“Love is not love which alters it when alteration finds or bends with the remover to remove: O no! It is an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken; it is the star to every wandering bark whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.” – William Shakespeare
If you go and google ‘What is love’, the first thing ranked will be ‘Haddaway – What Is Love.’ And then your brain will immediately go ‘baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more.’ And then you will think, why is love always associated with ‘hurt’ and ‘pain’? And then the lyrics goes ‘What is love, yeah.’ Uhmm, maybe that’s the answer. Love is just yeah. Maybe it’s not supposed to be defined further. But, then again my brain cells are not satisfied without being infused with some sort of rational enlightenment of ‘biology of love’ that run the gamut of accuracy.
Shall I ask a certain star-crossed Shakespearean couple on their scintillating cinematic love experience? Or shall I let the body go haywire and go ‘chemical’ on the ‘total eclipse of the brain’ field?
I think the most important thing is that ‘what is love’ shouldn’t be answered with a formula where a romantic partner is the main factor. Life is more than being solely about relationships or another person. Part of the equation of love is also work, friendship, artistic pursues and your dreams.
However, what we will be focusing on now is the romantic partnership part of the formula and its inevitable ups and downs, which we don’t really know where they stem from. However, we have grouped them into 5 stages.
Many look for love in all the wrong places. Jumping up to Stage 5 without going through the struggles of the 3rd Stage may be the wrong approach. That is why many consider Stage 3 as ‘the end’, rather than the real beginning of a new stable phase of a relationship.
To get a better understanding of this, let’s see below 5 stages of love and their characteristics:
Attraction and Infatuation
According to a team of scientists led by Dr. Helen Fisher at Rutgers, romantic love can fall into three categories:
lust, attraction, and attachment accompanied by their own set of hormones stemming from the brain.
Phase one is usually ‘the honeymoon’ phase. It’s the phase when you begin to reveal parts of yourselves and get to know each other more. The phase where nature’s trick of falling in love showers you in oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin, testosterone, and estrogen and get us besotted. Oh you, mischevious hormones! What a trick to get humans to pick a mate in order for our species to carry on.
Usually, on this stage partners get to notice more the similarities rather than the differences between them. No wonder, we neglect the naysayers like George Bernard Shaw:
“When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part.”
Remember, the first root has just started to grow and take hold.
Reality Hits you
This is the stage when the differences between you two tend to weight more than during the first stage. It’s the time when you start giving more importance to such differences and whether it is worth to keep going any further.
The curtain of ‘blind love’ seems to get transparent and you see things more clearly. You start to see things as they are.
For many, this stage is an ‘intimidating’ stage where arguments start to show up more on stage and life is not all flowers, sunshine, and rainbows anymore. ‘Autumn of love’ starts to strike in, and all you do is hope there is no thunder, but light rain.
A stage when we should keep in mind that each of us has developed different traits throughout our lives, and having differences is nothing but normal and inevitable. After all, diversity is something we will encounter in everyday life, and we have to embrace it. I call it ‘the art of thinking independently together.’ Accepting each other’s flaws and finding perfection in imperfection.
Different poles attract each other, so yeah!
Phase 3 is where most of relationships and marriages are more prone to collapse. A phase where things start to hurt a little bit more, dissatisfaction mounts and you start to overthink. You start to get moody, get into arguments and wonder if this was the person you met at the beginning. The pieces of the love puzzle will seem to misfit their initial place. A lot of illusions begin to shatter and you see conflicts as unhealthy for your relationship.
There goes the phrase, ‘When you’re going through hell, don’t stop.’ This is the only stage you should not get intimidated and stop trying.
What helps a lot to go through this stage is to have a good understanding of each other’s fallibilities and communicate freely and openly about your own. This is that ‘down’ stage we talk and fear about. But you can make it!
If you managed to confront and handle Stage 3, one of the advantages is you achieve the core of the conflict.
A time when you start being allies with your partner throughout this journey called life. You help each other heal your wounds and go through each conflict and argument as a team. Stage 4 is like a falling action of all the disagreements between you two as a result of finally understanding and accepting your partner as they are.
This is a phase when you reflect the power of communication and realize the overestimated power of arguments and disagreements. You create a strong bond and a very emotionally intimate relation with your partner which is hard to be shaken.
Reach this stage and you can overcome any future conflicts.
Stage 5 unlocked!
With wars and conflicts happening out there in the world if we can’t find peace between two persons who love each other, how can we find peace in the world?
A stage where you have already learned to overcome differences and embrace each others’ flaws.
So, let us learn how to love the rose and live with its thorns! Cherish each moment and have in mind: There is always a way if you are committed.