Love, just like our own growth, evolves and matures over time.
There is the honeymoon stage.
This is the stage where everything seems perfect, carefree, and fun.
You’re infatuated and smitten, and everything seems and feels perfect.
When many people think about ‘falling in love’, this is the stage that they are thinking about.
When I consider the beginning stages of love I cannot help but think of my daughter as a preschooler.
Every day when I dropped her off there would be tears of genuine angst and horror at the thought of me leaving her and every day when I went to pick her up she would be watching for me at the window, waiting to run and leap into my arms.
This love was precious.
It doesn’t look like this anymore.
Just like romantic love, it’s evolved and grown.
The high we experience in these early phases of romantic love is the result of chemicals in our brain – primarily dopamine.
This romantic ooey-gooey love is mostly subconscious due to a chemical reaction.
As dopamine levels return to normal, oxytocin and vasopressin increase (these are the hormones associated with long-term attachment and comfort); we enter into the passionate stage.
This is when the blinders come off and we start to notice all those things about our partner that annoy us.
They chew too loud, talk too much, fold their towels the wrong way, and put the toilet roll on backward.
Most of the time these things were there all along, but maybe we didn’t see them due to the excitement of the honeymoon phase.
Now we are aware of everything, and this is when we experience our first major conflicts and we start to ask ourselves if this is someone we want to envision our future with.
I see this as the prepubescent stage of love.
It’s awkward, uncomfortable, and swivels rapidly from emotion to emotion.
Many relationships suffer their demise during this stage.
Growing pains are substantial, and it is often over the course of this stage that the navigation of the first crisis occurs.
It’s an inevitable part of relationships, that there will be some sort of crisis along the way and conflicts that will require successful resolution.
Crossing the finish line successfully together has the potential to bring couples together in a powerful and meaningful way.
And, finally, a mature companionable love arrives when you see and accept your partner as who they really are.
Many of those in the early throws of romance look forward to the comfort, calm, and – what appears to be – ease of mature companionable love.
In the early stages, there is excitement, allure, pull, and intoxication but there is also often uncertainty and anxiety due to the fact that you don’t yet really know one another.
Maturity in love means that you know one another well.
You have a shared history of ups and downs, inside jokes, and have perhaps even had the opportunity to watch one another grow and change, evolving both individually and together over the course of your relationship.
Love is meant to evolve, to grow, and to change of the course of the relationship.
Relationships are not meant to stay in just one of these stages for the entirety of the relationship, though these stages last varying lengths for different people.
Can you imagine being in just one stage of maturity for the entirety of your life?
Each stage is meant to be savored and enjoyed, and built upon the bones of its predecessor.
This will be a stage of staying in love.
A love based much less on the highs and lows of passion, and instead based on stable affection, mutual understanding, and commitment.
This is a love built on familiarity and not a subconscious chemical reaction.
Your Trusted Friend ❤︎