Love grows and changes. The heady emotional brew that brings couples together in the first place is very different from the love that emerges five or fifteen years down the road. Love relationships go through three stages. All are important and none can be circumvented if love is to flourish.
Lust is driven by the sex hormones testosterone and oestrogen. Testosterone is not confined only to men. It has also been shown to play a major role in the sex drive of women. These hormones as Helen Fisher says “get you out looking for anything”.
This is the truly love-struck phase. When people fall in love they can think of nothing else. They might even lose their appetite and need less sleep, preferring to spend hours at a time daydreaming about their new lover. Attraction can be defined as something, which is more than friendship and is a step towards getting ready for a relationship. Now attraction is of two types:
This is what takes over after the attraction stage, if a relationship is going to last. People couldn’t possibly stay in the attraction stage forever, otherwise they’d never get any work done!
- A relationship cannot remain in the infatuation stage indefinitely. The ebbing of romantic love should not be construed as a signal that you are in the wrong relationship or have a serious problem. Romantic love is not mature love.
- Dissatisfaction occurs in a relationship when the infatuation wears off and disillusionment sets in. You and your partner are now ready to blend personalities and learn to live together in true partnership. Areas of friction indicate problems that need to be solved.
- You can only change yourself in a relationship.Changing your partner must never be the goal. Put your focus where you have control: on yourself, your behavior, and your communication patterns. Healing your past, building self-esteem, dealing with feelings, and speaking from your own experience will eventually impact your partner, creating new patterns of relating.
- Conflict is inevitable. Whenever two people get together, eventually some of the belief systems and personal habits of one will annoy the other, regardless of how much love there is. In healthy relationships couples learn how to resolve conflict.
- Confrontation is normal and healthy. The sooner you bring up issues when you feel hurt, taken advantage of, irritated, misunderstood, or ignored, the better for the relationship. Suppressing them keeps you a victim and only leads to hostility and feelings of separateness.
- Good communication tools can help you and your partner to solve problems, resolve conflicts and process emotional upsets. With good communication, you can almost always navigate your way to a more fulfilling relationship.