We’re getting down to the end. People often think of this stage as marking the entrance to adulthood though this has changed some in recent generations. In intimacy versus isolation, young adults, ages 18-35, are finding intimate partners and significant relationships outside of their families of origin. These form the basis of an adult social life, including the romantic partner. Hence, the first part of this stage—intimacy. In accomplishing this, young adults learn how to love and connect with someone, or a few people, on a deep and personal level, thus increasing their sense of belonging.
If a young adult cannot accomplish this, then the sense of belonging is limited and that deep connection to others is lost. A sense of isolation increases and normal social development stalls out because of that isolated state. This is the young adult who drifts around and never seems to have much of a connection anywhere or to anyone.
Does this sound familiar? It is your standard romance plot line. Now, if you want to mix it up a little, take out the romance piece. While this stage focuses mainly on the romantic, intimate relationship, it does also apply to other close, important relationships outside of the family of origin. What would happen when a society expects a romantic relationship and your main characters do not have that or vice versa? Or how do you get your character out of that isolative place? Or maybe try exploring a non-traditional intimate relationship.
Take that traditional interpretation of this stage, turn it on its ear, and let me know how it goes!