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Chapter Nine: Adolescence and Education

Section 6: Intimacy


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Tahitian Dance performed by Hula Nalau 'O Pi'ilaui at Polynesian Festival in Santa Cruz, 1998.


Once a person's identity is well established, hopefully by late adolescence, it forms a secure base from which to explore differences between oneself and others:



Thus, the young adult, emerging from the search for and the insistence on identity, is eager and willing to fuse his identity with that of others. He is ready for intimacy, that is, the capacity to commit himself to concrete affiliations and partnerships and to develop the ethical strength to abide by such commitments, even though they may call for significant sacrifices and compromises. (Erickson, Childhood and Society, p. 263).



Intimacy involves the recognition and prizing of differences. As differences come to be perceived as legitimate, one comes to realize the relativity of one's own perspectives. This results in the decline of adolescent egocentricity. One is less needful and willing to attribute omnipotence to one's ideals and theories. There is more willingness to recognize that the failure of the world to live up to one's expectations is probably due to the unrealistic nature of such expectations. This allows an increased acceptance of imperfections and weaknesses in others and in oneself.



As one recognizes one's limits, one seeks to derive strength through association with others. Thus, one's readiness for intimacy and one's need for intimacy emerge together.



Intimate relations are educational experiences. They expand one's identity through caring about others. One's self-awareness is expanded through increased acceptance. Self-knowledge is developed through increased acceptance. Self-knowledge is developed through continued feedback from interactions with a loved one. One's sense of purpose is developed as one becomes committed to the welfare of intimates and to the career affiliations that tend to be formed at this time.



This new desire for intimacy and acceptance of weakness act as an antidote to the hardening of the personality sometimes imposed by the competitive pressures of teamwork and these high-powered career arenas. Not only are physical disorders less likely once intimacy is achieved, but the tendencies toward sexual conquests and discomfort toward the weak, especially children, tend to be obviated. This makes for a more supportive family and friendship network, and a more meaningful and well-rounded existence.







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Transcultural Friendship: Our Political Future


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