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The 3 phases of love and its characteristics

The 3 phases of love and its characteristics

May 6, 2021

Do you love your partner but you do not feel like the first day? Do you notice that the feeling you feel towards your partner has been changing over time? They are completely normal sensations that describe the changes in the way of feeling and interpreting what a relationship means to us.

This happens because couple's love has different phases and stages , all of them with their defining characteristics. If in the article "The 5 phases to overcome the grief of the breakup of couple" spoke of the stages of lovelessness, in this text we will deal with the different phases of love.

Love also evolves

It is important to emphasize that, although this is a phenomenon that has aroused much interest among professionals in psychology, there are discrepancies about the number of phases of love and the characteristics that define them.


However, according to psychologist John Gottman , author of the book Principais Amoris: The New Science of LoveRomantic love has three distinct phases that appear sequentially, in the same way that people are born, grow and age.

His research has shown that love is a complex experience, and have served to identify some stages of the life of the couple in which love can deteriorate or continue to evolve forward until you reach the form of deepest emotional bond .

Recommended article: "The 100 best phrases about love and romanticism"

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

What are these stages of love? What characteristics do they present? Then you can see them described and explained.


Phase 1: Limerencia

This stage is also called the phase of falling in love or lust , and it is the phase in which we are most excited and eager to see the other person. The feelings and emotions of the lovers have to do with the euphoria and with the rapid changes of the state of mind.

The term "limerencia" was coined by Dorothy Tennov , and according to this, the symptomatology characteristic of this stage are some physical changes such as redness, tremors or palpitations; excitement and nervousness, intrusive thinking, obsession, fantasizing thoughts and the fear of rejection.

The infatuation is something exceptional

In the book The Alchemy of Love and Lust, the Dr. Theresa Crenshaw explains that not everyone can make us trigger the cascade of hormones and neurotransmitters that accompanies 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 psychologist and communication director of the magazine Psychology and Mind , Jonathan García-Allen, in his article "The chemistry of love: a very powerful drug", explains that "in this phase the brain releases large amounts of dopamine, serotonin or noradrenaline, that's why when we fall in love we feel excited, full of energy and our perception of life is magnificent. Exactly the same as if we consume psychoactive substances. "

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

  • Phenylethylamine (PEA) : it is a natural amphetamine that our body produces and receives the name of "molecule of love".
  • Pheromones: derived from DHEA, influence sensuality rather than sexuality, creating an incredible sense of well-being and comfort. In addition, pheromones could influence our decision making without us realizing it.
  • Oxytocin: also called the hugs hormone, helps create close bonds with the other person. When we feel close to that person and have intimate relationships our body is responsible for segregating it. This chemical compound has a duration in the brain of about 4 years according to the theory of Donald F. Klein and Michael Lebowitz
  • Dopamine: is related to pleasure and is the neurotransmitter that plays an important role in gambling, the use of drugs, and also in love. It 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 the feeling of euphoria, exciting the body and giving it a dose of natural 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 hormones and neurotransmitters makes us tend to be less emotionally stable, at least for a while and, specifically, when we think about the other person or feel close to them.

Phase 2: Romantic love (building trust)

The questions that may arise during this phase are: "Will you be there for me?" "Can I trust you?" "Can I count on you for good and bad times?" These are some of the reflections we do to know if we want to continue with that person who has made us feel so much and if we really are with the right person for this long journey of love.

When we can not respond positively to these questions, conflicts arise again and again and can seriously erode the relationship . The answers to these questions are the basis of secure or insecure attachment to the relationship.

A challenge for the management of emotions

Therefore, it is common that at this stage there are crises . To leave graceful of them supposes a growth in the relation and the fortification of the affective bows. On the other hand, if doubts are confirmed, frustration, disappointment, sadness and anger may appear.

These crises can appear around 2 or 3 years and, in many cases, the result of these fights is determined by the negotiation and communication capacity of the members.

The development or construction of trust is based on taking into account the needs of the other member of the couple as well. This is achieved:

  • Being aware of the other person's pain
  • Having tolerance towards your point of view besides yours
  • Meeting the needs of the couple
  • With an active and non-defensive listening
  • With an attitude of empathy
Recommended article: "The 7 keys to have a healthy relationship"

Phase 3: Mature love (building commitment and loyalty)

If the couple manages to overcome the previous stage, reach the phase of marriage or mature love . This stage is characterized by the construction of a real and loyal commitment. It is the deepest stage of trust, in which more rational decisions are made. That is, there is a deeper assessment of the other person and there is a union that predominates over the emotional torrent and the agitation of the beginning of the relationship.

In this stage calm and peace are valued more, and the other person becomes a point of support. It gives more importance to attachment, tenderness, deep affection, and love reaches, then, another level .

Consolidating the stable relationship

In this stage, love feeds on understanding, on the part of both members of the couple . In some way, love is experienced in a less individualistic way, thinking of the couple as a unit that is more than the sum of its parts.

The emotional bond is not as obsessive as in the first phase and gives way to a free love, based on communication, dialogue and negotiation. In this phase it is very rare that communication problems appear that were not previously present, unless they are due to a concrete and easy to identify fact that breaks the health of the relationship.

To reach this phase, we must bear in mind that love is not born, it is built through time and it is constantly taking care of itself. The simple passage of time does not lead to the last of the main phases of love ; for example, it could make the emotional bond deteriorate if you stop paying attention.

Do you want to know more about mature love? This article may interest you: "Mature love: why is the second love better than the first?"

Why ‘love’ is a useless word – and three alternatives (May 2021).


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