The romantic experiences of adolescents with a visible difference: exploring concerns, protective factors and support needs

J Health Psychol. 2012 Oct;17(7):1053-64. doi: 10.1177/1359105311433909. Epub 2012 Jan 17.


Injuries or conditions that affect appearance can increase adolescents' risk of psychosocial and interpersonal difficulties and may also impact on romantic relationships - an important aspect of adolescent development. A mixed method online approach explored the romantic experiences of 40 adolescents with a variety of visible differences. Young people identified appearance-related romantic concerns that cause distress, and impede the development and enjoyment of romantic relations. In contrast, some shared positive experiences and evidence of attitudes and behaviours that appear to protect against these concerns. Adolescents requested online peer support specific to their appearance-related needs. These findings can inform intervention development.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Beauty*
  • Body Image / psychology*
  • Courtship / psychology*
  • Face / abnormalities
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Qualitative Research
  • Skin Diseases / psychology
  • Social Support*
  • Young Adult