In the last article, we looked at the importance of dating during the young adulthood years. In this week’s article, let’s understand the various dynamics involved in a young adult’s relationships. When we talk about dynamics, we are referring to the processes or factors which influence the nature, growth & characteristics of the relationship.
The important point to keep in mind here is that the dynamics between two people in a relationship is an amalgamation of several factors, like family, society, culture, education, etc., and this is true for any stage of the relationship and for relationships across age groups.
However, when it comes to young adults, the impact of these various factors on the relationship dynamics could be greater and far more exacting as compared to a relationship in any other age group. As discussed in the previous article, young adulthood is a period of transition from dependence to independence, autonomy, and self- reliance, and forming intimate positive romantic relationships, is an integral part of this.
In their paper published in 2013, Wildsmith et al. talk about several factors related to the dynamics of relationships in young adulthood. The researchers talk about four key emotional dimensions of relationships, which exert an influence on the relationship satisfaction that one derives from their intimate relationship. These include relationship satisfaction, commitment, love, and a sense of permanence.
Relationship Satisfaction refers to the subjective evaluation of how satisfied one feels in their romantic relationship. It includes both, the subjective attitude (satisfaction element) of being in a relationship and affective experience (happiness element) of being in a relationship. Happiness is often found to be the single most important predictor of the overall levels of relationship satisfaction. The ability of the two individuals in a relationship, to also relate to others like friends and family as a couple is also of great significance.
Other factors like personality characteristics, the similarity in values, and communication styles are some other aspects which contribute towards the relationship satisfaction of a relationship. In young adulthood, when both partners are still in the stage of discovering more about themselves, being satisfied in a relationship can depend on where is an individual in their own journey of self-awareness and awareness about what they want from a partner.
Relationship Commitment would refer to how likely are the two people in a relationship to be with each other, in spite of the challenges faced. Commitment is a sign of strength in a relationship and is the foundation of any relationship. In young adulthood, when an individual could still be exploring their likes or dislikes, and their preferences in a partner, commitment may take a backseat. With changing professional aspirations & physical distances from a loved one, it can often become challenging to uphold the commitment quotient of a relationship. However, being aware of what one really wants and the level of relationship satisfaction can assist one in maintaining a healthy relationship with their partner.
Love, the third key dimension of a romantic relationship, according to Wildsmith et al.’s (2013) research paper, is perhaps the most difficult to talk about as well. Love, in my opinion, is a very complex yet very simple emotion, which has multiple layers to it. It is an emotion which one feels when they are in a relationship to which they feel belonged, feel cared for by their partner, and feel a bond with someone. In young adulthood, love is often about sharing one’s experiences, preferences, secrets, etc. with the other person. Most importantly, it involves being accepted by the other person for who one really is.
Sense of Permanence in a relationship refers to feeling loved, being heard, being seen, and being in a relationship, even if the loved one is not around at that moment. It draws from the theories of object constancy in cognitive psychology; if not developed sufficiently during the early developmental years, it can translate into having an impact on one’s relationships in later life. It influences the stability in a relationship as it impacts the attitudes that one may have about their interpersonal relationships. In today’s times, we see a lot many young adults struggling with object constancy and thus, their sense of permanence in a relationship is often threatened.
To conclude, there are many factors which influence the dynamics of a relationship and awareness about what is influencing the dynamics of your relationship is of significant importance.