Love! Ain’t it grand! In each stage of love, there are positives and negatives. Yet, despite the negatives, people continue to try and get it right, make their love last, with the hope of creating and maintaining a healthy relationship. All this while understanding, accepting, and honoring individual differences. Dynamic and ever changing, relationshipspresent people with some of life’s greatest challenges.
The Romantic Stage. This first stage of love lasts from two months to two years. Think champagne and rose colored glasses! A common word used to describe your loved one – “perfect”. The feel good neurotransmitters that are fired off at a rapid rate, during this stage of love, go to the same place in our brain as drugs do – increasing attention and focus, obsessiveness, a strong and powerful desire to be with our new love, and thinking of nothing else. It’s difficult to get any work done. We are high on love! All is wonderful in your world. You think, “Where have you been all my life?” There is a great emphasis on similarities and “sameness”. “You like to bike? That’s great! I love to bike, too!” Even differences between the two are viewed as strengths. You think – who wants to be the same anyway? Boring!
The downside? You might have neglected other relationships in your life to spend time with your new partner – sometimes to excess. An overly enmeshed relationship prevents maintenance of your own identity and for some, codependency. Boredom may occur if you realize that beyond the initial feelings of lust, there are no common interests.
Then, after months of going full speed at 80 mph, there is a shift. It feels like you have hit the brakes and have come to a screaching halt! The drugs have worn off! You are no longer high on love! You have moved into the Power Struggle Stage.
Power Struggle Stage. The rose colored glasses have become a little less “rose colored” and more clear. The illusion that romantic love will last forever disspates and is replaced with anger and disappointment. This is a challenging times for couples. There is a shift in focus from your similarities to your differences. Behaviors that were once “cute” have become little annoyances. Sometimes we try to change the person back to what we thought they were or created them to be in our own mind. Arguments or disagreements may increase and miscommunication occurs due to different communication styles. Clarity in communication is vital at this stage as this will determine if the relationship can survive.
Some couples don’t survive this stage and break up. To prevent this, importance is placed on accepting and appreciating your differences, learning to share power, relinquishing your fantasies of constant harmony, and recognizing the strengths of your relationship. Clear boundaries are reinforced and mutual respect is prevalent. The relationship becomes more realistic, rather than idealized and a “fantasy.”
Read more on the stage of love at YourTango.com