Intimacy vs. Isolation (young adulthood)
Occurring in Young adulthood, we begin to share ourselves more intimately with others. We explore relationships leading toward longer term commitments with someone other than a family member. Successful completion can lead to comfortable relationships and a sense of commitment, safety, and care within a relationship. Avoiding intimacy, fearing commitment and relationships can lead to isolation, loneliness, and sometimes depression.
Ego Development Outcome: Intimacy and Solidarity vs. Isolation Basic Strengths: Affiliation and Love
In the initial stage of being an adult we seek one or more companions and love. As we try to find mutually satisfying relationships, primarily through marriage and friends, we generally also begin to start a family, though this age has been pushed back for many couples who today don't start their families until their late thirties. If negotiating this stage is successful, we can experience intimacy on a deep level. If we're not successful, isolation and distance from others may occur. And when we don't find it easy to create satisfying relationships, our world can begin to shrink as, in defense, we can feel superior to others. Our significant relationships are with marital partners and friends.
The second crisis, occurring between late adolescence and early adulthood, is called the crisis of intimacy versus isolation. This crisis represents the struggle to resolve the reciprocal nature of intimacy; i.e., to achieve a mutual balance between giving love and support, and receiving love and support. Thus, youth must determine how to develop and to maintain close friendships outside the family, as well as how to achieve reciprocity in romantic relationships. Erikson believed that when youth successfully navigate this crisis they emerge with the ability to form honest, reciprocal relationships with others and have the capacity to bond with others to achieve common goals (e.g., marriage). When youth fail to navigate this crisis successfully, they can become distant and self-contained; or conversely, they can become needy, dependent, and vulnerable. If youth do not resolve this crisis, their emotional development becomes stalled, and as a result, they will remain isolated and lonely without social supports. Identity Moratorium – the status in which the adolescent is currently in a crisis, exploring various commitments and is ready to make choices, but has not made a commitment to these choices yet.
The third identity status is called moratorium. This identity status represents high degree of exploration but a low degree of commitment. At this status, youth are in the midst of an identity "crisis" which has prompted them to explore and experiment with different values, beliefs, and goals. However, they have not made any final decisions about which beliefs and values are most important to them, and which principles should guide their lives. Thus, they are not yet committed to a particular identity. They are keeping their options open. For example, Tim, 14, may suddenly begin to argue with his parents about going to the Sunday worship service at the Methodist Christian Church, even though he has attended this service with his family since childhood. Instead, he likes to spend his timing reading about all the different world religions and plans to visit several mosques, temples, and churches around the area to see what their worship services are like. Or, he may question the logic of religion altogether, and he may even wonder whether God exists at all. It is clear that Tim is not quite certain what he believes yet, but he is actively exploring and considering what values, principles, and beliefs he wants to live by.
Identity Moratorium – adolescent has acquired vague or ill-formed ideological and occupational commitments; he/she is still undergoing the identity search (crisis). They are beginning to commit to an identity but are still...
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