Although every individual experiences family life-cycle transitions in unique ways, common challenges and experiences often arise at these transition periods. For example, many couples experience changes in their sexual relationship after they become parents. Likewise, adults’ understanding of what it means to have “positive” sexual functioning may differ at different stages in the family life cycle. It is important for helping professionals to pay attention to the unique needs of the individual clients they serve, while also keeping in mind these common challenges and experiences that may arise.

The family life-cycle stages you will consider for this assignment are:

o    Single adulthood

o    Committed, long-term relationships

o    Becoming parents

o    Divorce/relationship termination and remarriage/re-partnering

o    Older adulthood

The Assignment (2- to 3-page paper):

Use the five family life-cycle stages listed in the Sexuality in Adulthood Across the Family Life Cycle chart to organize your thoughts for this assignment. For this paper:

o    Describe two common sexuality-related transitions or concerns at each stage.

o    Provide two examples of how research and theory characterize positive sexual functioning during each stage.

o    Briefly describe how you might intervene or use this information to assist clients.

Support your Assignment with specific references to all resources used in its preparation. You are to provide a reference list for all resources, including those in the resources for this course.  


Adult Love and Intimacy

·  True intimacy is more difficult to achieve than true love because the emotion of love may be effortless, while the establishment of intimacy always requires effort.


·  We are more likely to be attracted to our field of eligibles, or the group of people from which it is socially acceptable to choose an intimate partner, because they are similar to us in race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic group, and even age.

·  One of the most reliable predictors of who a person will form a relationship with is proximity, since people are most likely to find partners among the people they know or see around them.

·  Typically, we are first attracted to another person based on physical factors; however, physical appearance tends to fade in importance over the life of the relationship.

·  We also tend to be attracted to partners who are similar to ourselves in ter ms of attitudes and personality, as well as similar levels of attractiveness, known as the “ matching hypothesis” .

·  Newer research has suggested that men and women (rather than just women, as in the past) want partners to have financial resources.

·  A study of individuals of various sexual orientations found that people want partners who have similar interests, values, and religious beliefs, who were honest, intelligent, affectionate, financially independent, dependable, and physically attractive.

Attraction in Different Cultures

·  Research from David Buss (1989) found that men across 37 cultures valued “ good looks”  in a partner more than women did, and women valued “ good financial prospects”  more than men.

·  He also found that men preferred mates who were younger, while women preferred mates who were older.

Intimate Relationships

·  Early researchers thought that willingness to self-disclose was itself the definition of intimacy.

·  Individuals who can self-disclose have been found to have higher levels of self-esteem and confidence in their relationship and rate their relationships as more satisfying.

·  Because intimacy makes us vulnerable and because we invest so much in the other person, intimacy can also lead to betrayal, disappointment, anger, and jealousy.

Male and Female Styles of Intimacy

·  Overall, heterosexual women tend to give more importance to the hope of having an intimate relationship in their future than heterosexual men do.

·  Men and women report equally desiring and valuing intimacy, but men grow up with behavioral inhibitions to expressing intimacy.

·  Other research suggests that men are just as intimate as women, but express intimacy different-perhaps more through action than words.

·  Research suggests that gay men are more likely than heterosexual men to believe that “ you should share your most intimate thoughts and feelings with the person you love.”

Intimacy in Different Cultures

·  One’s culture has been found to have a more powerful impact on love beliefs than one’s gender, as it affects how a person defines love, how easily he or she falls in love, whom he or she falls in love with, and how the relationship proceeds.

·  Passionate love is typically emphasized in individualistic cultures (America), but viewed more negatively in collectivist cultures (such as China or Japan).

·  Culture also affects one’s sense of self: In China, people’s sense of self is translated through their relationship with others, thus have a more practical approach to love.

·  In a cross-cultural study, researchers found that love is given highest importance in Westernized nations and the lowest importance in less developed Asian nations.

