What Are the Three Stages of Love?
Before you embark on the stages of love, you might want to learn learn Why We Fall in Love.
The three stages of love are the same for everyone: lust or romantic love, physical attraction, and emotional attachment. The stages of love or stages of relationships aren't necessarily separated by markers like anniversaries or events (such as getting married). Rather, the three stages of love blend together in one long stroke of love.
Not everyone reaches or stays in the final stage of love, which is when separation or divorce becomes an option.
The Three Stages of Love
Romantic love or lust is the first stage of love. It's driven by testosterone and estrogen. Mating is the evolutionary purpose of this stage of love; it creates strong physical attraction and sets the stage for emotional attachment. In this stage of relationship, endorphins soak your brain and you're immersed in intense pleasurable sensations. Your lover is perfect, ideal, made for you. In this stage of love you feel exhilarated and even "high" (similar to the feeling you get after you eat really good chocolate or have a great workout). You feel infactuated in this stage of relationship.
Physical attraction and power struggles make up the second stage of love (the lovesick phase). You may lose your appetite, need less sleep, and daydream about your lover on the bus, during meetings, in the shower. In this stage of love, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are racing through your body and brain. You're also trying to shape your lover into your ideal partner – which is where the power struggles come in. In this stage of relationship, you're becoming more realistic, and you two may fight about things like whether or not to buy organic food or listen to country music. The infatuation is wearing off, a strong emotional attachment begins to set in, and feelings of infactuation fade.
Emotional attachment or unconditional acceptance is the third stage of love. It involves commitment, partnership, and even children (a fear of intimacy prevents many from reaching this stage of love). In this stage of relationship, you're aware of both positive and negative traits in your partner, and you've decided you want to build a life together. Confrontation is most likely to occur in this stage of love (though if you're authentic and honest, it'll also happen in the second stage of love). You and your partner will either work towards a healthy, loving relationship or decide to call it quits.
The Three Stages of Love: Staying in Love
Your partnership isn't just a vehicle that brings happiness and contentment to your life (or bitterness and pain). It's a living, dynamic creature that changes, grows, and needs attention -- and you must nurture it. In all three stages of love, your love reveals who you really are, in all your glory and weakness.
All stages of love can help you accept your strengths and weaknesses. All stages of relationships also reveal your partner's strengths and weaknesses.
7 Tips for All 3 Stages of Love:
Focus on the things you can control: your attitude, your behavior, your words, and your energy. If you want something to change in any stage of a loving relationship, make it your own traits or actions – not your partner's.
Learn healthy ways to express your disappointment, anger, or frustration. Be honest and authentic, and kind and loving in all stages of relationships.
Remember the first stage of love! Recall your feelings of lust, attraction, and desire for your partner. Think about the traits that you were attracted to, and let those old feelings come to life again.
Appreciate your partner's good qualities; be grateful for the life you share. Gratitude can enhance all stages of relationships.
Focus on emotional intimacy in all three stages of love. Be vulnerable to have a healthy love life.
Own your feelings. Your partner can't "make" you feel stupid or worthless. If you feel unfulfilled or sad about your life, look at your own dreams and goals. Are you pursuing the life you were meant to live? Are you following your heart? Develop your personality, mind, and spirit. Figure out what will make you happy in this stage of love, and start creating the life you were meant to live.
Consider counseling in any stage of love. If you've lost that loving feeling, it could be an individual thing that you need to deal with or a couples' issue that you should tackle together. An objective point of view, from a therapist, pastor, or friend you trust, is incredibly helpful in all stages of relationships.