16 Aug 2022


How One Young Adult Is Navigating Early Adulthood

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As described by Erickson’s developmental theory, early adulthood is characterized by intimacy vs isolation where the individual becomes sexually mature and seek meaningful relationships and construct their lives around love, isolation and long-term commitments (Westenberg, Blasi, & Cohn, 2013). This is clearly portrayed in the case study for analysis, Sarah and Dave, who are 24-year college graduates. This relationship depicts traits that suggest positive prognosis as evident in their shared interest and strong physical chemistry while at the same time reflect deep contrast in their behavior and orientations that can potentially lead to its failure (Overall et al., 2015). This paper argues that Sarah and Dave’s relationship has a good prognosis and is likely to proceed. It points at attachment behavior evident in the relationship and pursuit of love and intimacy associated with that stage. However, it also points to their inherent differences as a major argument for a poor prognosis by my colleagues. 

Why Sarah’s Relationship has a Good Prognosis 

Sarah and Dave have a strong attachment behavior in their relationship, a factor that is critical for the success of their relationship, leading to a good prognosis (Westenberg, Blasi, & Cohn, 2013). They share values such as being outgoing and adventurous and tend to have a lot of fun together. They share the same interest such as running, riding bikes, going to the theatre, and traveling. Most significantly, they have a strong chemistry and even share personal things. There is, therefore, a strong attachment process between them as they share most ideals postulated in the application of attachment behavior in romantic relation (Overall et al., 2015). The attachment behavioral system evident in their relationship is, therefore, a strong spring of motivation to sustain their relationship. As such, they feel safe when the other is nearby as seen by their having good times and strong physical chemistry (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2013). They also tend to feel insecure when one is away as evident by Sarah asking Dave to move into Chicago to allow them to stay together. Most significantly, the two share their discovery together and tend to enjoy each other's company. They have a reliable and functional mutual fascination and preoccupation with each other as evident in the way in which they spend their leisure together through riding, running and going to the theater. 

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There is, therefore, a strong and effective attachment behavior system between Dave and John that to a larger extent drive the relationship towards success than its attempt to tear it apart. This romantic relationship is therefore analogous to a relationship between an infant and their caregiver (Huber & Malhotra, 2014). Taking one from the other result into automatic dissent and distress and an immediate aggressive reaction to reunite with the other missing part. With the attachment behavior comes the motivation to stay together and focus on the mutual benefits realized from such co-existence (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2013). Sarah and Dave and more likely to stay together and grow their relationship despite the strain evident in such a relationship. This is a strong indication of a positive relationship. 

Secondly, Sarah and Dave have a good prognosis due to their age, hence the stage of development as postulated by Erikson's theory of development. Both are 24-year-old college graduates, making it an ideal age to develop a strong relationship that leads to marriage and more serious long-term commitments such as co-parenting (Overall et al., 2015). This is deeply supported by Erikson's 6th stage of development regarding intimacy and isolation. Erickson postulated that the pursuit of intimacy grows stronger and more relevant between 18 to 40 years (Westenberg, Blasi, & Cohn, 2013). Sarah and Dave perfectly fit within this stage. In this stage, individuals would begin to share themselves more intimately with others. Such individuals would also remain open to exploring relationships that would lead to long-term commitment. 

The core motivation is the achievement of a sense of commitment, deep care, and safety in relationships with other people. It is a direct avoidance of the isolation, the loneliness that may even result in depression in individuals who avoid intimacy at this stage. The pursuit of love is critical at this stage, with individuals who successfully establish a strong working relationship eventually feeling loved and cared for. It is, therefore, accurate to predict that since both Sarah and Dave are in their early adulthood, characterized by the pursuit of intimacy, there is mutual benefit in developing a love relationship. Both are positive about starting a family and engaging in a long-term relationship that will come with additional responsibilities and commitment. Erikson's theory of psychological development therefore explicitly support the good prognosis as the two will tend to remain and stay together to build their lives (Huber & Malhotra, 2014). Failure to effectively pass this stage has a direct consequence on their future development, an observation that can further motivate them to stay together. Since the development is pre-conditioned, they are more likely to stay together and solve their issue without having to separate (Overall et al., 2015). 

