have dated more than once develop "A Thing" or a relationship noticed by the individuals and their friends as either beginning or having at least started, but not quite having a defined destination.

These couples eventually hold a DTR.

5 Ways to Choose the Right Partner for You

Ever had one of these? In the current study, we examine whether romantic partner characteristics are predictive of similar changes in adolescents' psychosocial functioning. Such direct evidence of romantic partner socialization is currently absent from the literature. These findings, coupled with the time and emotion adolescents invest in romantic relationships, suggest that partners could be important socializing agents.

Researchers typically estimate peer socialization by assessing whether peers' functioning at one time significantly predicts youths' functioning at a later time. The current study employed a similar design. We assessed whether partners' psychosocial functioning prior to the relationship predicted change in adolescents' psychosocial functioning after the two began dating. Changes in adolescents' psychosocial functioning predicted by partners' pre-relationship functioning are interpreted as evidence of peer socialization.

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We expected that some partner characteristics would be important to selection or socialization, while others would be important to both. As noted earlier, appearance and popularity should each be important to partner selection.

Yet only partners' popularity was expected to exert a significant socialization effect when predicting adolescents' functioning over time. Prior findings of significant peer socialization when predicting adolescents' depressive symptoms, peer aggression, and peer victimization suggested that romantic partners' functioning in these areas could also be important predictors.

Furthermore, we expected that some partner characteristics would predict adolescents' subsequent functioning even in the absence of initial partner similarity. In the majority of homophily studies, peer socialization is examined in an additive model where peer characteristics are tested as main effects under the assumption that all peers influence all adolescents in a roughly equivalent manner.

More recently, Hartuphas argued that peer socialization is best conceived as an interaction between characteristics of the socializing agent and the socialized individual. In other words, some partners could be more influential than others, and some adolescents could be more open to influence than others. Relatively few studies have examined peer influence from this perspective; however, those that have suggest that healthy and negative peer influences are contingent on both partners' initial level of functioning e.

Similarly, we hypothesized that high and low functioning romantic partners might predict different patterns of change for high and low functioning adolescents. For example, dating a partner with few psychosocial problems i.

In support of this idea, having a friend who is low on aggression predicts decreases in adolescents' aggression over time, but only for adolescents who are initially more aggressive Adams et al. In the current study, we expected that adolescents with more pre-relationship problems i. Adolescents with few pre-relationship problems who paired with similarly high functioning partners were not expected to change.

In contrast, the characteristics of low functioning partners i. High functioning adolescents, who have few psychosocial problems, could be resistant to the problems of their low functioning partners Adams et al. In either case, we expected to see little change among adolescents dating low functioning partners. Although romantic partners are presumed to affect adolescents' development, we know little about how adolescents select romantic partners or the consequences of their choices.

Likewise, the evolutionary approach predicts that the biological and anatomical differences between men and women will result in different preferences for partner selection. Jun 09,   Scholars have long been interested in exchange and matching (assortative mating) in romantic partner selection. But many analyses of exchange, particularly those that examine beauty and socioeconomic status, fail to control for partners' tendency to Cited by: 1. Introduction. Much psychological research on dating and marital relationships has been centered on two fundamental issues: (1) partner selection-that is, why do two individuals choose to be in a relationship with each other rather than with one of many other potential partners, and (2) relationship outcomes-that is, what predicts relationship satisfaction or other outcomes?Cited by:

This could be partly due to methodological challenges, as isolating selection from socialization effects to predict change as a function of partner characteristics requires longitudinal designs that can identify individuals' future romantic partners. In the current study, we identified adolescent couples within a longitudinal school-based sample.

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Using a follow-back design, we traced adolescents and romantic partners to a prior data collection to examine pre-relationship similarities. This allowed for a relatively pure estimation of selection effects, as neither adolescents nor partners identified themselves as being romantically involved at that time. Pre-relationship characteristics of romantic partners were then used to estimate the socialization effects of romantic partner characteristics in predicting changes in adolescents' psychosocial functioning over the time prior to Time 1 and after relationships were established Time 2.

