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12-07-2021 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 9/2021 Open Access

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 9/2021

Social Withdrawal and Romantic Relationships: A Longitudinal Study in Early Adulthood

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 9/2021
Stefania A. Barzeva, Jennifer S. Richards, Wim H. J. Meeus, Albertine J. Oldehinkel
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The online version contains supplementary material available at https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10964-021-01469-1.
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.


Involvement in romantic relationships is a salient developmental task in late adolescence and early adulthood, and deviations from normative romantic development are linked to adverse outcomes. This study investigated to what extent social withdrawal contributed to deviations from normative romantic development, and vice versa, and the interplay between withdrawal and couples’ relationship perceptions. The sample included 1710 young adults (55–61% female) from the Tracking Adolescents’ Individual Lives Survey cohort and their romantic partners. Data were collected across 4 waves, covering romantic relationships from ages 17 to 29 years. The results showed that higher withdrawal predicted a higher likelihood of romantic non-involvement by adulthood, consistently being single at subsequent waves, and entering one’s first relationship when older. Withdrawal moderately decreased when youth entered their first relationship. Male’s withdrawal in particular affected romantic relationship qualities and dynamics. These results provide new insights into the developmental sequelae of withdrawn young adults’ romantic relationship development.

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