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Teenage Boys More Vulnerable And Emotionally Engaged In Romantic Relationships

stitute of Child Health and Human Development, has sought to change that. Considering that about 80 percent of teenagers have had a romantic relationship by age 18, what it means to them should be of interest, Giordano said.

For the study, 1,316 junior high and high school students from seven Lucas County, Ohio, school districts were interviewed, primarily in their homes. The students recorded their responses on laptop computers. In-depth ‘relationship history’ narratives were also elicited from 100 of the teens (51 girls and 49 boys).

Giordano said that in general, the boys revealed a self-portrait far removed from the confident, dominant image seen in the existing research literature. They reported significantly lower levels of confidence, as well as greater ‘communication awkwardness,’ in their romantic relationships.

Girls may be better prepared for those relationships because of more experience with intimate communication with friends. However, boys as well as girls reported feelings of heightened emotions toward their current or most recent romantic partner--contrary to the notion that boys are only looking to ‘score’ and are not emotionally invested in the relationship.

Boys in the Toledo sample also perceived being influenced more by girls than vice versa and, while most participants from both sexes indicated they shared equal decision-making power in their relationships, the tilt was toward the girls when power was thought to be unequal. These findings go against not only prior research but also against the common belief that men routinely exert more power and influence than women, the BGSU sociologists pointed out.

‘If, in marriages, men are more powerful, there must be some point where there's a switch,’ said Manning, a professor of sociology and director of the University's Center for Family and Demographic Research, with which Giordano and Longmore are also affiliated.

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