Opposing Argument 

There are intrinsic issues within Sarah and Dave’s relationship that can make it of poor prognosis and hence likely to fail and which the classmate can exploit to reason against my good prognosis assertions. First, the relationship is likely to fail due to the political difference between Sarah and Dave. Sarah is liberal while Dave is conservative. Political difference is a major determinant of success in a relationship especially in the American society where different regions continue to either turn ‘deep blue’ or ‘deep red’ with the rise of some political intolerance between different regions and demographics (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2013). The recent study by Huber and Malhotra (2014) exploring the psychology of marriage revealed that political affiliation is a major determinant of the success of a relationship. In an analysis of over 18 million heterosexual marriages, the study revealed that only 9% of the couples were liberal-conservative couples. In essence, more partners prefer to stay with individuals who share their political views. At the moment, Sarah and Dave are holding a different political view and only managing its possible consequences by remaining silent. While this seems to work at the moment, the political division remains a permanent issue that is likely to become an problem in their later lives hence leading to a failed relationship (Overall et al., 2015). There is bound to be a strain in the relationship surrounding the political affiliation of the couple, a debate that can further strain their relationship especially taking into consideration that they have only dated for one and half years, which is relatively a shorter period. 

Secondly, Sarah and Dave's relationship is likely to fail due to elements of stress in Dave which he often direct to Sarah. There is a close relationship between stress in the relationship and low satisfaction in such relationships (Westenberg, Blasi, & Cohn, 2013). In different ways, both internal stress, that is stress from within the relationship, and external stress, have a negative impact of a relationship’s satisfaction and hence longevity. In the long run, expressing one stress, whether picked from the relationship or acquired from work or other external environment, strain the understanding between partners that in different ways can ultimately influence the possibility of a break-up. Dave is in a habit of expressing his stress to Sarah, a phenomenon that she may not tolerate for a long time and which may lead to lower satisfaction in the relationship, hence a poor prognosis. While this stress is augmented by mediators such as self-regulation depletion and partner aggression, it consistently creates a toxic environment that initiates a chain of reaction of misunderstandings, intolerance, and low satisfaction, hence a breakup in the relationship (Overall et al., 2015). From these two perspectives, it can thus be argued that Dave and Sarah’s relationship has a poor prognosis and will soon fail. 

Missing Information Regarding the Case 

While the case provides a highly comprehensive presentation of Sarah and Dave’s relationship, there is certain information that is missing that would otherwise lead to a more accurate prediction on the prognosis of the relationship. The first is an account of their past relationships. Having a stable relationship in the past can predict a stable relationship at the present, despite the challenges (Westenberg, Blasi, & Cohn, 2013). Likewise, an unstable and short-term relationship in the past would predict equally unstable and short relationships in the present, hence the possibility of breaking up. In essence, a brief insight into the couple’s past dating experiences would provide a stronger and relevant understanding of whether the relationship would work. 

Secondly, information about Sarah’s and Dave’s cultural heritage is missing. Cultural affiliation is a major determiner of the success of a given relationship. Different cultures will result in different values and expectations that can further complicate the relationship (Overall et al., 2015). For instance, Hispanics and African Americans have different cultures, and so is different races such as Chinese and the whites. These minor discrepancies will thus lead to more misunderstandings that can eventually strain the relationship. Providing this information would have been critical for defining the relationship. 


In conclusion, the case study was based on Sarah and Dave’s relationship. It argued that the relationship has a good prognosis and is therefore likely to stay intact due to the attachment behavior as well as Erikson’s principle of intimacy vs isolation characteristic in young adults’ phase of life. However, the couple has a different political affiliation that could have a major impact on the integrity of the relationship and is also affected by stress. Two missing pieces of information that could have been added are their dating history and cultural differences. 


Huber, G., & Malhotra, N. (2014). Political Sorting in Social Relationships. In  Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, New Orleans, LA

Mikulincer, M., & Shaver, P. R. (2013). An attachment perspective on psychopathology.  World Psychiatry 11 (1), 11-15. 

Overall, N. C., Fletcher, G. J., Simpson, J. A., & Fillo, J. (2015). Attachment insecurity, biased perceptions of romantic partners’ negative emotions, and hostile relationship behavior.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 108 (5), 730. 

Randall, A. K., & Bodenmann, G. (2017). Stress and its associations with relationship satisfaction.  Current Opinion in Psychology 13 , 96-106. 

Westenberg, P. M., Blasi, A., & Cohn, L. D. (2013).  Personality development: Theoretical, empirical, and clinical investigations of Loevinger's conception of ego development . Psychology Press. 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 14). How One Young Adult Is Navigating Early Adulthood.


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