Stages of Love - Falling in Love and Staying in Love
You might liken the two primary stages of love to two important seasons of a fruit bearing tree. The first stage of falling in love takes place when the tree is in full blossom. The second stage, staying in love, is when the rich life sustaining fruit is enjoyed.
Most people have at least glimpsed the blossoms of the first stage. But why is it that only a percentage of people ever cultivate and enjoy the rich fruits of the second?
Professionals say it is possible to have the relationship you want .
we shall harness the energies of love,
and then for the second time in history, we will have discovered fire!"
Pierre Teilhard de Chandin
Falling in Love
Young love, like a flower, is designed to be attractive. And for a very good reason... to pollinate and reproduce. The sweet scents of flower perfume wafting through the air do their magic for the flower. On a similar note, everyone around a new couple enthralled with each others company can easily identify 'love is in the air'.
In this earliest of the stages of love, everything in the romantic relationship seems to be honey and roses. He/she can't do anything wrong. You ache to see one another, and plan your days so you can spend as much time together as possible.
You've heard it said that 'love is blind', and it is never truer than in this early stage of falling in love.
Just as bees get a little crazy chasing down their favorite flowers, nature has concocted a cocktail of feel good chemicals to flood through your body when you are falling in love. Romantic attraction stimulates an actual explosion of adrenaline-like chemicals and they flood your brain, convincing you that your new partner is the most wonderful person in the world.
You might feel like fireworks are exploding... and you aren't even in bed yet! Your life fills with color and you feel the thump of excitement in your chest. These chemicals actually make your heart race.
It's this chemistry in the initial stages of love that gives you the gift of infatuation and makes new lovers a little bit crazy. Lovers look and feel like they are floating on air, as the rest of us going steadily about our daily lives... usually making a joke or two about the new romance. The natural amphetamines during this early phase of falling in love give people the exciting and appealing love spark that just might start a fire.
As fabulous as this stage is, it has it's pitfalls. You might say that one of the main ones is that these chemicals don't keep you high for ever! Everyone knows the honeymoon phase doesn't last.... the infatuation, blind love, and putting one another on a pedestal passes with time. Sometimes it is a quick and abrupt jilt, sometimes the attraction begins to slowly diminish after a couple of years.
To keep your love on track and keep going to explore both stages of love, you have to deal with some chemical let downs. Your body changes production of the compounds responsible for giving you the buzz of early love.
Because of these you might begin to feel that 'the magic just isn't there anymore':
- The body builds up a tolerance to these feel good adrenalin chemicals. When this happens, it takes more and more chemistry to bring that special high of love.
- Typically, the production of these chemicals begins to wane within three months to three years of the new romantic relationship.
Now you might be saying, well no wonder I always break up with a partner in the first three years... what chance do we have when the natural high has abandoned us?
This is a common breaking point for relationships, and many split and go their separate ways during such early days. However, as you know, there are relationships that experience the further stages of love, not only surviving, but thriving well beyond what are often these first tears.
So, what happens next.. is there a secret to staying in love?
Staying In Love
As your 'head over heels in love' phase begins to wane and you get your feet firmly back on the ground, you generally start to see the pitfalls and difficulties in your romantic relationship.
You might discover that in keeping love alive you have to dig deeper to honor that commitment about 'in good times and bad, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health'. When you do so, it seems life rewards you.
As more life experiences are shared, you likely learn many important things to help your relationship work, including which of the five love languages are most meaningful to your partner. This helps the fruit of love to nicely ripen. It will be waiting for you to harvest it.
As a couple grow together, a new group of chemicals begins production. With time, you are treated to a deep gratification that can only be produced by endorphins.
Endorphins are morphine-like opiates and have quite a different effect than the early love drug of adrenalin. Whereas adrenalin excites and heightens, endorphins calm and reassure.
Endorphins encourage and build closeness through feelings of intimacy, dependability, warmth, and shared experiences. They may not be as exciting as the 'high' of adrenalin's, but neither are they as stressful as the infatuation chemicals. They are steadier, and... they are more addictive!
The longer two people have been married, the more likely it is that they'll start to produce these endorphins, and therefore stay married. You might say they become addicted to the endorphins and to marital serenity.
Stages of Love and Personal Development
According to Mark Goulston, professor of psychiatry at the University of California, "Adrenaline-based love [first stage of falling in love] is all about ourselves, about having excitement... we like being in love. With endorphins, it’s about relationship... we like loving [second stage of staying in love]."
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