Teen Perspectives on Healthy Romantic Relationships: Results from Focus Groups

Lina Guzman, Child Trends
Jennifer Manlove, Child Trends
Erum N. Ikramullah, Child Trends

This paper presents findings from focus groups with males and females aged 12-17 in Washington, DC, in which teens describe characteristics of healthy teen romantic relationships. We have identified four themes: (1) Teens have a rich and wide-ranging vernacular to describe relationships and their various stages; (2) Teens define healthy romantic relationships in much the same way adults and researchers do, and have fairly high expectations for their partners and relationships; (3) While teens have high expectations for relationships, they have low hopes and are not optimistic of finding such qualities in a partner (Girls stated that cheating or unfaithfulness and verbal or physical violence were typical in teen relationships.); and (4) Teens identified dimensions of healthy relationships that closely mirrored research on relationships among adults. Within each theme, we identified differences by age and gender.

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Presented in Session 1: Adolescent Romantic and Sexual Relationships