Adolescent Delinquency and Family Conflict as Precursors of Romantic Relationships in Early Adulthood

Veroni I. Eichelsheim*, Arjan Blokland, Wim H.J. Meeus, Susan J.T. Branje

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Relationship engagement is an important life-course transition that may affect criminal development. Yet, little is known about how criminal behavior may in turn affect life-course transitions. Using six waves of data on adolescents, their parents and a sibling from the RADAR-Y (Research on Adolescent Development and Relationships, younger cohort) study, we investigate how patterns of adolescent delinquency and family conflict are related to characteristics of early adulthood romantic relationship engagement by means of a multiple-group trajectory model approach. We find that family conflict seems to foreshadow strained romantic relationships in the early adult years. Adolescent delinquency—and not family conflict—is the stronger predictor of partnering an antisocial spouse. Thus, persistence in antisocial behavior in adulthood may be contributed to both the nature of adolescent family relations and the extent of adolescent delinquency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1371-1401
Number of pages31
JournalCrime and Delinquency
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • adolescence
  • criminal behavior
  • early adulthood
  • family conflict
  • romantic relationships


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