Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Coping with stress in different phases of romantic development

Nieder, T. & Seiffge-Krenke, I. (2001). Coping with stress in different phases of romantic development. Journal of Adolescence, 24, 297-311.

This study followed adolescents longitudinally between ages 14 and 17, annually measuring their quality of relationships, their stress levels, and their coping styles. The results taken together provide support for a developmental sequence in romantic development. The percent of participants in a relationship increased over this time period, and the durations of these relationships increased with time. With this came increases in depth -- intimacy, affection, and extent of sexual activity. Romantic stress was highest in earlier years stemming from diverse sources, later decreasing and stabilizing with age. And active coping with romantic stress was lowest initially and significantly increased at 15, remaining high. As romantic relationships develop, stress is more and more related to conflicts between the romantic partners; yet such conflicts are increasingly resolved by dyadic communication as a coping strategy. Surprisingly, the development of a more active coping style over time was not associated with the decrease in amount of romantic stress. Instead, intimacy and affection is consistently associated with reduced stress, suggesting that as the relationship matures over time romantic stress decreases.

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