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date: 23 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Whereas theories of romantic stage development suggest that youth in the period of emerging adulthood are fully capable of commitment to an intimate romantic relationship, recent research suggests that the relationships of many young people are quite different. Marriage and other forms of deep commitment are delayed while many youth engage in short-term casual encounters or in noncommitted relationships. This chapter suggests that these data pose a challenge to stage theories, one that can be reconciled by considering the developmental life tasks that emerging adults must simultaneously resolve. The authors propose a transitional emerging adult romantic stage, coordinating romance and life plans, in which young people strive to integrate career paths and life plans with those of a romantic partner. Resolution of this stage provides the grounding for long-term commitment to a life partner. This proposal is discussed within the perspective of life cycle and evolutionary life history theories.

Keywords: Romantic relationships, emerging adulthood, romantic stage theories, life history theory, adolescent romantic development, life plans

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