But He Loves Me: Teens’ Comments about Healthy and Unhealthy Romantic Relationships

Pooja Brar, Ashley A. Boat, Sonya S. Brady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Romantic relationships can positively affect adolescent development. However, adolescents may not always have a clear understanding of what healthy dating looks like, which may place some adolescents at risk for dating violence. The present study examined the following research questions: (1) What are adolescents’ perceptions of healthy and unhealthy attributes of romantic relationships? (2) How do adolescents perceive jealousy and potentially controlling behaviors? (3) What is the relationship between adolescents’ attitudes toward jealousy and controlling behaviors and their willingness to intervene in a peer’s unhealthy romantic relationship? The study included a predominantly female, ethnically diverse sample of 72 adolescents (M = 17.5 years) who participated in an internet-based health promotion intervention that allowed peers and health educators to interact. Adolescents commented on message boards and completed a survey. Findings showed that adolescents can articulate both healthy and unhealthy romantic relationship attributes. Some adolescents struggled to understand relationship attributes including jealousy and possessiveness, as these behaviors can be perceived as expressions of strong romantic interest. Adolescents may benefit from programs that strengthen healthy dating behaviors, teach youth to distinguish healthy from unhealthy behaviors, address conflict in respectful ways, and tactfully intervene when they witness abusive behaviors in the relationships of others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)632-665
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Adolescent Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, Division of AIDS (R34 MH086320 to S.S.B.) and a University of Minnesota Grant-in-Aid of Research, Artistry, and Scholarship to S.S.B.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • adolescents
  • dating violence
  • qualitative
  • romantic relationships

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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