Search icon

Big Kids

10th May 2020

Teenagers who form close friendships tend to have better relationships later in life

Trine Jensen-Burke

teenager friendship

There is no denying that having good friends is important.

Good friends are our safety nets, our support systems, our cheerleaders, our navigation system – and often become such a big part of our lives that they are practically family.

But did you know you childhood and teenage friendships actually serves another purpose?

So if you are worried about your teens or tweens spending too much time with their friends right now – know this: This might just matter in the future, when they meet partners and get married.

According to new research, there is a strong correlation between teen friendships and healthy romantic relationships later on in life.

The study, published in Child Development, a journal of the Society for Research in Child Development followed a diverse group of 165 teenagers from the age of 13 until they were 30, contacting them once a year. During their yearly check-in, they would be asked about their friendships and relationships, and their close friends were also asked about their progress. Additionally, they were asked about their romantic relationships.

Unsurprisingly, maybe, what they found, was  that those teens who had healthy relationships with peers of their own gender were also more likely to be satisfied with their romantic relationships by the time they were 27 to 30.

This is what professor of psychology at the University of Virginia and the lead author of the study, Joseph P. Allen, had to say:

“In spite of the emphasis teens put on adolescent romantic relationships, they turn out not to be the most important predictor of future romantic success,” Allen said.

“Instead, it’s the skills learned in friendships with peers of the same gender — skills such as stability, assertiveness, intimacy, and social competence — that correspond most closely to the skills needed for success in adult romantic relationships.”

Further, the study also found that there were specific key social development tasks by age, that predicted the success of their future love life. At age 13, their ability to establish positive expectations of relationships with their peers and to be appropriately assertive with peers were the best predictors of future romantic satisfaction. At ages 15 and 16, social competence, their ability to establish close friendships and to manage a broad array of relationships with peers, was the best predictor. And from ages 16 to 18, their ability to establish and maintain close, stable friendships was the best predictor of romantic satisfaction.

What does this mean for us? Nourish their friendships. Help them make good friends. Let your house be the open, warm and welcoming house, where the kids always feel the can bring their friends to. You might just end up thanking yourself for all this later.