Little is known about romantic involvement in middle childhood. Research involving late-childhood and adolescent youths indicates increasing romantic involvement with age. In the present sample (N = 1,510), though, middle-childhood youths were more likely than adolescents to report having a boyfriend or girlfriend. In addition, for a subset of the sample reporting romantic involvement with a classmate, the reciprocity of the relationships was examined. The high frequency of middle-childhood youths reporting romantic involvement may be explained in part by the relatively high frequency of nonreciprocal relationships among middle-childhood youths. Adjustment differences were also found between youths with reciprocal and nonreciprocal romantic relationships with classmates. Having a reciprocal romantic relationship was related to being well liked and perceived as “popular” by peers, whereas having a nonreciprocal romantic relationship was related to depression and anxiety. These findings speak to the importance of considering reciprocity in romantic relationships.
Carlson, Wendy and Rose, Amanda J.
"The Role of Reciprocity in Romantic Relationships in
Middle Childhood and Early Adolescence,"
Merrill-Palmer Quarterly: Vol. 53
, Article 6.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/mpq/vol53/iss2/6