Sexual Intimacy in a Relationship (Genital Stage of Development)

Freud focused on five psychosexual stages that individuals go through to develop a healthy adult personality. The last stage is the Genital stage, which extends from puberty to death. Here the sexual interests in the opposite sex emerge. The ego and superego aspects of personality play a more significant role. 

The genital stage is considered the highest level of maturity. In this phase, sexual impulses are satisfied through dyadic relationships and aggressive impulses through competition, physical activities like exercise. Sexual pleasure expands outside of the family, unlike the phallic stage where it was directed towards the opposite sex parent. The individual learns to balance individual interests in the social context and relationships.

At the onset of puberty, the libido resurfaces, and the focus is on heterosexual relationships. Sexual energy is expressed through heterosexual bonds and sexual intercourse. According to Freud, any conflicts in this stage would disturb relationships and may also lead to perversions. It is marked by the recurrence of sexual and aggressive drives, and if the individual unknowingly developed interest towards the same-sex parent, it can lead to a homosexual bond at this phase.

In this stage, the ego and superego are fully developed. Individuals are now able to check their desires and function within society’s standards and expectations.  The individual learns to balance work, love, and social relations. All the activities are viewed in a social context.