Friends First? The Peer Network Origins of Adolescent Dating

Derek A. Kreager, Lauren E. Molloy, James Moody, Mark E. Feinberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The proximity of dating partners in peer friendship networks has important implications for the diffusion of health-risk behaviors and adolescent social development. We derive two competing hypotheses for the friendship-romance association. The first predicts that daters are proximally positioned in friendship networks prior to dating and that opposite-gender friends are likely to transition to dating. The second predicts that dating typically crosses group boundaries and opposite-gender friends are unlikely to later date. We test these hypotheses with longitudinal friendship data for 626 ninth-grade PROSPER heterosexual dating couples. Results primarily support the second hypothesis: Romantic partners are unlikely to be friends in the previous year or share the same cohesive subgroup, and opposite-gender friends are unlikely to transition to dating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-269
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Research on Adolescence
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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