Here’s how a love relationship changes over time – the phases of love include sizzling hot chemistry, comfortable attraction, and a deep emotional attachment. If your romantic relationship has changed over time, you and your partner are normal!
“Love at first sight is easy to understand; it’s when two people have been looking at each other for a lifetime that it becomes a miracle.” ~ Amy Bloom.
And there are two stages of love! The initial romantic chemistry, and the love that lasts a lifetime. One of my favorite books about relationships is ScreamFree Marriage: Calming Down, Growing Up, and Getting Closer. Even if you and your spouse don’t scream at each other, you need to read that book
And, check out these three phases of romantic love and four tips for relationships…
The 3 Phases of Love
Romantic feelings and chemistry
Romantic love is driven by testosterone and estrogen. Mating is the evolutionary purpose of this stage of love; it creates strong physical attraction and sets the stage for emotional attachment. In this phase of love, endorphins soak your brain and you’re immersed in intense pleasure. Your partner is perfect, ideal, made for you. In the romance phase you feel exhilarated and even “high” (similar to the feeling you get after eating gourmet dark chocolate or enjoying a great workout!).
Physical attraction and power struggles (the “lovesick” phase)
In the second phase of a romantic love relationship, you may lose your appetite, need less sleep, and daydream about your lover on the bus, during meetings, in the shower. In this stage of love, the hormones dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are racing through your body and brain. You’re also trying to shape your lover into your ideal partner – which is where the power struggles come in (and where the book How to Change Someone You Love might come in, too!). In this relationship phase, you’re becoming more realistic, and you and your partner may argue about things such as which friends to spend time with or whether you should listen to country or rap music in the car. The infatuation is wearing off, and a strong emotional attachment begins to set in.
Emotional attachment or unconditional acceptance
A mature love relationship involves commitment, partnership, and even children. In this phase of love, you’re aware of both positive and negative traits in your partner, and you’ve decided you want to build a life together – and perhaps get married. Confrontation is most likely to occur in this stage of love (though if you’re authentic and honest, it’ll also happen in the second phase). You and your partner will either stay committed to a healthy love relationship or decide to call it quits.
One of the most interesting debates about marriage and committed relationships is the idea of unconditional love. Read What is Unconditional Love? Signs and Secrets.
4 Tips for a More Loving Relationship
Focus on the things you can control in your relationship
Your attitude, your behavior, your words, and your energy are all things you have control over. If you want something to change in any phase of a romantic relationship, focus on your own attitudes or actions – not your partner’s (I know this contradicts the book I featured above, but it really is a fascinating read!).
Vent in healthy ways (in all phases of love)
Learn healthy ways to express your disappointment, anger, or frustration. Be honest and authentic, and kind and loving in all stages of romance. Psychological research shows that the happiest couples are true to themselves.
Remember the first, most romantic phase of love
Relive your feelings of lust and attraction for your partner. Think about the traits you were once attracted to, and work to revive those old feelings. Don’t forget who you fell in love with. If you’re struggling with your relationship, read When He Says He Doesn’t Love You Anymore.
Own both your positive and negative feelings
Your partner can’t “make” you feel anything. If you feel unfulfilled in your life or overwhelmed by relationship problems, look at your dreams and goals. Are you pursuing the life you were meant to live? Are you following your heart? Develop your personality, mind, and spirit. Figure out what will make you happy in this phase of romance, and start creating the life you were meant to live.
Love isn’t just a vehicle that brings happiness and contentment to your life (or frustration and anger!). Love is a living, dynamic creature that changes, grows, and needs attention…and you must nurture it.
Has your loved changed to the point that you’re in a loveless relationship – or your partner isn’t honest with you? Read Why We Hurt the Ones We Love.
What phase of love are you in? Comments welcome below.
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.