Romantic Relationships and Adjustment in Early Adulthood: The Role of Cross-sex Experience in the Context of Social Norms and Support Dissertation

(2015). Romantic Relationships and Adjustment in Early Adulthood: The Role of Cross-sex Experience in the Context of Social Norms and Support . 10.25148/etd.FI15032111

thesis or dissertation chair


  • Tamir, Hod


  • Attachment and interpersonal theory suggest a sequential pattern of relationships beginning in the earliest stage of development and progressing to social and eventually romantic relationships. Theoretically, cross-sex experiences have an important role in the progression of interpersonal relationships. Despite the prevalence of these theories about the nature of romantic relationship development, the linkage of cross-sex experience (CSE) to romantic relationships has not been established. Indeed, it is an intuitive assumption, especially within Western society and these theories do not consider socio-cultural factors that may influence CSE and relationship satisfaction. This study addresses the varying contextual factors that may contribute to relationship satisfaction and adjustment, aside from CSE, and is divided into two parts. Study 1, addresses CSE, relationship satisfaction, and adjustment in a unique population, ultra-Orthodox Jews. Among this population, social or romantic CSE is limited and sexes are effectively segregated. Study 2, expanded the study to a larger sample of U.S. college students, to assess the linkage of CSE to romantic relationship satisfaction in a more typical Western population. It included social norm and support variables to address the contextual nature of relationship development and satisfaction. Results demonstrated clear differences in the relation between CSE and relationship satisfaction in the two samples. In the first sample CSE was unrelated to relationship satisfaction; nevertheless, relationship satisfaction was associated with adjustment as it is for more typical populations with greater CSE. These results suggested the importance of specifying how social norms and social support relate to CSE, relationship satisfaction and adjustment. The results from the second sample were consistent with the theoretical framework upon which the social/romantic literature is based. CSE was directly connected to relationship satisfaction. As anticipated, CSE, relationship satisfaction, and adjustment also varied as a function of social norms and support. These findings further validate the influence of socio-cultural factors on relationship satisfaction and adjustment. This study contributes to the romantic relationship literature and broadens our understanding of the complex nature of interpersonal and romantic relationships.

publication date

  • March 25, 2015


  • Cross-Sex Experience
  • Culture
  • Emerging Adults
  • Norms
  • Relationships
  • Support

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)