Currently there are many theories which try to explain a concept as abstract and complicated as love. This is as a consequence of the great amount of experiences that people have in front of love. That is, two people will not live love in the same way and even the same person can live love completely differently with one person and with another.
However, throughout this Bigmatrimonial post, we will draw on Stemberg’s triangular theory of love and the phases defined by psychologist Jed Diamond to explain the 5 stages of love and their duration.
Initially it remains to define the concept of love from a psychological point of view. The American Psychological Association describes this term as a complex emotion that involves strong feelings of affection and tenderness for the love object, pleasurable sensations in its presence, devotion to its well-being, and sensitivity to its reactions to oneself.
Premises of Stemberg’s triangular theory
Table of Contents
- Premises of Stemberg’s triangular theory
- The stages of love explained by neuroscience
- Phases of infatuation
- The 5 stages of love as a couple
This theory starts from the idea that love is created from the interaction of three components and that it is the degree to which each one is possessed that determines the type of love that is going to be experienced. These three components to know are:
- Intimacy : feelings of closeness, connection and bonding, which give rise to the experience of heat in a loving relationship.
- Passion : impulses that give rise to romance and physical attraction.
- Commitment : decision that you love someone and that you want to keep that love. This component includes those cognitive elements involved in making decisions about the long-term commitment of a relationship.
Here you will find the 7 types of couple love that arise when combining the 3 components.
The stages of love explained by neuroscience
From the neuroscientific point of view, the existence of 4 different stages within love relationships has been determined:
Within this first stage, people feel the need to always be close to each other, they do not want to stop seeing each other at any time. They experience a series of pleasant physiological changes in the presence of the other person, such as an increase in the heart rate, the dilation of the pupils, increased sweating. These responses are chemical calls and help the person experiencing them realize the connection that is being created with the other person.
However, it cannot be considered love as such, since it is practically based on a physical and sexual attraction . From Stemberg’s point of view, the two concepts that are most interrelated in this phase are Intimacy and Passion.
During this stage, the members of the new relationship try to determine if they like the other person in such a way that they can fall in love. It is here when a series of chemical changes take place in the levels of dopamine, oxytocin, vasopressin and sex hormones, which further increase the sensations experienced during attraction. These changes work as indicators to continue with the other person, as they are signs that they begin to fall in love.
Many people consider that the true relationship with a person has its beginning in this stage and that the previous two act as independent phases. However, the researchers consider that without the experience of these two previous ones, you cannot reach the infatuation phase.
Regarding this, people tend to experience an increase in their stress, even having difficulty sleeping. But, in turn, it is the stage in which the happiest members of the couple are, because, although the “happiness hormone” decreases, the part of the brain that regulates it is deactivated, so we are not aware of that decrease.
4. True love
It is the last of the stages of love. During it, the body enters a state of stability and the person’s judgment returns, making it the phase where the most ruptures occur. This is as a result of which both members of the couple begin to know the defects of the other and make a balance between the good and the bad.
If couples manage to overcome these differences, it is when they decide to focus on the benefits of sharing a life together. Based on Stemberg’s theory, we could indicate that it is in this phase that the perfect balance is created between the three components of the pyramid.
Phases of infatuation
According to Mora (2007), infatuation is the state of a person dominated by a lively feeling towards another, whom he considers to be his greatest good, with whom he wishes to be united forever and for which he would sacrifice, if necessary his own lifetime.
Within the infatuation we find that it can be divided into a series of phases, which, as you can see, are closely linked to the previously named stages in love, since without them this final feeling would not be able to develop.
- 1st Phase. Sexual attraction . It is the one that initiates the whole process, it could be said that it is what in more informal terms we call “liking”.
- 2nd Phase. Hypervaluation . All the good qualities that we see will be projected onto the liked person. It is in the phase where we idealize the person that attracts us.
- 3rd Phase. Appropriation of the other . During this phase the person begins to be aware of the possibility of making the other person their own, that is, of being able to incorporate it into their life. It is about checking if the attraction for the other is reciprocated towards her own person.
- 4th Phase. Reciprocity in infatuation . It is a phase in which both parties feel great happiness, since their infatuation has been reciprocated. During this, the members begin to get to know each other and share both past, present and future experiences.
- 5th Phase. End of infatuation . The feeling of passion and purely physical attraction begins to decline, as does the idealization towards the other member of the couple. They begin to recognize the defects and deficiencies of the other. Throughout this stage, the greatest number of ruptures occur, as each member of the couple stops preferentially dealing with the other to pay attention to other matters.
The 5 stages of love as a couple
As we have indicated before, we will draw on the phases described by the psychologist Jed Diamond to explain the journey of a couple throughout their love. The 5 phases that a couple goes through:
1. Falling in love
The first phase of love is in which people experience all emotions in an extremely intense way as a result of the release of neurotransmitters and hormones by our body. The couple is in what is called the “happily ever after” stage, since they consider that there is nothing and no one who is going to be able to separate them. Here you will find detailed chemistry of love.
2. Start of the relationship
The second phase can be considered the love stage as such, where the two members of the relationship know both the positive and the negative things of their partner. Certain responsibilities and commitments are acquired by both of them.
The members of the couple create in their minds a balance with the deficiencies and imperfections and with the positive of the other person. It is in the phase where more couples fail, because in these cases the balance has not been able to be compensated and the imperfections become incompatible with what the person wants from her partner.
4. Overcoming the crisis and real love
The fourth stage of love as a couple is the moment when you can overcome differences and build a more stable relationship. The idealization of the couple has already been completely eliminated.
5. Connection and future plan
At this stage, the couple uses their potential to change the world, a deep connection is created between both members, where they begin to define future purposes together.
How long do the stages of love last?
Each person is a world and if we bring two people together it is even more so. For this reason we cannot specify in a 100% concrete way the duration of each of the stages of love. But, yes we can make an approximation as seen in numerous studies of couples and studies of love.
- Infatuation : it is considered that it can last from two to three months to one or two years , however, it cannot extend much more than this period.
- Start of relationship and disappointment : these two phases are united when it comes to indicating their duration, since again it depends on each couple, since some need more time to open up to the other, so it will take longer to show their imperfections. It is considered to last from one to four years , so it is not surprising that most divorces take place in the fourth year of marriage.
- Overcoming the crisis, real love and future plan: these stages of overcoming and “tranquility” in the relationship are said to have a duration of at least ten years, after which you can either continue in this last phase, or restart the cycle of the stages of love.
This article is merely informative, in Bigmatrimonial we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.