Investigation of Starting Romantic Intimacy in Emerging Adulthood in Terms of Self-Esteem, Gender and Gender Roles

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study aims, firstly, to examine whether gender plays a decisive role in starting romantic intimacy during the emerging adulthood period; secondly, to compare emerging adults who are assigned different gender roles, in terms of starting romantic intimacy; and thirdly, to analyze the level at which self-esteem and gender roles predict the ability to start romantic intimacy. This study examines the relationship between, gender, gender roles, self-esteem and initiating romantic intimacy at emerging adulthood. A total of 256 individuals (148 female and 108 male) completed the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, Bem Gender Roles Inventory (BGRI) and Markers of Starting Romantic Intimacy Scale. In this study, t-test was used to determine whether gender plays a significant role in initiating a romantic intimate relationship, and also variance analysis method was used to determine whether gender roles plays a significant role in initiating a romantic intimate relationship. Besides basic regression analysis was employed to uncover the interaction between initiating a romantic intimate relationship and gender, self-esteem, and gender roles. It was found out that there was gender difference on starting romantic intimacy. Regression analysis shows that self-esteem, gender, and also gender roles were the most important factors for starting romantic intimacy. The findings of the study suggest that there is a statistically significant relationship between starting romantic intimacy, gender, gender roles, and also self-esteem. The results of the research were found parallel with the literature, and also they are discussed with respect to emerging adulthood, gender, self-esteem and cultural factors.

Key Words

Romantic Relationship, Gender, Self-Esteem, Gender Roles.

In recent years, the development psychology literature has offered some explanations suggesting that individuals do not mature directly from adolescence to adulthood; rather, they experience a preparation period before transition to adulthood (Arnett, 2000). For instance, socio-economic changes recorded in the last 5 decades have been found to have some reflections on individuals' transition from adolescence into adulthood. In this process, it has been revealed that individuals postpone developmental duties such as getting married, becoming a parent, completing their education, and living in a separate house until the end of their 20s (Arnett, 2001; Casper & Bianchi, 2002). Arnett (2000; 2004) labels the period that individuals experience after adolescence and before adulthood as "emerging adulthood". Studies conducted in Turkey showed that the emerging adulthood period is experienced in the age range 19-26 years (Atak, 2005; Atak & Çok, 2010).

According to Arnett (2000), one of the most important duties of emerging adults is identity exploration. The process of identity development includes many attempts and decisions made in various areas of life. Attempts and decision-making processes undertaken particularly in the fields of love, business and worldview start during adolescence; however, they develop during emerging adulthood (Sternberg, 1999). Starting romantic intimacy is addressed as the most important variable for sustaining romantic intimacy and exploring identity. Analysis of the literature shows that romantic relations are regarded as a process, and offers some information on the factors that sustain and end this process. Within this scope, starting romantic intimacy is deemed an important element of this process. Studies have only begun to address this topic recently: Eryilmaz and Atak (2009) identified five important determinants of "starting of romantic intimacy" among emerging adults: (i) self-perception, (ii) self-knowledge, (iii) behavioral intimacy, (iv) emotional and cognitive intimacy, and (v) romantic verbalization. Emotional and cognitive intimacy includes asking others' point of view, thinking about others and expressing one's emotions. …