Student Services Overview

DATE: Monday, November 25, 2013
TIME: 1:00 p.m
PLACE: Studio, Lambert Road campus
CANDIDATE: Christina M. Donaldson                                                                                                                                        DISSERTATION TITLE: "Adolescent Romantic Love: A Phenomenological Study of Middle Adolescent Girls’ Lived Experience of Romantic Love"
CHAIR: Dr. Gary Groth-Marnat
READER: Dr. Barbara Shore
EXTERNAL READER: Dr. Lela Williams

Donaldson, C. (2013). Adolescent Romantic Love: A Phenomenological Study of Middle Adolescent Girls’ Lived Experience of Romantic Love (Doctoral dissertation, Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2013)


Adolescent romantic love has been a popular theme in classic literature, poems, songs, movies, and plays, but scientific research on this topic only began a decade ago. Most studies have focused on adolescent sexuality but some research has also observed that the relational and developmental aspects of adolescent romantic relationships has played an important role in the formation of identity, autonomy, social competence, personal achievement, interpersonal relationships, and affective states. Despite this, few studies have explored how adolescents’ define, perceive, and experience the meaning of romantic love. In this phenomenological study, in-depth interviews were performed with eight middle adolescent females who had experienced romantic love within the past year. The results demonstrated that adolescent romantic love carries similar themes found in adult romantic love (e.g. intimacy, limerence, and infidelity), but also included themes that were specific to the adolescent developmental stage (i.e. idealization, realization, and individuation), and themes that were archetypal (i.e. personal development and externalized love). This study also explored the relationship between sex and romantic love, family influences on romantic relationship constructs, and the impact the media has on developing romantic motifs. As a result of experiencing romantic love, participants felt a personal transformation, admitted to experiencing a wider array of emotional experiences (both positive and negative), and recognized the difference between their idealized fantasies of romantic love from their actual experience of romantic love. Romantic relationships provided the participants with an opportunity to learn inter-personal relationships as well as explore their intra-psychic world.

Keywords: adolescent romantic love, romantic relationships, phenomenological


Please note: All oral defense attendees must shuttle from the Best Western Hotel in Carpinteria.