Our discussion of gender relations and sexuality has illustrated the challenges, quandaries and hidden benefits of joining. It also supports the gender-neutral conceptions of adulthood and maturity offered earlier.

My proposal was that meaning is found through a joining of personalities. Masculine and feminine joining has an aspect that it would be well to emphasize. Because of the polarity of our personalities, it is difficult to sustain the joining. It is natural for us to separate, to process our experience and to place it in perspective vis à vis the other demands on our time and energy.

No healthful relationship demands the immersion and loss of our selves as independent personalities.

A sexual relationship is frequently the catalyst that enables the teen to achieve psychological separation from his or her parents. However, it does not signal the end of our development as personalities. By placing us in the position of reliance on our judgment and the judgment of our peers, in fact it opens doors to development that were previously closed.

But where are we headed, from that point? What are the signposts that we can use to guide us?