Have you ever wondered why the movies and sitcoms have the same old formula – the repetitive plot where the girl meets a boy, they fall in love, and then the trouble starts? Are these the universally agreed upon stages of love? Well, there might be some truth in that age-old formula. Almost all relationships have a natural progression, and this progression is marked by different stages at different points of time. How successful or unsuccessful your relationship is depends on how you handle or react to these stages. In order to make everyone’s love-life a little easier, we have decided to discuss these stages in detail so that you can have ready-made pointers if you ever need them. Let’s have a look at these.
1. When You Fall In Love
This is the first stage of a relationship, actually, you can call it ground zero. Till now, both the parties have had limited interactions with each other. These limited interactions give way to feelings of love that start making their way into the hearts of both the parties. Soon, your days and nights begin to revolve around your partner. You are ready to ditch friends, ignore work commitments, all for a single chance to meet your lover. You become low-key obsessed with your partner; according to you, they can do no wrong. Flames of passion run high; you leave no stone unturned to spend some intimate moments with your partner. If you are recalling similar times in your relationships and wondering how do we know this, well we know this because it is proven by science (1). Scientists call this phase “limerence”. They have likened the effects of this stage with the effects of drugs like amphetamines and according to them, the culprit is our hormones. As fun as it sounds, this stage soon gives way to the next stage which is when the rose-tinted glasses come off.
2. When The Reality Sets In
Do you recall that stage when you stopped thinking of your partner as your prince charming or as your damsel in distress? When their phone calls and messages were no longer sweet reminders of their love rather annoying distractions? If you answered yes to these questions, then you have definitely witnessed this stage. Don’t worry, this is not an indicator of you falling out of love, it is just that the initial high has now worn off. Now, you see your partner for what they are. Those cute little flaws that you adored earlier seem like alarming red flags now. Their carefree attitude now seems laidback, their daring nature now seems dangerous. Your brain seems to struggle with these contradictions while your heart still yearns for their love.
3. When Everything Seems Wrong
Next in the timeline is the disappointment stage. If the previous stage brought you back to earth from your castle in clouds, this one seems to push you further in the depths of hell. Suddenly, you find yourself getting angry at the slightest provocation. You feel your needs are not being met by your partner. Those sweet nothings that you used to whisper in each other’s ears are replaced by loud arguments. It seems like the relationship has reached its breaking point. It is common for one to feel indifferent towards one’s partner in this stage of the relationship. This stage occurs because till now you were existing in a cocoon with your partner, happily cut-off from the rest of the world and now you no longer feel content in this cocoon. This stage often acts as a make-or-break point in a relationship.
4. When It Feels Like Home
Once you have managed to weather the storms in your relationship and finally connect with the outside world, you reach this stage. This stage introduces a sense of normalcy in your life, you start seeing things from different perspectives. You meet your friends, you are focussed on your work. All your social needs are being met. Now you realize how unjust you were with your partner. You try to understand things from their perspective. You realize that they are not perfect but then, neither are you. And with this understanding, peace and love again returns to your relationship.
5. The Happily Ever After
If you are one of those lucky mortals who has already witnessed the four stages that we discussed, then my friend, you are in for good news. The fifth and final stage in your journey is the c-word – commitment. If you have managed to reach this stage, then it is great because now you realize that you were in it for the long haul. All those fights, arguments, doubts were nothing but temporary obstacles in your grand love story. Once you reach this stage, your love becomes the strong foundation that binds you as a couple. You feel ready to take on the world as a team. Now, whether you choose to express this commitment in bonds of holy matrimony or take the modern live-in route, that depends on you.
Contrary to popular depictions, falling in love doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a happily-ever-after. Like all good things in life, love also doesn’t come easy. You have to work for it. Rest assured that if you are willing to adjust and work your way through your feelings, it is likely that you would have a lasting relationship.
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