Long-Term Love and Commitment

·  It takes effort and commitment to maintain love and to continually build on and improve the quality of the relationship.

·  Most long-term relationships end not because they “ fell out of love”  but because the couple stopped working together on their relationship.

·  Couples who continue to communicate with each other, who remain committed to each other and the relationship, and who remain interested in and intimate with each other build a lasting bond of trust.

Loss of Love

·  A breakup can cause deep sadness and a profound sense of loss, and those who feel another has rejected them may also experience physiological changes, such as a skip in their heart beat.

·  Most people are very vulnerable after the loss of a love relationship, becoming vulnerable to self-blame, loss of self-esteem, and distrust of others.

·  Research on brain physiology has found that motivation, reward, and addiction areas of the brain are stimulated by relationship breakups.

·  Those with high self-esteems and/or secure attachment styles may be at a lower risk for distress caused by a breakup.

·  Time can help a rejected partner feel better because over time there is less activity in the area of the brain related to attachment.

Love, Sex, and How We Build Intimate Relationships

Love and Sex

·  Because the decision to engage in sexual contact involves the feelings and desires of two people, examining your motivation as well as your partner’s is important. Casual sex has become much more common and accepted than it was before the 1970’s, as the importance for love as an essential condition for sexual relations has diminished.

o    Partners should:

§  Clarify values.

§  Be honest with their self.

§  Be honest with their partner.

·  People meeting each other for the first time tend to reveal their levels of attraction by their body language.

Developing Intimacy Skills


·  Self-love is about being at ease with our positive qualities and forgiving ourselves for our faults, and is different from narcissism.

·  Although many people look to others for indications of self-worth, we must first take responsibility to know ourselves (self-intimacy) and then to accept ourselves as we are (self-love).


·  Receptivity can be communicated through smiling and eye contact, which allows the other person to feel comfortable and makes us approachable.


·  True communication begins with listening, which enhances intimacy.


·  Affection (as demonstrated by actions such as smiling, touching, and eye contact) shows that you feel a sense of warmth and security with your partner.


·  Having trust in our partner leads to more confidence that the relationship will last.

·  Research suggests that a couple that trusts each other expects their partner to care and respond to their needs, now and in the future.

·  Typically, the longer a relationship lasts, the more trust builds between the partners.


·  Respect is the process of acknowledging and understanding that person’s needs, even if you do not share them.

The Dark Side of Love

Jealousy: The Green-Eyed Monster

·  Jealousy is an emotional reaction to a relationship that is being threatened, where a threat is a matter of interpretation, and we are most jealous when we perceive another to have traits we want or think that we lack.

·  Men and women experience similar levels of jealousy in intimate relationships, yet some research supports the idea that men have more jealousy when they believe their female partner has had a sexual encounter with another man, while women are often more focused on the emotional or relationship aspects of infidelity.

·  However, research has found that it may have to do with whether the relationship is a short-term (where sexual infidelity is threatening) or long-term one (where emotional infidelity is often more threatening).

·  Levels of distrust, attachment styles, and the length of a relationship are all related to the likelihood for a partner to experience jealousy.

·  Improving one’s self-image and communicating one’s jealous feelings with their partner can help maintain the relationship.

Compulsiveness: Addicted to Love

·  Being in love can produce a sense of ecstasy, euphoria, and a feeling of well-being, which is a result of the body releasing the drug phenylethylamine.

·  Researchers Peele and Brodsky (1976) suggest that love addiction is more common than most believe and that it is based on a continuation of an adolescent view of love that is never replaced as the person matures.

Possessiveness: Every Move You Make, I’ll Be Watching You

·         Abusive relationships exist when one partner tries to increase his or her own sense of self-worth or control the other’s behavior through withdrawing or manipulating love.

·         Although every relationship has its boundaries, freedom within those agreed-on constraints is what encourages growth and maturation of both partners.

·         Possessiveness indicates a problem of self-esteem and personal boundaries, and can eventually lead to stalking.