Do you believe in love at first sight? Just yesterday, a friend of mine told me that she’s fallen in love with someone she met 2 days ago. And according to her, it was a love at first sight. An instant recognition of souls.
Well, if you are like me, you probably know that the thing my friend is feeling is not love. It is an attraction. And it is the first stage out of the four stages of love that are confirmed by neuroscientists. Let’s look at them in more depth.
First Stage: ATTRACTION
Heart beating fast, palms sweating, dry mouth, dilated pupils, a tension that you feel in your whole body – I am sure all of you are familiar with these feeling. It is your body’s response to the instant chemistry that you are feeling when you meet someone who attracts you. There is physical and sexual attraction also. But it is not real love.
Second Stage: DATING
This is the stage when both partners who are attracted to one another try to figure out if they are in love with each other and if they can function in a relationship together. During this stage, the brain releases various hormones like oxytocin, testosterone, and dopamine which are connected with forming excitement, trust, and connection.
Women release oxytocin when they begin to trust their partner, and men release testosterone while they are kissing and cuddling with her or in other words when they begin thinking about being sexually intimate with her. These feelings can build up to one tipping point that we call falling in love.
Third Stage: FALLING IN LOVE
This is a stage where your hormones go skyrocket. This is probably the reason why many people have difficulties eating or sleeping during this period. And even though the hormones of happiness decrease during this time – you feel immensely happy. That’s because the amygdala (the alarm which is activated when you are under stress) is deactivated.
Therefore, regardless of the high levels of anxiety and your low levels of happiness – you don’t feel that way because the part of your brain that tells you what you feel is on vacation. Moreover, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex which makes judgments is deactivated as well. Perhaps now you understand the saying “love is blind.”
During this stage, you are blinded. You don’t see your lover clearly. You don’t see their faults. Luckily this phrase is temporary. That’s why when it’s finished many couples break up and only few move to the final stage.
Fourth Stage: TRUE LOVE
This is the stage when you gain stability. When your emotions are in control. However, during this stage brain scans have shown an overly increased neural activity and a return of the critical judgment.
And couples who manage to stay together during all these phrases have one thing in common and that is the ability to focus on the positive aspects of their relationship and leave the judgment aside.
This final stage is all about trust, understanding, compassion, and unconditional love.