Young adolescents' friend and romantic relationships are frequently developed at school, and our school-based design allowed us to examine emerging romantic relationships in their broader social context. Although the data points are necessarily anchored around the initiation of romantic relationships, estimates of friendship similarity prior to the initiation of romantic relationships provide important information about the role of friends in romantic partner selection and socialization.

Comparing the characteristics of adolescents' extant friends to those of prospective romantic partners as well as comparing the degree of similarity within friend and romantic dyads would offer new data on the relative importance of general and relationship-specific peer selection criteria in early adolescence. The inclusion of best friends also permitted us to examine romantic partner socialization while accounting for co-occurring socialization by best friends.

We expected to find similarity but not redundancy across the two relationships. All sixth through eighth grade students were invited to participate in the first phase of data collection for the larger study Time 1. No significant difference was found between adolescents who participated in two versus one time points. On average, these romantic relationships lasted Because romantic partner and best friend data were needed to examine selection and socialization effects, only those adolescents whose best friend and romantic partner were also participants in the study were included in our sample.

To avoid dependency in the data, one member of any reciprocally nominated romantic dyad was randomly dropped from the sample. This resulted in a data set in which each adolescent served as only a target participant or as a romantic partner. Similarly, no adolescent appeared as both a friend and a romantic partner in the data set. We did not drop any target adolescent who was named as another target adolescent's best friend because friendships were not the focus of the study and doing so could have resulted in a biased sample of adolescents whose best friends were not dating.

The 78 target participants were compared to 62 participants who reported a romantic relationship at Time 2 but who did not meet other study criteria i. No significant group differences emerged for gender, grade, or any Time 1 primary study variables.

Similar analyses were conducted to compare adolescents in the larger sample who were and were not dating. A letter introducing the study was mailed to the homes of all potential participants, and a consent form was sent home with each student. Parents were asked to either grant or deny their consent for their child's participation, and adolescents were asked to return the consent form regardless of their parent's decision.

At both time points, questionnaires were administered to adolescents in their classrooms over two days. Each participant received a small token of appreciation e. Sociometric peer nominations were used to obtain measures of adolescents' peer perceived popularity at both time points.

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Students at this school were organized into teams about twice the size of traditional academic classrooms. The order of names was counterbalanced on these rosters e. Z through A to control for possible effects of alphabetization on nominee selection. The peer nomination procedure described above also was used at both time points to obtain peer ratings of physical attractiveness and body appeal.

The CDI contains 27 items that assesses affective, cognitive, motivational, and somatic symptoms of depression. For each item, youth choose one of three statements, scored 0 through 2, that best describe their level of depressive symptoms over the prior two weeks.

Mean scores were computed for each student, with higher scores reflecting greater levels of depressive symptoms. In the current sample, Cronbach's alpha was. The number of nominations received by each participant for each item was summed and standardized relative to their teammates. Prior to data analysis, scores for self-reported depressive symptoms were standardized to be consistent with sociometric measures and allow for meaningful comparisons across domains of functioning.

Means and standard deviations for all measures are presented in Table 1 for target adolescents, romantic partners, and best friends. No significant mean differences were found between target adolescents', romantic partners', and best friends' corresponding values across any of these domains.

Our first goal was to estimate romantic partner selection effects by examining pre-relationship similarities in developmentally salient domains. Intraclass correlations between adolescents' and romantic partners' scores on each Time 1 variable indicated significant pre-relationship similarities in four domains: popularity, body appeal, physical attractiveness, and self-rated depressive symptoms see Table 2. To test the hypothesis that similarity would be greater for more observable characteristics, Fisher r to Z tests were calculated to compare the magnitude of similarity correlations across domains Cohen, In addition, the similarity correlation for each of the four significant domains was significantly larger than each similarity correlation where no significant correlation was found i.

Parallels between adolescents' friend and romantic relationships had led us to hypothesize that these two relationship partners would share similar characteristics.

The intraclass correlations between adolescents and their best friends on Time 1 variables paralleled those reported above for adolescents and prospective romantic partners, with the notable exception of body appeal see Table 2. Specifically, adolescents were similar to both their best friend and romantic partner on popularity, attractiveness, and self rated depressive symptoms.

