The 3 phases of love and their characteristics

Do you love your partner but don’t feel like the first day anymore? Have you noticed that the feeling you have towards your partner has changed over time? These are completely normal sensations that describe changes in the way we feel and interpret what a relationship means to us.

This happens because
couple love has different phases and stages, All with their defining characteristics. If in the article “The 5 phases to overcome the grief of the break-up of a partner” we spoke about the stages of lack of love, in this text we will approach the different phases of love.

Love also evolves

It is important to note that while this is a phenomenon that has generated a lot of interest among psychology professionals, there are discrepancies on the number of phases of love and the characteristics that define them.

however,
according to psychologist John Gottman, Author of the book Principa Amoris: The new science of love, romantic love has three well-differentiated phases that appear sequentially, the same way people are born, grow and age.

Their research has shown that love is a complex experience and has identified certain stages in a couple’s life during which love can deteriorate or continue to evolve. until you reach the deepest form of emotional bonding.

Recommended article: “The 100 best quotes about love and romance”

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

What are these stages of love? What features do they have? Below you can see them described and explained.

Phase 1: Limerence

This stage is also called the phase of falling in love or lust., And this is the phase in which we are most excited and eager to see the other person. The feelings and emotions of lovers are connected with euphoria and rapid mood swings.

The term “limerencia”
was invented by Dorothy Tennov, And according to this, the characteristic symptomatology of this stage is some physical changes such as redness, tremors or palpitations; excitement and nervousness, intrusive thinking, obsession, fancy thoughts and fear of rejection.

Falling in love is something special

In the book The Alchemy of Love and Lust, the Dra. Theresa Crenshaw explains that not everyone can get us to trigger the cascade of hormones and neurotransmitters that accompany the exciting first phase of love. But when falling in love occurs, then, and only then, the cascade of neurochemicals of falling in love explodes, changing our perception of the world.

The journal’s psychologist and communications director
Psychology and the mind, Jonathan García-Allen, in his article “The chemistry of love: a very powerful drug”, explains that “at this stage the brain releases large amounts of dopamine, serotonin or norepinephrine, which is why when we falls in love we feel excited, full of energy and our perception of life is magnificent. Just as if we were using psychoactive substances. ”

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

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

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

Phase 2: Romantic love (building trust)

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

When we cannot answer these questions positively,
conflicts arise over and over again and can seriously erode the relationship. The answers to these questions are the basis of whether or not a secure attachment to the relationship.

A challenge to manage emotions

From what has been said, it is common for there to be a seizure at this point. Getting out of the wind means growing the relationship and strengthening emotional bonds. Conversely, if the doubts are confirmed, frustration, disappointment, sadness and anger can arise.

These crises can appear around the age of 2 or 3, and in many cases the outcome of these fights is determined by the members’ ability to negotiate and communicate.

Developing or building trust is also based on taking into account the needs of the other member of the couple. This is achieved:

  • Be aware of the other person’s pain
  • Have tolerance for your point of view in addition to your own
  • Cover the couple’s needs
  • With active, non-defensive listening
  • With an attitude of empathy

Recommended article: “The 7 keys to a healthy relationship”

Phase 3: Mature love (build commitment and loyalty)

If the couple manages to overcome the previous stage, they reach the stage of union or mature love.. This stage is characterized by the construction of a real and faithful commitment. This is the stage of deepest trust, during which more rational decisions are made. In other words, there is a deeper appreciation of the other person and there is a union that predominates over the emotional torrent and turmoil of the beginning of the relationship.

At this point, stillness and peace are valued more, and the other person becomes a fulcrum.
More importance is given to inclination, tenderness, deep affection, and love then reaches another level..

Consolidate the stable relationship

At this stage, love is nourished by understanding, respect on the part of the two members of the couple.. Either way, love happens to be experienced in a less individualistic way, thinking of the couple as a unit that is more than the sum of the parts.

The emotional bond is not as obsessive as in the first phase and gives way to free love, based on communication, dialogue and negotiation. At this point, it is very rare to appear communication problems that did not exist before, unless they are due to a specific and easily identifiable fact that is shattering the health of the patient. relationship.

To reach this stage, you have to keep in mind that love is not born, it is built over time and it is constantly nurtured. The mere passage of time does not make you reach the last of the main phases of love; for example, it could deteriorate the emotional connection if you stop paying attention.

Want to learn more about mature love? This article may interest you: “Mature love: why is second love better than first?”

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