Although sometimes viewed as trivial and overly dramatic, the dating experiences and romantic relationships of adolescents can greatly influence the success of their future relationships.Healthy romantic relationships during adolescence are related to committed, satisfying relationships in adulthood.This relationship is not surprising considering adolescents describe dating and spending time with romantic partners as a central focus in their lives.

Part 1 of this series describes dating patterns and the development of romantic interest from early to late adolescence.

In the early part of adolescence, youth begin to develop romantic interest in their peers.

Youth at times become preoccupied thinking and fantasizing about crushes.

Although interest in others as romantic partners is beginning to develop, the majority of early adolescents do not participate in formal dating.

Reasons for dating in middle adolescence may be fairly superficial, such as for fun/recreation or social status among their peers.

However, long-term, committed relationships among middle adolescents can begin to serve the functions of intimacy, companionship, and social support.

By the time youth reach their senior year in high school, 70% report engaging in at least one romantic relationship.

Instead, youth may begin to interact with potential dating partners through group dates.

In group dates, mixed gender groups will attend concerts, movies, or other events together.

This platform allows youth to explore emerging romantic feelings in a low-pressure environment.

During middle adolescence, youth begin to date more formally, and ‘couple up.’ Youth in this stage prefer to interact one-on-one rather than in a large, mixed gender group.