Early adolescent romantic partner status, peer standing, and problem behaviors
This study examined associations among early adolescent romantic relationships, peer standing, problem behaviors, and gender as a moderator of these associations, in a sample of 320 seventh-grade students. Popular and controversial status youth were more likely to have a romantic partner, whereas neglected status youth were less likely to have a romantic partner. Similarly, youth perceived as conventional and unconventional leaders were also more likely to have a romantic partner than were non-leaders. Youth who had a romantic partner drank more alcohol and were more aggressive than were youth who did not have a romantic partner. Among those youth who had romantic partners, those who reported having more deviance-prone partners were themselves more likely to use alcohol and to be more aggressive, and those who engaged in deviant behavior with their partners used more alcohol. However, these associations varied somewhat by gender. These findings underscore the salience of early romantic partner relationships in the adjustment of early adolescents.