3 Stages of Love and Its Characteristics

Stages of Love and Its Characteristics – The stages of falling in love and relationships, perfectly described.

Do you love your partner but you don’t feel like the first day? Do you notice that the feeling you feel towards your partner has been transformed over time? They are completely normal sensations that describe the changes in the way we feel and interpret what a relationship means to us.

This occurs because the couple’s love has different phases and stages, all of them with their defining characteristics. If in the article ” The 5 stages of love to overcome the duel of the breakup of a couple ” we talked about the stages of heartbreak, in this text we will discuss the different stages of love.

Love also evolves

It is important to note that, although this is a phenomenon that has aroused much interest among psychology professionals, there are discrepancies about the number of stages of love and the characteristics that define them.

Now, according to psychologist John Gottman, author of the book  Principal Amoris: The New Science of Love, romantic love has three distinct stages that appear sequentially, just as people are born, grow and age. 

His research has shown that love is a complex experience, and have served to identify some stages of the couple’s life in which love can deteriorate or continue to evolve forward until it reaches the deepest emotional bond.

The stages of love: limerence, romantic love and mature love

What are these stages of love? What characteristics do they have? You can see them described and explained below.

Stages of Love 1: Limerence

This stage is also called the infatuation or lust phase, and it is the phase in which we are most excited and eager to see the other person. The feelings and emotions of lovers have to do with euphoria and rapid mood swings.

The term “limerence” was coined by Dorothy Tennov, and according to it, the characteristic symptoms of this stage are some physical changes such as redness, tremors or palpitations; excitement and nervousness, intrusive thinking, obsession, fanciful thoughts and fear of rejection.

Falling in love is something exceptional

In the book  The Alchemy of Love and LustDr. Theresa Crenshaw explains that not everyone can make us unleash the cascade of hormones and neurotransmitters that accompanies the exciting first phase of love. But when falling in love occurs, then, and only then, does the cascade of neurochemicals in love erupts changing our perception of the world.

The psychologist and communication director of the journal Psychology and Mind,  Jonathan García-Allen, in his article ” The chemistry of love: a very potent drug “, explains that “in this phase the brain releases large amounts of dopamine,  serotonin or norepinephrine That is why when we fall in love we feel excited, full of energy and our perception of life is magnificent. Exactly as if we use psychoactive substances. ”

In short, when we fall in love, our brain secretes :

  • Phenylethylamine (PEA): it is a natural amphetamine that our body produces and receives the name of “love molecule”.
  • Pheromones: derived from DHEA, they influence sensuality rather than sexuality, creating an incredible sense of well-being and comfort. In addition, pheromones could influence our decision making without realizing it.
  • Oxytocin: also called the hugging hormone, it helps create close ties with the other person. When we feel close to that person and have intimate relationships, our body is responsible for segregating it. This chemical compound has a duration in the brain of about 4 years according to the theory of Donald F. Klein and Michael Lebowitz
  • Dopamine: it is related to pleasure and is the neurotransmitter that plays an important role in gambling, drug use, and also in love. It is important since it is involved in the reward system, that is, it helps us repeat pleasant behaviors.
  • Norepinephrine: also known as norepinephrine, is associated with the feeling of euphoria, exciting the body and giving it a dose of natural adrenaline.
  • Serotonin: acts on emotions and mood. She is responsible for the well-being, generates optimism, good humor and sociability.

This abrupt change in generation and hormones and neurotransmitters makes us tend to be less emotionally stable, at least for a while and, specifically, when we think of the other person or feel them close.

Stage 2: Romantic love (building trust)

The questions that may arise during this phase are: “Will you be there for me?” “Can I trust you?” “Can I count on you for the good and the bad times?” These are some of the reflections we make to know if we want to continue with that person who has made us feel so much and if we really are with the right person for this long journey of love.

When we cannot respond positively to these questions, conflicts arise again and again and can seriously erode the relationship. The answers to these questions are the basis of secure or insecure attachment to the relationship.

A challenge for emotion management

Therefore, it is common that there are crises at this stage. Getting out of them means growth in the relationship and the strengthening of emotional ties. Instead, if doubts are confirmed,  frustration, disappointment,  sadness and anger may appear.

These crises may appear around 2 or 3 years and, in many cases, the result of these fights is determined by the negotiation and communication capacity of the members.

The development or building of trust is based on taking into account the needs of the other member of the couple as well. This is achieved:

  • Being aware of the other person’s pain
  • Having tolerance towards his point of view besides yours
  • Covering the needs of the couple
  • With an active and non-defensive listening
  • With an  attitude of empathy

Recommended article: ” 

The 7 keys to a healthy relationship “

Stage 3: Mature love (building commitment and loyalty)

If the couple manages to overcome the previous stage, it reaches the stage of union or mature love. This stage is characterized by the construction of a real and loyal commitment. This is the deepest stage of trust, in which more rational decisions are made. That is, there is a deeper assessment of the other person and there is a union that predominates over the emotional torrent and the agitation of the beginning of the relationship.

In this stage, calm and peace are valued more, and the other person becomes a foothold. More importance is attached to attachment, tenderness, deep affection, and love reaches, then, another level.

Strengthening the stable relationship

At this stage, love feeds on understanding, on the respect of both partners. Somehow, love happens to be experienced in a less individualistic way, thinking of the couple as a unit that is more than the sum of its parts. 

The emotional bond is not as obsessive as in the first phase and gives way to a free love, based on communication, dialogue and negotiation. In this phase, it is very rare that communication problems appear that were not present before unless they are due to a concrete and easy to identify the fact that breaks the health of the relationship.

To reach this stage, it must be borne in mind that love is not born, it is built over time and is constantly taking care of itself. The simple passage of time does not reach the last of the main stages of love; for example, it could cause the emotional bond to deteriorate if attention is stopped.

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