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Relationship Development

Relationship development that occurs during adolescence:

Changes in adolescent physical and cognitive development are also accompanied by major changes in an adolescent's relationships with others - including family members and friends. Family relationships are often reorganized with the onset of puberty, the desire for increased autonomy, and increased emotional distance between teens and their parents. Adolescent attention often shifts to a more intense focus on social interactions and friendships expanding from same sex friends to same sex groups of friends to heterosexual groups of friends. Sexual maturity marks the need to reorganize friendships again, to include an increased interest in opposite sex relationships and dating.

Developmental changes in relationship with self:

It is also during adolescence, with a focus on changing relationships with others, that a new understanding of one's self emerges. This may include changes in the following self-concepts:

Developmental changes in peer relationships:

The amount of time spent with friends increases during the course of adolescence. Most often, teenagers enjoy the time they spend with their friends more than other activities. They report feeling more understood and accepted by their friends. Less and less time is spent with parents and other family members.

Close friendships tend to develop between teens that are more similar in nature, interest, social class, and ethnic backgrounds, than younger age friendships. While childhood friends tend to be based on common activities, adolescent friendships expand to include similarities in attitudes, values, loyalty, and intimacy, as well as common activities. Teen friendships also tend to be more similar in level of involvement in academic and educational interest. Especially for girls, close, intimate, self-disclosing conversations with friends help to explore identities and define one's sense of self. Conversations within these important friendships also assist adolescents in exploring their sexuality and how they feel about it. The friendships of adolescent boys are less likely to be as intimate than those of girls. Boys are more prone to form an alliance with a group of friends who validate each other's worth through actions and deeds rather than interpersonal disclosure.

Developmental changes in male-female relationships:

The adolescent transition to male-female and sexual relationships is influenced by sexual interest and by social and cultural influences and expectations. Social and cultural expectations and behaviors in male-female or sexual relationships are learned from observations and practice. During adolescence, developmental tasks include struggles to gain control over sexual and aggressive urges, and discovering new and appealing potential or actual love relationships. Sexual behaviors during adolescents may include impulsive behavior, a wide range of experimental interactions of mutual exploring, and eventually intercourse. Biological differences, and differences in the socialization of males and females, set the stage for males and females to have different expectations of sexual and love relationships that may influence sexual experiences and may also have consequences for later sexual behavior and partnerships. Ultimately, achievement of a mutually satisfying sexual partnership within a love relationship may be established.

Developmental changes in family relationships:

One of the developmental tasks of adolescence is to achieve separation from one's family as one emerges into an independent young adult. A part of this process is coming to terms with specific feelings about one's family. During adolescence, teens begin to realize that their parents and significant authority figures do not know everything or have solutions to all types of struggles. Some teenage rebellion against parents is common and normal. With the onset of puberty, adolescent females tend to have more disagreements with their mothers. Adolescent males, especially those who mature early, also tend to have more disagreements with their mothers than with their fathers. While over time disagreements often decrease, adolescent relationships with mothers tend to change more than adolescent relationships with fathers. As adolescents become more independent from their parents, they are more likely to turn to their peers for advice.

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Online Resources of Adolescent Medicine

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