New Study Confirms Romantic Relationship Can Indeed Change You

Romantic Partner

When friends say that you have changed since you entered a new relationship, they are probably right. According to a new study, adolescents become less like their friends and more like their partners after they entered a romantic relationship.

Researchers at the Florida Atlantic University wanted to test the hypothesis that adolescents will become more like their new partner than their friends. The study is the first to utilize longitudinal data to prove alterations in the friend-likeness of participants who started a new relationship.

“The results confirm what most friends complain about – romantic partners are a distraction from friendships,” said one of the study authors, Professor Brett Laursen of the Department of Psychology at FAU. “Same-sex friends become less important and romantic affiliations become more important.”

The two-part study involved girls and boys aged 12 to 19 years old. They were asked about their friends, romantic partners and alcohol abuse. Single adolescents reported that their friends are among their most significant relationships. However, upon entering a new relationship, things changed.

Findings show differences emerge and friends no longer influence each other that much. For example, according to Laursen, friends no longer influence drinking habits, instead, the romantic partner may ‘dictate terms’.

In the first part of the five-year study, alcohol abuse levels of 1,236 participants were measured. They were also asked to nominate a list of friends and romantic partners. Single friends were similar in terms of alcohol use rates while those who are in a relationship were not parallel to each other.

 The second phase involved a subsample of 640 participants who had steady friendships for two years or more. These were groups of friends without romantic relationships in the beginning of the study. The researchers found that the similarities between friends and alcohol abuse dropped once one or more individuals in the group entered romantic relationships.

The findings, published online in the journal Developmental Psychology, show that teens who enter a romantic relationship do not increase alcohol abuse more than the level it was when they were more like their friends.

Thus, your friends were right, you were not the same person you were before you found a new relationship.