Before young adults become involved in an intimate relationship they must have developed and must maintain a sense of personal identity. Without a sense of personal identity it is easy for a person to lose their independence and solely identify themself with the other person in the relationship. Adolescences who try to engage in intimate relationship often times lose their personal identity, a teenager is not mature enough to understand the concept and values to have a healthy intimate relationship. During adolescence, people should focus on their self and personal identity instead of an intimate relationship.
According to Erikson, before you could engage in an intimate relationship you must find your personal identity throughout adolescence. This stage of development is identity versus identity confusion, the question teens must ask is “who am I?” Erikson believed that you could not engage in a healthy intimate relationship until you found the answer to this question. This stage is focused on building social relationships while finding out who the person is with their own self-identity. Personally, I feel it is important to have a strong sense of self before engaging in an intimate relationship because if a person is lacking a sense of self they will become extremely attached to the partner and constantly look for approval or guidance from the person they are intimate with. This can often lead to unhealthy and abusive relationships if only one person has control in the relationship. The person who is lacking a sense of self will follow along and not be able to stand up for themselves when it is needed.
Once you have found a strong personal identity, Erikson believed you transitioned into the next stage which is intimacy versus isolation. During this stage the question a person has to ask themselves is “will I be loved or will I be lonely?” People who have a strong sense of self have an easier time maintaining healthy intimate relationships. People who lack a sense of self will have less committed relationships and feel lonely. According to Cavanaugh (2010), to have a healthy relationship, couples must be flexible, able to communicate and understandable. Couples must work at seven key things: 1. Make time for your relationship 2. Express your love to your spouse 3. Be there in times of needs 4. Communicate constructively and positively about problems in the relationship 5. Be interested in your spouse’s life 6. Confide in your spouse and 7. Forgive minor offenses, and try to understand major ones (Donatelle & Davis, 1997; Enright, Gassin, & Wu, 1992; Knapp & Taylor, 1994). These seven things help couples have successful relationships. People who lack a sense of self might not forgive minor offenses and they might make too much time for the relationship. People who have a strong personal identity should be able to maintain a healthy balance between an intimate relationship and a personal life of their own including friends and work.
Cavanaugh, John . Adult Development and Aging. 6th Edition ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2010. Print.