Even though I’ve been a research psychologist for my entire adult life, I have to admit that I had forgotten something significant about Erik Erikson and his stage theory. I was reminded of it while reading Robin Marantz Henig’s story in the New York Times Magazine titled, “What is it about 20-somethings?” Here’s the relevant excerpt:

“In young adulthood, according to his [Erikson’s] model, the primary psychological challenge is ‘intimacy versus isolation,’ by which Erikson meant deciding whether to commit to a lifelong intimate relationship and choosing the person to commit to.”

Erikson has been a tremendously influential psychologist who is still widely read. I wonder whether he has contributed to the misperception that if you are single, then you are isolated and alone.

[If you are interested, I wrote more about the Times story and its relevance to singles here.]