Emerging Adulthood : A Distinct Period Of A New Transitional Developmental Period

Emerging Adulthood : A Distinct Period Of A New Transitional Developmental Period

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Extensive demographic and cultural shifts have taken place over the past few decades that have made late adolescence and early twenties into a new transitional developmental period known as emerging adulthood for young individuals across industrialized societies. Arnett (2000) argues that emerging adulthood is a “distinct period of the life course” that is “characterized by change and exploration of possible life directions” (469). Additionally, a critical area of identity exploration during emerging adulthood is love and romantic relationships. Arnett contends that “demographic changes in the timing of marriage and parenthood in recent decades has led to prolonged periods of adolescence and delayed adulthood transitions” (470). By postponing adulthood, young people are given the chance to extensively explore their identities and experiment with their love life. Although the achievement of traditional benchmarks that indicate adulthood are being postponed by the modern youth, the pressure to achieve those benchmarks at some point during their late twenties is still present. These prevalent social pressures and expectations may explain why the quality of friendships and romantic relationships are impacted while individuals are moving towards adulthood. Thus, the pervasive social expectation to reach adulthood in the late twenties and complete subsequent adulthood tasks such as marriage, parenthood, and career development prompts young emerging adults to shift their attention away from friendships and to invest more time on romantic relationships.
Although intimate romantic relationships and friendships serve two different functions for emerging adults, both play significant roles in human development. Barry et al. (2009) surveye...

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...adults a period to explore their love life and romantic relationships. Nevertheless, emerging adults are still expected to complete traditional adult developmental tasks such as career establishment, marriage, and parenthood. As emerging adults take on adulthood roles and responsibilities, they shift their attention away from friendships and invest more time in building strong and stable romantic relationships. A fundamental aspect of building a traditional adult life, where raising a family, marriage, and establishing a career are primary goals, requires a lifelong supportive romantic partnership between two individuals. Hence, it is not surprising that as emerging adults take on adult rules they shift their attention from friendships to romantic relationships in preparation to find a romantic partner that will help achieve the traditional benchmarks of adulthood.

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