What are the stages of love in life?

Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee
President, Heart Care Foundation of India
National Vice President Elect IMA

Euphoria, reaction, adjustment and liking are the four fundamental phases of any relationship

When a man gets engaged to a girl, both go through a phase of euphoria where they can talk to each other for hours. This phase may last for six months or may extend to three years. The next phase is that of reaction and disagreeing on small issues. This phase ends with the phase of adjustment after a variable period of time depending on the family counseling available. These two phases may last up to seven years. The last phase in any relationship is the phase of attachment or liking, or the phase of real spiritual love with liking for each other.

The first euphoric phase of love is called infatuation. It starts when two persons are attracted to each other, and is due to the release of adrenaline-like neurochemicals such as phenylethylamine, dopamine, norepinephrine and oxytocin. Phenylethylamine is a chemical that speeds up the flow of information between nerve cells. Dopamine makes the two people feel good and norepinephrine stimulates the production of adrenaline, which causes the heart to beat faster. These three chemicals also make one feel euphoric, energized, as if one is floating on air, and can make the couple talk all night long. Chocolate is rich in phenylethylamine, a chemical cousin of amphetamine, and that is one reason why it is often used by new lovers. The last chemical oxytocin is the cuddling chemical which makes women and men calmer and more sensitive to the feelings of others. It plays an important role in romantic love as a sexual arousal hormone that signals orgasm.

The final stage of a relationship usually begins after seven years and is the stage of attachment. The chemicals involve in this are endorphins. These morphine-like opiates calm and reassure with intimacy, dependability, warmth, and shared experiences. These hormones are not as exciting as phenylethylamine but are more addictive. The longer two people have been in a relationship the more likely it is that they will stay in that relationship as they get addicted to the endorphins. It is the absence of endorphins that makes long-time partners yearn for each other when apart. The absence of seendorphins also play a part in the grief that results due to the death of the spouse.

According to Mark Goulston, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry,UniversityofCalifornia, Los Angeles, “Adrenaline-based love is all about ourselves, we like being in love. With endorphins, we like loving.” Falling in love is over; being in love begins. As per Ayurveda, a person is made of body, mind (mind, intellect and ego) and soul. Infatuation is at the level of body and the mind, reactions and adjustments are at the level of mind, intellect and ego, and attachment is at the level of the soul.

A person can have a satvik mind (calm and poise), rajsik mind (aggressive) or a tamsik mind (inertia and destructive). The first infatuation and the last attachment phases of a relationship are satvik states, and the in-between states are rajsik or tamsik. This is one reason why newly wedded couples are given satvik food for the initial few months of their marriage including a cup of hot milk with sugar before going to the bed.

The relationship of a person can also be classified at the levels of physical body, mind, intellect, ego and the soul. All depends upon the need and the resultant satisfaction. Rarely will the husband and wife be able to fulfill the role of all the relationships. They may be physically together but not mentally. It is quite common for the partners to have separate relationships to satisfy the various disparate needs:the wife for the physical needs, ‘mental friends’ to satisfy their mental needs (with whom they can open up and share), ‘intellectual friends’ to satisfy there intellectual needs and a guru to satisfy their spiritual needs.