Relationships are full of twists and turns. No two relationships are the same, but after you’ve been in a few you may start to notice some trends. Longtime marriage and family counselor Jed Diamond noticed this and sought to develop a road map showing what he believes the five stages of love are. It’s worth noting that with this model, the path to lasting love has a few pitfalls along the way — so partners will need to weather the storm during the bad times in order to get to the great times.
First stage: Falling in love
When it comes to love, falling in love is the obvious first step. During this process, you’ll feel a real natural high as your body fills with feel-good hormones like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin.
In the early days of a relationship, it’s easy to think the world of your new partner.
You don’t know them well enough to see flaws, so you may project your idea of perfection onto them.
At this stage, there’s no reason to believe you’ll ever fall out of love with this person.
Second stage: Becoming a couple
The euphoria is still there, but you’re settling into becoming a couple. If stage one is the Romeo and Juliet phase, stage two is the functional adults phase.
This is the stage where many couples choose to move in and have kids.
More importantly, you develop a sense of couplehood—where you’re one cohesive unit rather than two people.
The love is still there, but it’s a comfortable kind of love. After settling into this phase, many couples think it will stay this way forever.
Third stage: Disillusionment
Relationships can be a rocky road, and this is where things start to get tough.
Diamond cautions that this stage can be the beginning of the end for many couples…
It’s the stage where they start to grow irritated with each other and notice the other’s flaws.
At this stage, the bloom has definitely worn off.
You may long for the puppy love you had in the first stage, or the loving comfort you had in the second.
It seems like the special love you once had is gone forever. It’s a very difficult storm to weather.
Fourth stage: Creating real, lasting love
After confronting the ugly realities of a long-term relationship in the previous step, you can start the healing process.
Here is where the self-examination truly begins, as both partners think about what has happened in their lives to lead up to this point.
With this maturity and introspection, you can start to help heal your wounds, as well as your partner’s.
At this point, you and your partner know and understand each other extremely well.
You start to realize that they may be “the one” after all.
Fifth stage: Using the power of two to change the world
Step four helped get your relationship on a strong footing again.
It’s good to change the world for the better, but the real benefit here is finding something that you and your partner can pour your passion into.
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