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Treating Men in Search of Intimacy & Connection
Male intimacy continuing education MFT CEU

Section 21
Intimacy in Adolescent Friendships

Question 21 | Answer Booklet | Table of Contents | Couples
Social Worker CEU, Psychologist CE, Counselor CEU, MFT CEU

Previous research has examined gender and grade differences in the emotional closeness of adolescents' same- and cross-sex friendships. However, findings from these studies have been inconsistent because theyAdolescent Friendships Treating Men in Search of Intimacy social work continuing education have failed to differentiate between cross-sex friendships and romantic relationships and compare same- and cross-sex friendships. In an attempt to clarify previous findings, gender and grade differences in adolescent reports of emotional closeness within same- and cross-sex friendships were examined. Responses from two hundred seventy adolescents indicated gender differences in reports of time spent with their friends daily and levels of relationship closeness, cohesion, and commitment. Further, grade moderated relationship differences in reports of relationship cohesion and closeness. Differences in predictors of intimacy support previous studies that have found grade and gender differences in levels of intimacy in adolescents' same- and cross-sex friendships. Results also elaborate on previous research by indicating grade differences in adolescents' perceptions of cohesion and closeness in their same- and cross-sex friendships. Findings are discussed in terms of understanding differences in adolescent reports of intimacy within same- and cross-sex friendships.

From early to late adolescence, intimacy increases in importance within adolescent friendships (Berndt, 1982; Collins & Repinski, 1994; Hunter & Youniss, 1982; Rubin, Bukowski, & Parker, 1998; Shulman, Levy-Shift, Kedem, & Alon, 1997). According to Sullivan (1953), male and female adolescents develop friendships to meet their intimacy needs (e.g., mutual empathy, love, and security), and achieving intimacy within same- and cross-sex relationships outside of the family environment is an integral aspect of adolescent development. Research indicates that same- and cross-sex friendships become more intimate as adolescents age. Further, studies examining gender differences in adolescent reports of intimacy indicate that females ( 1) develop more intimate friendships, ( 2) stress the importance of maintaining intimacy, and ( 3) expect more intimacy in their friendships than do males (Clark & Ayers, 1993; Clark & Bittle, 1992; Foot, Chapman, & Smith, 1977). Despite these age and gender differences in adolescent reports of friendship intimacy, relatively few studies have compared grade and gender differences in intimacy in same- and cross-sex friendships.

Relationship Differences in Adolescent Reports of Intimacy
Adolescents spend more time with their same-sex friends than with cross-sex friends and prefer the company of same-sex friends to that of cross-sex friends during early and middle adolescence (Buhrmester & Furman, 1987; Larson & Richards, 1991; Richards, Crowe, Larson, & Swarr, 1998). Cross-sex friendships are not as supportive as same-sex friendships during adolescence (Furman & Buhrmester, 1992), and adolescents experience more positive emotions while they are with and are thinking about their same-sex friends (Buhrmester & Furman, 1987; Richards et al., 1998). Same-sex friendships are perceived as more intimate than cross-sex friendships during early adolescence because cross-sex friendships are not as developed as same-sex friendships (Buhrmester & Furman, 1987). However, intimacy with members of the opposite sex increases as cross-sex friendships become more important during late adolescence.

Grade and Gender Differences in Adolescent Reports of Intimacy
Same-sex friends. Research examining adolescent reports of intimacy with same-sex friends does not indicate differences across age (Sharabany, Gershoni, & Hoffman, 1981). Clark-Lempers, Lempers, and Ho (1991) note that early, middle, and late adolescents do not differ in their reports of intimacy with same-sex friends. However, according to Buhrmester and Furman (1987) and Lempers and Clark-Lempers (1992), females report more intimate same-sex friendships than do males and that the level of intimacy within adolescent males' friendships does not approach the level within females' friendships, although males report a desire for intimacy in their same-sex friendships.

Cross-sex friends. Grade differences in adolescent reports of intimacy indicate that cross-sex friends become more intimate with age (Buhrmester & Furman, 1987; Fischer, Munsch, & Greene, 1996). Research examining gender differences in intimacy indicates that cross-sex friendships are more important to female adolescents than to male adolescents (Blyth, Hill, & Thiel, 1982). Further, findings from Bukowski and Kramer (1986) and Sharabany et al. (1981) indicate that adolescent females experience higher levels of intimacy and emotional closeness in their cross-sex friendships than do adolescent males.
- Johnson, Durell; Gender, grade, and relationship differences in emotional closeness within adolescent friendships; Adolescence; Summer 2004; Vol. 39; Issue 154.

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Personal Reflection Exercise #7
The preceding section contained information about intimacy in adolescent friendships.  Write three case study examples regarding how you might use the content of this section of the Manual in your practice.  Affix extra paper for your Journaling entries to the end of this Manual.

QUESTION 21
According to Bukowski and Kramer, what do adolescent females experience higher levels of in their cross-sex friendships than do adolescent males? Record the letter of the correct answer the Answer Booklet.

 
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