- Psychosocial Conflict: Intimacy Versus Isolation
- Major Question: "Will I be loved or will I be alone?"
- Basic Virtue: Love
- Important Event(s): Romantic Relationships
Intimacy versus isolation is the sixth stage of Erik Erikson's theory of psychosocial development. This stage takes place during young adulthood between the ages of approximately 19 and 40. During this period of time, the major conflict centers on forming intimate, loving relationships with other people.
While psychosocial theory is often presented as a series of neatly defined, sequential steps, it is important to remember that each stage contributes to the next. For example, Erikson believed that having a fully formed sense of self (established during the identity versus confusion stage) is essential to being able to form intimate relationships. Studies have demonstrated that those with a poor sense of self tend to have less committed relationships and are more likely to suffer emotional isolation, loneliness, and depression.
Erikson believed it was vital that people develop close, committed relationships with other people. Success leads to strong relationships, while failure results in loneliness and isolation.
Return to The Psychosocial Stages
Erikson, E.H. (1968). Identity: Youth and Crisis. New York: Norton.
Erikson, E.H. (1963). Childhood and Society. (2nd ed.). New York: Norton.