Even though romantic partnerships are often understood as pairwise relationships, there is value in conceptualizing the dating patterns of adolescents as network phenomena, particularly as related to the spread of sexually transmitted infections. The current study adopts this perspective to evaluate how a local norm guiding the coexistence of dating and friendship informs macro-level romantic network structures. Using twelve months of romantic relationship data from the Peers and the Emergence of Adolescent Romance (PEAR) study, we find that the global dating network resembles a chain-like, spanning tree structure consistent with that observed by Bearman and colleagues (2004) in their foundational study. Then, through the application of temporal ERGMs, we uncover evidence that adolescents adhere to a social norm against dating their friends’ previous romantic partners. We use these findings to empirically ground a series of network simulations, which demonstrate that the romantic network's structure becomes less redundant and more clustered as the norm against dating friends’ previous partners is relaxed. By understanding how local norms shape patterns of friendship and dating, we can better conceptualize the macro-level structural patterns of romantic networks and their implications for infectious disease diffusion.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science
- General Social Sciences
- General Psychology