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Tumultuous teen relationships

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Boys and girls do not treat their relationships equally. It has been thought that girls handled their friendships better than boys, but maybe not so much. New research from Duke University points to a retaliatory instinct in girls that undermines their friendships. When violations of the friendship occur, girls struggle.

Girls in the study reported that they would seek revenge against an offending girlfriend, verbally attack her and threaten to end the friendship for some perceived betrayal. Girls also reported they were more bothered by these betrayals. They felt more anger and sadness and were more likely to think the offense meant their friend didn’t care about them or cared too much by trying to control them.

“Previous research suggests that girls may hold their friends to a higher standard than boys do, which led us to think that girls might have an especially hard time coping if one of their friend does something to disappoint them,” said Julie Paquette MacEvoy, a former Duke Doctoral student who’s now an assistant professor at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education.

Other studies have shown that girls are more emotionally committed to their friendships, which might lead one to believe they wouldn’t have petty problems with perceived grievances, but the opposite is true. Because of their emotional commitment they have a very difficult time with confrontation and betrayal.

“Our finding that girls would be just as vengeful and aggressive toward their friends as the boys is particularly interesting because past research has consistently shown boys to react more negatively following minor conflicts with friends, such as an argument about which game to play next,” Steven Asher, a professor in Duke’s Department of Psychology & Neuroscience stated . “It appears that friendship transgressions and conflicts of interest may push different buttons for boys and girls.”

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Duke University

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