In addition, adolescents and best friends were significantly alike on Time 1 relational aggression. No significant differences in adolescents' similarity to romantic partners versus best friends were found for any of the other Time 1 variables. To further explore links between adolescents' friends and romantic partners, we computed Pearson correlations between the Time 1 characteristics of the two relationship partners see Table 2.

Adolescents' extant best friends and prospective romantic partners were significantly similar in their popularity, body appeal, attractiveness, and self rated depressive symptoms at Time 1. The second goal of this study was to estimate romantic partner socialization effects by testing whether partners' pre-relationship characteristics predicted change in adolescents' functioning over time. We predicted that romantic partner characteristics would significantly predict adolescents' functioning at Time 2, even after accounting for co-occurring socialization by best friends.

However, we expected that the strength and direction of the effects would vary according to both partners' and adolescents' pre-relationship functioning. Prior to the analyses, all predictors were centered to reduce multicollinearity Aiken and West, For each Time 2 outcome, adolescents' corresponding Time 1 scores were entered in step 1 to assess stability over time. Best friends' Time 1 scores were entered in the second step to control for cooccurring socialization by friends.

Romantic partners' Time 1 scores were entered in a third step to assess the main effect of romantic partner characteristics. The product term of adolescents' and romantic partners' Time 1 scores was entered in the final step to assess whether adolescents' and romantic partner's Time 1 functioning interacted to predict adolescents' Time 2 functioning.

Significant interactions were probed twice, once with romantic partners' pre-relationship functioning as the moderator and a second time with adolescents' pre-relationship functioning as the moderator.

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This strategy allowed us to determine how change in adolescents' functioning over time varied according to partners' pre-relationship functioning and by adolescents' pre-relationship functioning. The two are related, though not identical ways of decomposing and understanding the observed moderator effects. Examining the moderating effects of romantic partner characteristics identifies whether change in adolescents' psychosocial functioning is greater when partners are high versus low functioning.

Specifically, post-hoc analyses assess the association between adolescents' functioning at Time 1 and Time 2 i. Thus, change i. Examining the moderating effects of adolescents' pre-relationship characteristic s identifies whether romantic partner characteristics predict different amounts or types of change for high versus low functioning adolescents.

Specifically, the post-hoc analyses assess the association between partners' functioning at Time 1 and adolescents' functioning at Time 2 when adolescents were initially high versus low functioning. For these analyses, significant effects as a function of adolescents' initial functioning are indicated by a significant slope. Controlling for co-occurring socialization by adolescents' best friends in step 2 of the analyses provided a conservative test of romantic partner socialization.

To the extent that friend and partner effects are confounded, this strategy could underestimate romantic partner socialization.

To examine this possibility, we re- ran the regressions described above without controlling for best friend characteristics i. No additional significant direct effects emerged for romantic partners' Time 1 characteristics. The similarity of results across the two sets of analyses suggested that romantic partner predictors were not redundant with friend predictors. Therefore, the results presented below are those from the analyses that include best friend values as a covariate in Step 2.

Romanic partners' Time 1 popularity was not directly associated with adolescents' Time 2 popularity. However, as hypothesized, the interaction between adolescents' and partners' Time 1 popularity was a significant predictor see Table 3. Results from post hoc probing of the moderating effects of romantic partners' popularity are plotted in Figure 1where the lines depict the association between adolescents' popularity at Time 1 and Time 2 when partners' Time 1 popularity was high versus low.

However, the beta coefficient was smaller for adolescents who dated high popular partners, suggesting that these adolescents experienced more change in popularity than those who dated low popular partners.

Results from post hoc probing of the moderating effects of adolescents' pre-relationship popularity are plotted in Figure 2where the lines depict the association between partners' popularity at Time 1 and adolescents' popularity at Time 2 when adolescents' Time 1 popularity was high versus low. Among adolescents who were initially low in popularity, those who dated a high popular partner were more popular at Time 2 than those who dated a low popular partner. Considered together, these two sets of post hoc analyses facilitate a better understanding of how the combination of adolescents' and partners' initial popularity predict change in adolescents' popularity over time.

Figure 3 illustrates these patterns of change for low and high popular adolescents when they dated low versus high popular partners. Already high popular adolescents remained fairly stable over time, regardless of their partners' popularity. In contrast, low popular adolescents changed, but this was limited to those who dated high popular partners.

