There Are Actually 5 Stages Of Love, But Why Do Many Get Stuck At Stage 3?
On 10th February 2018
We all want real, lasting love, whether we are in our 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, or beyond. Yet too many marriages fall apart and most people don’t know why. Longtime marriage and family counselor Jed Diamond noticed this and sought to develop a road map showing what he believes the five stages of love are. It's worth noting that with this model, the path to lasting love has a few pitfalls along the way — so partners will need to weather the storm during the bad times in order to get to the great times.
#1 Falling in Love
Falling in love is nature’s trick to get humans to pick a mate so that our species carries on. It feels so wonderful because you are awash in hormones such as dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, testosterone, and estrogen. In the early days of a relationship, it's easy to think the world of your new partner. You don't know them well enough to see flaws, so you may project your idea of perfection onto them.
You imagine that they will fulfill your desires, give you all the things you didn’t get as children, deliver on all the promises your earlier relationships failed to fulfill. You are sure you will remain in love forever. And because you are besotted with "love hormones," you ’re not aware of any of this. At this stage, there's no reason to believe you'll ever fall out of love with this person.
#2 Becoming a Couple
The euphoria is still there, but you're settling into becoming a couple. If stage one is the Romeo and Juliet phase, stage two is the functional adults phase. At this stage your love deepens and you join together as a couple. This is the stage where many couples choose to move in and have kids. It’s a time of togetherness and joy. You learn what the other person likes and you expand your individual lives to begin developing a life of "the two of yours."
More importantly, you develop a sense of couplehood where you're one cohesive unit rather than two people. During this phase you experience less of the falling head-over heals "in love" feelings. You feel more bonded with your partner. You feel warm and cuddly. The sex may not be as wild, but it’s deeply satisfying. After settling into this phase, many couples think it will stay this way forever.
Relationships can be a rocky road, and this is where things start to get tough. Stage 3 is where two marriages collapsed and for too many relationships this is the beginning of the end. This is a period where things begin to feel bad. It can occur slowly or can feel like a switch is flipped and everything goes wrong. Little things begin to bother. You feel less loved and cared for. You feel trapped and want to escape. It's the stage where couple start to grow irritated with each other and notice the other's flaws.
At this stage, the bloom has definitely worn off. You may long for the puppy love you had in the first stage, or the loving comfort you had in the second. It seems like the special love you once had is gone forever. It's a very difficult storm to weather. This is a time we often get sick in body, mind, and soul.
#4 Creating real, lasting love
After confronting the ugly realities of a long-term relationship in the previous step, you can start the healing process. Ongoing research from The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study demonstrates conclusively that childhood trauma can impact your physical, emotional, and relational health. In this stage the self-examination truly begins, as both partners think about what has happened in their lives to lead up to this point.
There’s nothing more satisfying than being with a partner who sees you and loves you for who you are. They understand that your hurtful behavior is not because you are mean and unloving, but because you have been wounded in the past and the past still lives with you. As we better understand and accept our partner, we can learn to love ourselves ever more deeply. At this point, you and your partner know and understand each other extremely well. You start to realize that they may be "the one" after all.
#5 Using the Power of Two to Change the World
No one has to remind us that the world is not doing too well. There are continuous wars and conflicts. Racial violence seems to be everywhere. We wonder whether humans can survive.
I wondered,"If we can’t even find peace between two people who love each other, what chance do we have to create a world that can work for all its peoples?"
But now I look at the flip side of that question. If we can learn to overcome our differences and find real, lasting love in our relationships, perhaps we can work together to find real, lasting love in the world. It's good to change the world for the better, but the real benefit here is finding something that you and your partner can pour your passion into.