4 Stages of Relationships (BEWARE of Stage 3)

article-201341199262333983000Oh yes you do! You want it! You want that Rick James…that funk, that sweet, that funky stuff. Or, if you’re a little younger, you want that funk, that sweet, that nasty, that gooshy stuff, a la Jay Z.

But then you look at the person you’re with…and be like, “I’m tired. Gotta get up early tomorrow. Maybe next weekend.” And it’s Sunday night.

Both husbands and wives can relate to this. The wife doesn’t feel like being a mechanism for her man’s orgasm, while she gets no attention, affection, or consideration for her needs. And the husband is like, “Oh…Lawd! She’s been complaining about everything…and nothing…all darn day. She’s got that ‘don’t even try it’ look on her face. I wonder what’s going to be the excuse tonight. Plus, she’s wearing that…to bed!”

But for real though…what happened? Why do relationships start out with that sweet, that nasty, that gooshy stuff…then reduce down to just…stuff?

Let me introduce you to what Dr. Wendy Walsh calls the 4 Stages of Love. I think a better name is the 4 Stages of Relationships. Because these stages chronicle the 4 stages a couple goes through in their relationship.

1. Sexual Attraction

The Sexual Attraction stage is when your body has a biological response to the sight, sound, and smell of another person. This kind of attraction releases a bunch of chemicals and signals in your brain like dopamine and serotonin. This is what makes your palms sweaty, your face blush, your heart race, puts butterflies in your stomach, and makes your penis erect. These chemicals give you a ‘love high’ …like the drug heroin…and makes you do crazy stupid stuff. That’s because they stimulate the same part of the brain responsible for drug addiction and obsessive compulsive behaviors. Basically, you get exposed to that sweet, that nasty, that gooshy stuff…and you love it! Now…you hooked, you sprung, you whipped, you’re nose is open…all that. And you can’t help it.

2. Romantic Love

Just like drug addiction, your body eventually gets use to the high (so I’m told). It then creates a different kind of ‘chronic’ to get high on. As the relationship continues, your body produces oxytocin and endorphins, which gives you a sense of peace and security about your relationship. These self deluding chemicals draw your attention and focus on all the good things about the person and not the bad. You see all their irritating attributes as ‘adorable’. This is when you start thinking, “OH-MY-GUUUDNESS, I think he’s my soul mate,” or “Fa-real-doe, I think she might be ‘the one’.”

3. Intellectual Decision

As the oxytocin-high wears off, you enter the Intellectual Decision stage of relationships. The sobriety you now have about who your mate really is gives you a different perspective from the previous stages. You now see your mate’s flaws on full display. And you have to make an intellectual decision whether to accept your mate and his/her flaws or not. Those who decide to stay do so by acknowledging the flaws, but holding on to the positive things that attracted you to him/her in the first place. This is the most difficult part of relationships because it requires the most sacrifice and compromise. The close-quarter combat generally experienced in this stage reveals hidden flaws about how your mate deals with problems and handles stress. Hidden flaws…that would’ve been deal breakers had you known about them…or at least would’ve made you pump-the-breaks harder before taking your relationship to the next level.

4. Mature Companionship

The Mature Companionship stage is part habit and part comfort. It’s all about sharing your lives together. You’ve made it past the Intellectual Decision stage and you have resolved to accept your mate, flaws and all, and stick it out.

Those in the Sexual Attraction and Romantic stages probably think they’ll be in these stages forever…and coast smoothly into the Mature Companionship Stage still high on the dopamine and oxytocin. But know…the high wears off when the realities of life, work, household responsibilities, children, and just regular ole relationship-stuff reveals character flaws…in you and your mate. That’s when that sweet, that nasty, that gooshy stuff turns into that irritating, that frustrating, that stupid stuff.

In some relationships this reveal happens sooner than later. Some relationships don’t make it past the Intellectual Decision stage. They get divorced. Or they break off the engagement. Or the baby’s mother takes the kids, moves out, and decides to raise the children alone, without his involvement (that’s another topic… but it happens).



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