Low popular adolescents who dated a high popular partner became more popular while low popular adolescents who dated a low popular partner did not change. Consistent with our hypotheses, romantic partners' physical appearance i. Romanic partners' peer-rated sadness at Time 1 was not directly associated with adolescents' Time 2 peer-rated sadness.

As hypothesized, however, the interaction between adolescents' and partners' Time 1 sadness was a significant predictor see Table 4. Figure 4 plots the association between adolescents' Time 1 and Time 2 sadness when romantic partners' Time 1 sadness was high versus low.

These findings suggest that adolescents who dated partners who were initially low on sadness changed more than those who dated partners who were initially high on sadness.

Here the association between partners' sadness at Time 1 and adolescents' sadness at Time 2 is plotted when adolescents' initial sadness was high versus low. Among adolescents who were initially high on sadness, those who dated a partner low on sadness were less sad at Time 2 than those who dated a partner high on sadness.

Considered together, the two sets of post hoc analyses facilitate a better understanding of how the combination of adolescents' and partners' initial sadness predict change in adolescents' sadness over time. Figure 6 illustrates these patterns of change for low and high functioning adolescents when they dated low versus high functioning partners. It is also illustrative of the results for depressive symptoms, relational aggression, and relational victimization.

High functioning adolescents i. In contrast, low functioning adolescents changed over time, but only when they dated a high functioning partner.

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Low functioning adolescents i. For the regression predicting adolescents' self-reported depressive symptoms at Time 2, the interaction between adolescents' and partners' Time 1 depressive symptoms was again a significant predictor see Table 4.

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The main effect for partners' Time 1 depressive symptoms was not significant. Results from post hoc probing of the moderating effects of romantic partners are similar to those for peer-rated sadness. These findings suggest that adolescents who dated partners who were low on depressive symptoms changed more than those who dated partners who were high on symptoms.

Results from post hoc probing of the moderating effects of adolescents' initial symptom levels were similar to those for peer-rated sadness. Among adolescents who were initially high on depressive symptoms, those who dated a low symptom partner reported fewer depressive symptoms at Time 2 than those who dated a high symptom partner.

Romanic partners' relational aggression at Time 1 was not directly associated with adolescents' Time 2 relational aggression. However, the interaction between adolescents' and partners' Time 1 relational aggression was a significant predictor see Table 4. Results from the post hoc probing of the moderating effects of romantic partners ' Time 1 relational aggression were similar to those found for self and peer-rated depressive symptoms.

These findings suggest that adolescents who dated partners who were initially low on relational aggression change more than those who dated partners who were initially high on relational aggression. Results from post hoc probing of the moderating effects of adolescents' Time 1 relational aggression were similar to those reported for self and peer-rated depressive symptoms. Among adolescents who were initially high on relational aggression, those who dated a low aggressive partner were less aggressive at Time 2 than those who dated a high aggressive partner.

Neither romantic partners' physical aggression at Time 1 nor the interaction between romantic partner and adolescents' physical aggression was associated with participants' Time 2 physical aggression see Table 4. Although romantic partners' relational victimization at Time 1 was not directly associated with adolescents' Time 2 relational victimizationthe interaction between adolescents' and partners' Time 1 relational victimization was a significant predictor see Table 4. These findings suggest that adolescents who dated partners who were initially low on relational victimization changed more than those who dated partners who were initially high on relational victimization.

Among adolescents who were initially high on relational victimization, those who dated a partner low on victimization were less victimized at Time 2 than those who dated a partner high on victimization. As with physical aggression, neither romantic partners' physical victimization at Time 1 nor the interaction between romantic partner and adolescents' physical victimization was associated with participants' Time 2 physical victimization after controlling for target participants' and best friends' Time 1 levels of victimization see Table 4.

This study is among the first to demonstrate the significance of partner selection and socialization processes in adolescents' romantic relationships. Using a longitudinal design, pre-relationship similarities between young adolescent dating partners were isolated to examine patterns of partner selection.

