Making Movies Instead of Taking Snapshots: Studying Change in Youth's Romantic Relationships

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College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology


Romantic relationships, Romantic experiences, Dating


Change is a ubiquitous aspect of adolescents' and young adults' romantic relationships, yet most research has not fully captured such change. Many studies examine romantic relationships at only one or two points in time. In this article, we illustrate the importance and benefits of examining change in adolescents' and young adults' romantic relationships using more than two time points. We discuss four kinds of changes: changes with age, within‐relationship changes, within‐person changes, and changes after specific events occur. We use examples from our research to illustrate various understudied types of change. We discuss how the analysis of many types of change requires more than two data points. Multiple time points can also be used to assess both the short‐ and long‐term effects of romantic relationships and to examine changes in trajectories. Such research can move us beyond static snapshots of romantic relationships to an understanding of their dynamic, changing nature.

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