African American Girls’ Ideal Dating Relationship Now and in the Future

Katrina J. Debnam, Donna E. Howard, Mary A. Garza, Kerry M. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Adolescence is a particularly important and challenging time for developing long-lasting romantic relationship patterns. However, limited empirical research has explored teen perceptions of ideal partner characteristics during adolescence or their significance to the quality of current and future relationships. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with 33 African American high school girls to shed light on the qualities desired in their dating relationships and relational factors that influence teen dating behaviors. Guided by the Social Ecological Framework, interviews were transcribed verbatim and entered into ATLAS.ti, for coding and analysis. Girls discussed the important influence of parents in choosing a partner and provided positive depictions of friendship and marriage with a suitable partner. More research is needed to understand how and why adolescents desire particular characteristics, how socialization shapes teen perceptions, and how these preferences may be related to current and future adolescent dating choices, including violence perpetration and victimization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-294
Number of pages24
JournalYouth and Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


  • African American
  • adolescent
  • dating relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)


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