Romantic Partner Selection. Studies of interpersonal attraction and adult romantic homophily have consistently identified status dimensions as important to partner selection (McPherson et al., ; Regan & Joshi, ).Status dimensions include sociodemographic factors (e.g., age, ethnicity) as well as ascribed characteristics, such as social standing or physical attractiveness. About the Author: Suzanne Muller-Heinz. Suzanne Muller-Heinz is a global Dating & Love Life Coach with a special talent for helping smart singles figure out the formula to having a tender, thoughtful and healthy relationship. She is the author of Loveable: 21 Practices For Being In A Loving & Fulfilling Relationship and one of the co-authors of the international bestselling book, . Enjoy dating and mate selection. It is a wonderful time of your life that can be the best and simultaneously the worst of times. It may help for you to understand a bit more about yourself so that you can develop a strategy in being proactive and .

Next, we assessed romantic partner socialization by predicting changes in adolescents' psychosocial functioning over time as a function of partners' pre-relationship characteristics. The findings suggest that romantic selection and socialization processes are operating even as youth are just beginning to participate in romantic activities, develop cross-sex interaction skills, and construct their identities as romantic partners Brown, ; Connolly et al.

Pre-relationship similarities detected across both peer and self-report provide compelling evidence of young adolescents' attraction to partners who share comparable levels of social standing, appearance, and depressive symptoms.

These results extend prior experimental findings that similarity is predictive of interpersonal attraction Byrne, Similarities on peer-rated attractiveness and body appeal suggest that prior reports of similarity in partners' self-rated appearance reflect more than correspondence in self-perceptions e.

Likewise, similarities in self-rated depressive features suggest that young romantic partners view themselves as comparably depressed. Adolescents also paired with partners who shared similar levels of depressive features. The current study extends these findings to early romantic development. Additional work is needed to pinpoint the basis of similarity. Given the parallels between young adolescents' friend and romantic relationships and the nesting of both relationships within peer groups, pre-relationship similarities in depressive features could reflect peer group as well as dyadic influences.

We had expected both depressive and aggressive features would be differentially attractive to youth and result in pre-relationship similarities on both characteristics.

However, we found no evidence that either physical or relational aggression led to assortative pairing.

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One explanation for these results is that aggression may have broad-based rather than differential appeal. Perhaps this also includes romantic attraction, in which case the general attractiveness of aggression would make selective pairing less likely to occur. That friend dyads in this study were similar on relational but not physical aggression supports this idea. Sample limitations precluded testing for gender-specific selection criteria, but their presence could have attenuated any selection effects for aggression.

Overall, the pattern of findings on partner selection suggests that similarity is important to young adolescents' romantic pairing, but only for certain characteristics, and that the pattern of attraction is similar to but not identical to that among friends. The developmental course of these selection criteria within and across relationships warrants additional attention. Patterns of romantic selection could vary according to developmental shifts in social and personal needs Bukowski et al.

Some features, such as physical attractiveness, could remain important whereas others, such as intimacy and conflict skills, could gain significance. As the nature of adolescents' relationships change, the allure of some partner characteristics could wane in favor of others that better serve their needs. Romantic partners' pre-relationship characteristics predicted change in adolescents' functioning in various domains, including peer popularity, depression, relational aggression, and relational victimization.

Of these, only popularity and depressive symptoms were important to partner selection. This pattern of findings suggests that partners need not be similar to adolescents in order to be influential.

Overall, the results from analyses examining romantic partner socialization add to the literature on peer influence in two important ways. First, they provide evidence for the significance of both friends and romantic partners to adolescent adjustment.

Today, dating is more casual than ever, taking on many forms (couple, group, online, etc.) In the United States there are millions of people between the ages of ( is considered prime dating and mate selection ages). Partner selection online dating - Is the number one destination for online dating with more marriages than any other dating or personals site. Find a man in my area! Free to join to find a man and meet a man online who is single and looking for you. If you are a middle-aged woman looking to have a good time dating man half your age, this advertisement is for you. Aug 08,   A new study suggests individuals choose a partner based upon their perception of a potential mate's attributes and upside or downside potential. Researchers determined men and women often use a.

Although best friendships were already formed at the time of our initial assessment, friend characteristics remained important predictors of adolescents' physical attractiveness, depressive symptoms, relational aggression, and relational victimization.

