Understanding the Stages of Romantic Love, Part One

WELCOME!

Do you remember the first time you fell in love?

Your heart raced, you had butterflies in the pit of your stomach, and you could not stop thinking about him.

You quickly moved form dating to spending the vast majority of your free time together and for a while things were new, exciting, and positive.

Sex was great.

He told you that he loved you.

You were happy, fulfilled, and thought that you would be together forever.

Your new love was a dream come true!

This is the power of passion.

Then a shift occurred in your consciousness.

You began to notice some of his faults.

Minor disagreements began to turn into arguments and power struggles.

He didn’t seem as emotionally connected to you and you began to drift apart.

You eventually broke up.

You remember feeling disappointed, sad, lonely and wondering why such a good thing turned out so badly.

Ouch!

The stages of romantic love are pretty much the same for everyone.

Understanding the stages of romantic love can help you to make the most out of your relationship opportunities.

The following discussion breaks the stages of romantic love down into a nice neat, linear and predictable pattern.

In reality, the stages of romantic love actually blend more together and I have found that couples can, and often do, make great strides toward true, lasting love in all of the stages described below.

Romantic Feelings

I remember the first time I met my wife, Julia.

Although it took us 25 plus years to get together as a couple, I remember that special day like it was yesterday.

The first stage of romantic love is largely dominated by our biologically.  We are instinctively driven to find a partner and procreate.

During this stage of love, endorphin levels surge and you experience intensely pleasurable sensations around your new partner and relationship.

You naturally tend to see your new partner as perfect, ideal, custom made for you: the sky is the limit.

You feel exhilarated and even “high”.

This stage of love can best be described as being dominated largely by infatuation.

Your judgment is limited and you just can’t wait to see him again.

This phase of love sets the stage for the beginnings of deeper levels of physical attraction and emotional attachment.

Physical Attraction

During the second stage of love your experience continues to be largely shaped by your biology.

Dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are racing through your body and brain.

You may lose your appetite, need far less sleep, frequently daydream about your new love during meetings, while riding the subway, in the shower and so on.

Sex is new, exciting, and you feel very satisfied.

You begin to see the possibility of a new life with your special person and therefore try to begin to exercise some control over his actions.

Your powers of judgment and discernment begin to return as you become more realistic about what it will actually take to spend your life with you new love.

“Power struggles” begin to emerge as you try and shape your new partner into your ideal love.

You may fight about simple every day things as you and your new partner test the waters of being together much of the time.

The idea of “mutual commitment” begins to form as your infatuation begins to wear off and you return to reality.

Emotional Attachment

This is the stage where things become progressively more practical and focused on the long term.

It is in this stage of love that you begin to seriously explore commitment, partnership, and may even discuss the possibility of having children together or combining families if you already have children.

You become acutely aware of your partners positive and negative qualities.

You may even compare him to previous loves.

Things become more serious and you both (hopefully) “have more skin in the game”.

Fear of intimacy and, ultimately, fear of rejection often prevents many folks from both sexes from becoming more deeply connected and committed.

Arguments, confrontation, and more frequent power struggles often occur in this stage.

This is the phase where folks often ‘bail” and either consciously or unconsciously sabotage the relationship.

This is also the stage of love where folks either consciously or unconsciously begin to move toward a committed, long-term relationship.

Unconditional Acceptance and Long Term Commitment

This stage represents the beginnings of a consciously formed, mutually empowering relationship.

In this stage you have both come to truly see each other much more accurately and have made the choice to build a committed partnership together.

The above discussion is intended to provide you with a general framework from which to understand the process of “falling in love”.

I also hope that this post has helped you to take a step back and have more compassion toward yourself.

You Are Always Building YOUR Relationship House

From my perspective, we are all always building our relationship house.

Every interaction with another human being is an opportunity to move closer together.

Summary:

The four stages of romantic love are:

  1. Romantic Feelings
  2. Physical Attraction
  3. Emotional Attachment
  4. Unconditional Acceptance and Long Term Commitment

Understanding the stages of romantic love can help you to make more mutually empowering choices.

I sincerely hope that you found this post inspiring and useful.

I welcome your comments and questions.

Next week’s post will focus on some important principles and actionable steps that you can take in any stage of romantic love that will help you to make the most of your relationship opportunities.

Live, Connect, Love and Prosper

See YOU next week!

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1 Comment »

Comment by stephen light
October 1, 2013 @ 10:51 am

Love it Ron

The distinction between Romantic feelings and Emotional attachment is very helpful.

Love & Courage
Stephen


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