Independence: Age 17–28

Psychosocial development in adulthood consists of changes in lifestyles and relationships. According to Erikson, the primary task of early adulthood is to establish identity and intimacy (sharing one's total self with someone else) after wrestling with the intimacy versus isolation psychosocial crisis, which poses commitment to others opposite the possibility of self‐absorption. Much psychosocial development occurring during this period is in conjunction with significant life changes, such as leaving home, finding a long‐term romantic relationship, beginning a career, and starting a family.

An important aspect of establishing intimacy with a partner is first being able to separate from the family of origin, or family of procreation. Most young adults have familial attachments from which they are separating. This process normally begins during Daniel Levinson's early adult transition (ages 17–22), when many young adults first leave home to attend college or to take a job in another city.

By age 22, young adults have attained at least some level of attitudinal, emotional, and physical independence. They are ready for Levinson's entering the adult world (ages 22–28) stage of early adulthood, during which relationships take center stage. Moreover, dating and marriage are natural extensions of the eventual separating from the family of origin—a key process in becoming an adult. Early bonding and separation experiences, then, set the stage for later independence from the family and the ability to form healthy attachments.