Yet even with a conservative data analytic strategy that controlled for co-occurring best friend socialization, romantic partner characteristics emerged as significant predictors of changes in adolescents' psychosocial functioning. These findings lend credible support to theoretical assertions that romantic partners are unique and significant socializing agents Collins, Second, our results suggest that whether and how romantic partners affect adolescent functioning depends on characteristics of both adolescents and their partners.

No partner characteristics were directly predictive of adolescents' functioning over time.

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This could partly reflect the stability of the characteristics assessed in this study. The small amounts of observed change in adolescents' functioning could have made it difficulty to detect any direct effects of romantic partner characteristics. Perhaps other behaviors, such as drug and alcohol use, are more variable and open to socialization. Nonetheless, even when health risk is the focal behavior, estimates of additive peer socialization typically range from nonsignificant to modest.

Recent research on deviant peer influence suggests that these main effect models are overly simplistic, as youth vary in both their power to influence and their susceptibility to be influenced e.

The current findings are consistent with this tenet. Across multiple outcomes, adolescents who dated high functioning romantic partners tended to change more than those who dated low functioning partners, and partner characteristics were more predictive of change for low versus high functioning adolescents.

Detecting these patterns required separate analyses of the moderating effects of adolescents and partners pre-relationships functioning. Putting the two sets of analyses together illustrated a consistent pattern in which low functioning adolescents appeared to benefit from dating high functioning partners.

Low popular adolescents who dated a high popular partner gained more popularity over time than the other three groups of adolescents. This particular finding is consistent with prior assertions that early romantic relationships serve to establish adolescents' status and popularity in the peer group Brown, Interestingly, already popular adolescents did not seem to suffer much for dating lower popular partners, suggesting that high popular partners could be particularly important to status grading, at least among young adolescents.

Only adolescents who dated high functioning partners showed significant change over time, and romantic partner characteristics only predicted change for low functioning adolescents. When predicting depression, sadness, relational aggression, or relational victimization, adolescents who coupled with partners who had fewer problems showed more positive changes in these areas than those who coupled with partners with more problems. Among adolescents who dated high functioning partners, those who initially had more problems were indistinguishable at Time 2 from those who initially had few problems.

These findings raise the interesting possibility that high functioning partners could help mitigate the symptoms of more poorly adjusted youth. In general, however, findings indicative of buffering effects are rare in the peer literature and highlight the potential for healthy peer influence at an important juncture in psychosocial development.

Additional research is needed to explain how certain adolescents with psychosocial problems pair with and benefit from high functioning partners. Even within the group of characteristics for which assortative pairing is common, there could be individual differences in their relative importance, leading to less similarity on certain characteristics than others. Regardless of how mismatches occur, partner socialization could be stronger in areas that are salient to interpersonal functioning at a given age.

Specifying the underlying pathways and mechanisms of these processes over the course of romantic development is an important task for future studies. The significant stability found for adolescents who dated low functioning partners also merits further inquiry. Within this group, the reasons for stability could vary between those who were initially high and low functioning.

High functioning adolescents could be relatively unaffected by the problems of their low functioning partners Adams et al. Our findings are consistent with these interpretations but did not directly test them. Hence, additional research is needed to examine differential reasons for stability among youth who date low functioning partners. This study is among the first to offer evidence that romantic partner characteristics affect the psychosocial functioning of young adolescents. The potential for partner socialization across diverse domains of functioning at this age is striking given that early romantic relationships tend to be relatively short-lived and low in intimacy.

Longer-term studies with larger samples are needed to replicate the current findings, assess their duration, and examine potential carry over to subsequent romantic relationships.

This information is critical to understanding trajectories of romantic development and their interface with psychosocial functioning. Assessing indices of positive adaptation e. Addressing these questions will require more detailed knowledge about the partner characteristics that are salient at different phases of romantic development.

As noted earlier, there are likely to be age-related shifts in the salience of selection criteria. Similarly, the relative strength of various partner characteristics is likely to change with romantic development. For example, as romantic relationships become more intimate, partners' ways of seeking and providing support or of managing disagreements could become more potent socializing characteristics.



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