Early Adulthood [18 to 30 years]

Early Adulthood [18 to 30 years]

– typically this period sees the end of physical growth
– typical life events which occur in this period:
A) fall in love
– romantic love is an ideology
– passion | commitment | intimacy (the re-organisation of a person’s psychological make-up: Erikson – it requires a secure sense of identity because with fusion with another person inevitably comes identity loss)
– issues of Mary Ainsworth’s adult attachment (secure, avoidant, anxious/ambivalent) come into play when people form romantic love relationships
B) complete education
C) find employment
– Piaget: an adolescent becomes an adult when they undertake employment
– attachment styles are also influential in the context of work
– there is also the development of a career identity
D) establish home
E) get married
– 5 aspects are relevant to a couple’s marriage style (Levinger)
– 5 types of couples:
1) Conflict Avoiders
– persuasion attempts are minimised
– instead common ground is sought, while conflict is not resolved
– they also avoid expressing what they need from each other
– such people can be interdependent, but are also often independent – that is, they are often separate people with separate interests
2) Volatile Couples
– intensely emotional & high-persuasion
– lot of laughter is used, shared amusement & humour
– they debate & argue, but there is no disrespect/insulting
– they can express anger/insecurity but no contempt
– there can be a lot of overlap regarding boundaries
– honest/open communication is emphasised
3) Validating Couples
– the interaction style is easy & calm
– emotionally they are neutral – between Avoiders & the Volatiles
– a lot of emphasis is placed on understanding & supporting each other – including their point of view
– each is empathetic about the other’s feelings
– they will confront differences – but on some topics only
4) Hostile Couples
– defensive mode of communication
– there is a lot of criticism (“you always” & “you never” statements as well as whining)
– conflicts involve re-statements of positions with no compromise, seeking to understand or resolve
– lots of contempt is also demonstrated
5) Hostile-Detached Couples
– both are mutually frustrated (& lonely)
– conflict – often typified by sniping
– emotional climate is one of emotional detachment & resignation
– such couples – Gottman says – eventually divorces
– negativity is not regulated
F) start family (typically towards the end of this period)


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