Essay On Emerging Adulthood

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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…show more content…
Barry et al. (2009) surveyed 710 emerging adults, ages 18 to 26, to examine the interrelations of identity development and the achievement of adulthood criteria with the qualities of romantic relationships and friendships during emerging adulthood. In their study, they found that as emerging adults take on adult roles and responsibilities, the quality of their friendships and romantic relationships are affected. Barry et al. argue that “relationships with friends and romantic partners serve distinct functions” during emerging adulthood (p. 220). According to Barry et al., friendships “satisfy social integration needs [such as companionship], feelings of worth, and to a lesser degree, intimacy” whereas “romantic relationships primarily satisfy intimacy needs and provide emotional support” (p. 210). Although both friendships and romantic relationships satisfy intimacy and emotional needs to different degrees, romantic partners fulfill intimacy and emotional needs on a more profound note that may be more suitable and “useful in supporting emerging adults for subsequent development tasks of establishing a marriage, family, and career” (p. 218). Essentially, romantic relationships deeply satisfy intimacy needs and provide emerging adults with the proper emotional support necessary to successfully complete the traditional…show more content…
Arnett (2000) explains the nature of romantic relationships in adolescence as tentative and transient where dating has more of a social component rather than romantic. He also describes dating in adolescence as often taking place in groups, where “adolescents share recreation such as parties, dances, and hanging out” (p. 473). It is evident that romantic relationships in adolescence are unstable, short-lived, and lack the mature component seen across adult romantic relationships. Arnett conveys that exploration in love becomes more serious and intimate during emerging adulthood. As opposed to adolescent romantic relationships, dating in emerging adulthood “is more likely to take place in couples, and the focus is less on recreation and more on exploring the potential for emotional and physical intimacy” (473). For instance, an adolescent in high school may seek a romantic partner to gain some sort of social status or experience in the process of romantic exploration whereas a senior in college may seek a long-term and mature partner to build a life with in adulthood. Exploration in the area of love during emerging adulthood “tends to involve a deeper level of intimacy, and the implicit question

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