Abigail Peña

Date of Award


First Advisor

Anne O'Dwyer

Second Advisor

Eden-Renee Hayes

Third Advisor

Jenny Browdy


The study of romantic relationships in adolescents is relatively new in the study of relationships. The recognition of the longer adolescence Americans experience today—arguably a whole new life stage called “emerging adulthood”—is also a recent contribution to research on life stages. With the expectation that emerging adults in the West today will explore a variety of potential careers, hobbies and romance, and the changing labels of ‘casual’ versus ‘committed’ romantic relationships, there is need to understand romantic relationships from their beginning in adolescence and through this highly exploratory stage in life. This thesis explores what has changed about adolescents’ attitudes toward marriage in the United States, how adolescents develop close relationships, and what relationship factors may characterize emerging adulthood. The study will be composed of interview questions that ask young people about their romantic relationship history, their best friendships, and their expectations of marriage.

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