Love-a word easily tossed around like football and ever so often misused. But what is it, really?
How does it change over time? Is love simply chemistry or does it evolve to something deeper? No one fully knows the answer to that.
Psychologists suggest that love unfolds in five different stages. This framework was proposed by Professor Arthur Aron, and designed to map the journey from butterflies in the stomach to, well, who knows? The outcome is mostly unpredictable.
Stage 1: Infatuation
This is the "honeymoon phase," where you're head over heels in love with your special someone. You're obsessed with their smile, their laugh, their very existence. It's intense, exciting, and...temporary.
Sadly, this feeling, fueled by hormones like dopamine and oxytocin, making you feel as high as a stoner, never lasts. Butterflies can't fly forever.
Stage 2: Intimacy
As the initial frenzy settles, we enter stage two - intimacy. This is where you get to know each other, flaws and all. You share secrets, dreams, fears, and vulnerabilities. You slowly build a foundation of trust and understanding; like a safe space.
As the intense passion of early romance subsides, you develop a deeper connection with your partner; a feeling of strong attachment and contentment. The sex might not be as wild, but it's deeply satisfying.
Stage 3: Disillusionment
This is the phase where we begin to see things as they truly are. Our temporary colour blindness to those glaring red flags finally clears off.
You might be faced with different opinions, habits, or even dealbreakers. The rose-coloured glasses come off, and we see each other clearly.
It is a bumpy phase, and sadly, many relationships never make it past this third stage.
Stage 4: Commitment
If your love survives stage three, congratulations! You've survived the storm and entered the fourth stage - commitment.
This stage is about choosing each other and building a future together. You're weathering a storm and emerging stronger, knowing you can face anything as a team. You stand by each other through thick and thin and pick each other up when you fall. It's about "we," not just "me" and "you." You both decided to make it work, and it worked.
Stage 5: Companionship
Remember those butterflies you felt in stage one? They might return, but in a different form. This new phase is both a comfortable and fulfilling one. It's a quiet assurance that your partner is your rock, your confidante and best friend. You understand each other, respect each other, and simply enjoy being together. Not many couples reach this phase, but those who do are the ones who patiently and consciously work on their relationship.