Let's break down love into five stages: (1) attraction, (2) romance, (3) passion, (4) intimacy, & (5) commitment.
Stage 1. ATTRACTION
- a positive response to a person beyond friendship. This can further be broken down into two areas: (a) physical attraction & (b ) emotional attraction.
A. Physical Attraction - happens when your body reacts to another person. Heart rate increases; temperature rises, palms get sweaty; stomach flutters; throat tightens; etc. This is the most superficial of "loves" on one level, but one of the most powerful on another. It represents the first contact.
B. Emotional Attraction - develops next if the circumstances are right. After being drawn to a person physically, you then begin to converse. If you find you have things in common -- hobbies, ideologies, career, education, or some other common ground -- then an emotional attraction starts to form. An emotional attraction can also occur even when a physical attraction does not. And in this case, the bond may even be stronger between the two who connect, since no preconceived notions based on physical appearance has occurred
Stage 2. ROMANCE
- essentially an act of trying to influence or gain favor of another by lavishing attention or gifts upon them. There are two type of romance: (a) selfish romance & (b ) selfless romance.
(A ) Selfish Romance - occurs when you do romantic acts solely for the purpose of gaining something for yourself -- like to get gifts, to impress someone else, or even simply for sexual favors whether your partner is interested or not.
(B ) Selfless Romance - occurs when you do romantic acts for the enjoyment and pleasure of your partner. You receive your enjoyment and pleasure through their happiness.
Selfish romance (& love) will quickly die out. Selfless romance (& love) will endure. Because romance is an "act," many couples who have been together a long time take it for granted. With a conscious effort, it can be rekindled.
Stage 3. PASSION
- a desire for another person, which has grown to an intensity that can't be ignored. This is often where an emotional relationship turns into a physical relationship. The passion stage is very important. It's a plateau.
From here, the relationship will fork into two roads, and the couple must decide which path to take. The relationship will either burn itself out or will move onto the next stage.
Stage 4. INTIMACY
- a close association with another person of the deepest nature. You share you thoughts, your feelings, your dreams. In true intimacy, there is nothing that you cannot tell this person (though we often hesitate because of our own unfounded fears).
Intimacy is not total in one swoop. It is a developing process, which never ends. If you can't establish intimacy with your partner, your relationship may work for a while, but is unlikely to endure throughout the years.
Stage 5. COMMITMENT
- a pledge to remain true to your mate throughout good and bad times. Commitment is easy when times are good. Commitment can be extremely difficult when times are bad. Learn to ride out the bad times.
If you've made it this far, why give up? Listen to each other, be willing to compromise, and remember why you got together in the first place.