Tag Archives: Five Stages of Love

Love as Attachment

Part 4 of 5 How to Win At Love – in Five Easy Stages

STAGE  #4 ATTACHMENT ~ work, house, debt, kids, pets, oh – and love…

By now in Stage 4 , in Dr. Helen Fisher’s  terms, you’ve formed an attachment. A stage of calm, companionable love, the sort we see all around us with  birds and  bees well, – mammals actually – and it looks like you’d imagine:

  • Building your nest together
  • Defending your nest together
  • Sharing parental chores
  • Sharing home-making chores
  • Bringing home the bacon
  • Missing one another when you are apart
  • Finding security in one another’s love
  • Feeling calm and comforted in the knowledge of your partnership
  • Feeling a sense of belonging.

All these rewarding behaviours are promoted in your brain by the release of two hormones in particular – oxytocin (yup, the same hormone that floods new Mums also promotes trust and satisfying sex) and vasopressin (increasingly associated with positive social behaviour, sexual motivation and coping with parenting stress). These evolutionary aides exist to help people stay together long enough to effectively birth, raise and educate their utterly helpless human young.

While each stage has its challenges, this one’s tough. Most divorces occur here with an up-tick at 3 years (when couples have that first baby), at seven years (kids and boredom) and again at 12 or 13 years (more kids, more boredom?). It is terrifically hard to prioritize your relationship when all about you are impending domestic, physical or financial emergencies.

What to do?

Savour the moments you can!

Whether or not you have kids and pets, you are right slap dash in the middle of life and busy days speed by all the faster.  Try these ~

TIP 1 ~ Do one thing each day for you.  Self-care in all things is not only a sensible way to go into your hectic, giving, caring, other-centered days, but it is actually a very thoughtful gesture. No one wants to live with a depleted martyr. Whatever replenishes your spirit each day – commit to it. A run; yoga; a hot bath and candles; a gym workout; writing for 30 minutes; 10 minutes of meditation. Try it!

TIP 2 ~ Do one thing a day for your partner. Remember who you are doing all this nesting and attachment loving with? A warm “Welcome Home” hug; a text or two at work; picking up his/her library book or dry cleaning; choosing his/her favourite wine or beer for dinner; a neck rub over the evening news; a five minute snuggle after the alarm goes off at 6:00am.

TIP 3 ~ Do one thing a week for your relationship. Ask yourselves “What can WE do together for US?” As a couple, what brings you closer? Can you plan an adventure? Invite friends over? Start a book or movie club? Take up Tango? Commit to boot camp as a team? Set compellingly exciting financial goals? Sponsor a worthy cause together?

Love as Power Play

Part 3 of 5 How to Win At Love – in Five Easy Stages

STAGE  #3 POWER STRUGGLES ~ your “Perfect One’s” imperfect?

Well gol darn, who replaced your sweetie with this demanding, bossy, opinionated, selfish, hard fighting or painfully aloof creature who looks unnaturally like your beloved?

Not quite “buyers remorse” but akin to it, this next stage is the rude awakening that befalls all lovers as their self-inflicted chemical high wears off a bit and they begin to see one another without the rose-tinted specs.

You need this stage – you really do! The reason you and your sweetie have seemed like paragons to one another is probably because you were on your best behaviour, and the few little slip-ups were written off as exceptions to the my-partner-is-perfect myth you’ve been living with. But you’ll be hard pushed to be on your best behaviour for years. At some level your ego knows this too and pops out from behind the “best-behaviour” mask to seek an answer to the increasingly pressing question:

  • “Will you love me as I really am? Warts and all?”

Now is when compromises stop and you begin to fight for what you really want. She’ll stop cheering at the games she swore she loved attending; he’ll swing by the pub for a few with his mates on Friday evening; she’ll share her day first with her mum and social media “besties” and be on-line when he gets home; his “slight” interest in World of Warcraft will revert to the obsession it was; her adorable wardrobe which looked terrific on her won’t look so good covering the floor of their shared space; his inability to see a filthy floor won’t seem so cute either. And so on. This is the gloves-off stage when you start to hammer out what you each need and want on the home front.

What to do?

Speak up!

This phase lasts as long as it’s needed so the sooner you are willing to talk to one another right as issues present themselves, the more likely you are to move through this stage to the next – which feel less like a body-slam and more like a Reel.


TIP 1 ~ Speak up for what really matters to you. Seemingly little issues – how long to read in bed, tidiness preferences, food, money, hobbies, time with friends and relatives – are what make up your days. Can you talk to one another about what you want, even if you end up disagreeing about some of these?

TIP 2 ~ Unite Against Your Differences You’ll never agree on everything. Instead unite with one another against the impossibility of 100% agreement. “It’s a shame we can’t be with both families this Christmas isn’t it.”  (More about this in a future Blog).

TIP 3 ~ Notice What IS Working. For all you notice your differences, don’t forget to highlight what you love about one another. Remember – that which you focus upon expands.

Love as Romance

Part 2 of 5 How to Win At Love – in Five Easy Stages

STAGE  #2 ROMANTIC LOVE ~ you’ve found “The Perfect One”

Lust (Stage 1 – see yesterday’s post) has its place to get you up and out of your comfy zone and into the daunting domain of dating, but it can take you only so far – right?  A few too many maddening mismatches, beastly blind dates and embarrassing evenings and you’ll either give up dating for a while to lick your wounds, or you’ll fall madly for The One.

Finally you’ll meet someone who is utterly unlike all the others. Everything about this person is perfect. Her smile, his eyes; her moves, his laugh; her wit, his jokes. You’ve found your soul mate; the one whose existence makes the sun brighter and the moon more mysterious. Think Romeo to your Juliet (or visa versa).

As much as this feeling of love brings out your most noble self, it too is simply a function of our evolutionary journey, according to Dr. Helen Fisher.  While lust and attraction get you looking for sex with anyone remotely appropriate, fueled by androgens and estrogens, this second stage of Romantic Attraction washes you in a different chemical bath. Now you become drunk on a heady mix of dopamine, testosterone, norepinephrine  and endorphins. You become obsessed by an intense craving for your beloved and typically enjoy more energy, an upbeat mood, and a sense that you and your beloved can take on the world together.

What to do?

Enjoy it!

This phase only lasts from 2 to 24 months and is the shortest (and most intense) of the five stages of love. The goal of this stage of your love relationship is to build the fire so bright and so hot that it’s warmth will see you through the rougher stages to come.

How to win at ROMANTIC LOVE?

TIP 1 ~ Be romantic. Recognize this stage for what it is and give yourselves fully over to it. Take those adventures overseas together. Be a little bit wild and crazy. Open up to new ways of appreciating being alive. Read aloud, dance, play, skip, swim naked, cook together, visit the zoo, take risks. Listen – you are children in the garden of delight so please – go for it!

TIP 2 ~ Avoid responsibilities. In an ideal world, don’t take on a family or mortgage too soon – they can kill romantic love so fast. Sure, second marriages sort of “come with” the family and mortgage stage, so work hard to carve out some play time for yourselves before signing your beloved onto your mortgage papers or having your sweetie discipline your kids.

TIP 3 ~ Dream a little. Plant some seeds for the future. Set goals, create Bucket Lists. Discuss what excites you about tomorrow. When the chemicals wear off, you’ll be glad of some solid ground upon which to stand, together.