Intimacy, Linking, and Loving During Early Adulthood

Note from <Development Across A Life Span>, Chapter 14: Social and Personality Developmetn in Early Adulthood

  • The Social Clocks of Adulthood

The social clock means the psychological timepieces that records the major milestones in people’s life. For example, the typical man completed his education by his early 20s, started a career, and married at later mid-20s.

The social clock is determined by the culture, they actually reflect the expectation of the society in which we live. For example, the social clock in China are different from the social clock in the US. Each of us has a social clock that provides us with a sense of whether we have reached the major benchmarks of life early, late, or right on time in comparison to our peers.

  • Intimacy V.S. Isolation Stage

During the period of postadolescence into the early 30s, the young adults focus on developing close, intimate relationship with other. Erik Erikson regarded yound adulthood as the time of the intimacy-versus-isolation stage.

  • Falling in Love

How do we fall in love with each other? Stimulus-value-role theory believes there are patterns during the course people fall in love. In the first stage, the relationship are built on surface, physical characteristics such as the way a person look. On the value stage, the relationship is characterized by increasing similarity of values and beliefs. In the role stage, the relationship is built on specific roles played by the participants, say the coupled may define themselves as boyfriend-girlfriend.

  • Passionate and Companionate Love

Some psychologists suggest that our love relationships can fall into two different categories: passionate or companionate. Passionate(or romantic) love is a state of powerful absorption in someone. Companionate love is the strong affection that we have for those with whom our lives are deeply involved.

  • Labeling Theory

According to the labeling theory of passionate love, the individuals experience romantic love when two events occur together: intense physiological arousal and situational cues suggesting that the arousal is due to love. This explains why people may feel deepened love when when they experience continual rejection or hurt from their assumed lover: it suggests that such negative emotions can produce strong physiological arousal, and then interpreted as being caused by “love”.

  • Intimacy, Passion, and Commitment

Robert Sternberg suggests that love is made up of three components: intimacy, passionate, and decision/commitment. These components can be combined to form eight different types of love depending on which of the three components is either present or missing from a relationship. For example, a couple has been happily dating a few months, but have not made any plans for a future together is a romantic love, where intimacy and passion are presented but the commitment is in absent. For a long term relationship, it is not necessary that all three aspects have to be present.

Over the course of a relationship, the three aspects of love would vary in strength. The passion is strong on the early stage, however, gradual comes down in later stage. This means the type of love between a couple also changes along the course, say, from the romantic love to the companionate love, where the Pyhsical passion has taken a back seat.

  • Is Love the Only Factor?

Is love the only factor for marriage? The notion that couples need to be in love was not “invented” until the middle age. Is love the only thing that matters? Different culture would rate different factors, for example, in Chin men ranked good health most important and women rated emotional stability and maturity most critical.

There are two trends in the marriages: homogamy is the tendency to marry someone who is similar in age, race, education, religion and other basic demographic characteristics. Marriage gradient is the tendency for men to marry women who are slightly younger, smaller and lower in status, while women to marry men who are slightly older, larger and higher in status.

  • Attachment Style

Attachment refers to the positive emotional bond that develops between a child and a particular individual. Most infants fall into one of the three attachment categories: securely attached child, avoidant infants and ambivalent infants. It seemed clear that there are continuities between infants’ attachment styles and their behavior as adults. For example, people secure adults tend to provide more sensitive and supportive care, being responsive to their partner’s psychological needs.

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