What is love?
If I asked you, would you be able to describe to me your own definition of love? Would you be able to draw me a visual representation of love?
To me, love is a divine, heavenly and beautiful feeling. Something completely out of this world. An inexplicable force within you that provides your soul, body, and heart with an immense energy.
An infinite source of energy that gives you the strength to move mountains just, so you could feel the presence, touch, and breath of another human being that somehow magically touched your heart.
Now, when it comes to relationships and romantic love, researchers have discovered that love has 4 crucial stages. We’ve all experienced these phases, but let’s review them in more detail:
1. THE “OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD ATTRACTION” STAGE
The essential moment when you have no clue what’s about to happen to you. That crucial minute where you sense their immense energy coming your way. That second when you finally see them across the room, realize that the life you once knew of is over. And something new is about to begin.
The more you look at them, the sweatier your palms are, the faster your heart beats, and the wider your pupils look. You catch yourself existing in a moment where time suddenly ceases to exist and there’s only you two, curiously looking at each other’s eyes.
However, this transcendental and ecstatic connection is not love. It is simply a powerful attraction. Some people tend to experience it on a physical level, as sexual attraction, and then there are others who are lucky enough to experience a spiritual attraction.
2. THE “DATING” STAGE
The second phase is what usually follows after those newly found feelings inside your heart strike you.
You are left with that intense emotion inside of you, that inexplicable desire to see that person once again. The connection you shared was something that could never be translated into words, so you become determined to reveal what’s really out there.
And so, the dating begins. During this phase, you get to know each other. You learn something new about each other every single time you go out. And naturally, based on all the information you collect, your brain determines if this is the person you’d like to fall in love with.
Once you begin to date, your body starts producing different hormones, such as dopamine, oxytocin, testosterone, vasopressin.
Dopamine is produced both in man and women and signifies an excitement about being in love. Oxytocin in women is usually released as she begins to trust her partner.
While on the other hand, vasopressin and testosterone are released in men as they kiss, cuddle and think about getting sexual with their partner.
3. THE “FALLING IN LOVE” STAGE
And once, these hormones begin skyrocketing like crazy, you reach the third stage. The “falling in love” phase.
In this phase, people tend to be overwhelmed with inexplicable and beautiful feelings, and as a result, most of us find it hard to sleep or eat. We blame it on the butterflies in our stomach.
Also, in this phase, the hormone for happiness decreases in its activity. This is kind of illogical when you think about since most people during this period said that they’ve felt happy and fulfilled.
The reason for it is because the amygdala (the part of your brain that usually informs us when our happiness is low) actually deactivates.
And if that isn’t interesting enough… researchers have discovered that in this phase the part of your brain that usually judges yourself and others also deactivates.
During this stage, you are high up on 7th heaven and fail to observe who your partner truly is. Unfortunately, this is the last stage for many couples. The cloudiness in our judgment triggered by our infatuation usually leads us to break-ups.
However, there are some who are lucky enough to move to the next stage.
4. THE “TRUE LOVE/STABILITY” STAGE
In this stage the partners who stay together experience stability.
The fiery emotions and magical butterflies in our tummies are usually gone, but now we have something that matters even more.
True love. A person who knows our soul more then we understand ourselves.
It feels like the entire neurological excitement is finally settled down. It is calm, but it is perfect. We see the flaws and quirks in our partner, but we choose to accept them.
Because in this phase, everything that was unavailable to us, is now out in the open. Our hormones are quiet. And our critical, logical and rational judgment is back.
Couples who choose to stay together are usually people who’ve seen the best in each other and accepted each other’s past. Even though their critical judgment is back they tend to focus on the positive and appreciate the once-in-a-lifetime connection they share.
Most importantly, this is a phase that goes beyond a simple attraction. It’s known a higher love. A realm that can be experienced only with an evolved brain.