Although there is no clear definition, most of the time romantic love is seen as a combination of attraction and idealization that can lead to (or leave) a loving relationship. Romantic love has inspired artists for centuries and has been the subject of countless plays, songs, movies, books, and other creative endeavors.
As anyone who has ever been in love knows, love is complicated and can evoke powerful emotions, ranging from euphoria to heartbreak.romantic relationshipsgoing through ups and downs, from that initial and exhilarating "honeymoon" phase, through a feeling of disappointment, to a state of acceptance and desire to permanence. Going through these stages can be challenging, but the reward is a healthy, long-lasting relationship.
Romantic love versus other types of love
RespectivelySternberg's love triangle theoryThere are three components of love: intimacy, passion, and determination/commitment. This can be true in romantic relationships and other interpersonal relationships. The presence, absence and combination of these three components make up seven different types of love.
- Amistad: Intimacy without passion or commitment
- dedication: Passion without intimacy or commitment
- empty love: Commitment without passion or intimacy
- romantic love: Passion and intimacy without compromise
- love partner: Intimacy and surrender without passion/sexual desire; you could also call this “platonic” love
- silly love: Commitment and passion without intimacy
- consummate love: commitment, passion and intimacy; represents an ideal relationship
stages of romantic love
Romantic love generally progresses through some of Sternberg's love types in some predictable stages. A relationship can start out as friendship or infatuation and then progress to romantic love and finally consummated love. Or it can go from infatuation to romantic love, but then become companionship or emptiness.
During the infatuation phase, also known as lust, you experience joy, passion, and euphoria when you and your lover are together.neurochemicals in the brain, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, also known as "feel-good chemicals," are released.These chemicals make us feel dizzy, energetic, and euphoric, which sometimes leads to decreased appetite and insomnia. In fact, you might be so "in love" that you can't eat or sleep.
The euphoria you feel during the infatuation phase makes you idealize the other person and want to be with them all the time; you think about her all the time.
Because this person seems perfect at this stage, you also overlook their flaws and imperfections, hence the saying "love is blind." Typically, the infatuation phase lasts between six months and a year.
Twin Flame: Soulmate's lesser-known cousin
The first sign that the infatuation phase is over is a feeling of disappointment. Reality sets in and you begin to notice faults in your partner. Some of the same features that you found so attractive at first are starting to show their downsides. For example, someone who initially seemed confident and determined may now appear gruff and narrow-minded.
When the euphoria wears off, they both reveal their true selves and are relentless and selfless just like when their partner seemed like they could do no wrong. Although at first it was difficult for you to fit in with the other person, you can feel it as your own.needs are not met.
As the idealization fades, you may resent that your partner no longer triggers that wonderful passionate feeling. In some cases, serious problems such assearchor abusive tendencies, can emerge and be potentially destructive of the business.
How hard should you work to change your partner?
The relationship is now at a tipping point. Going through this stage requires the ability to compromise, talk about your needs and wants, and learn how to do it.resolve a conflictproductive. Instead of trying to change your partner, focus on learning to respect each other. You will discover if both of you finally want the relationship to work.
Being able to negotiate the inevitable obstacles along the way is a good indicator that the relationship may be evolving into something more permanent and stable.
Commit to a person who arouses romantic feelings andcommunicate your dreams, desires and thoughtseach other, it can lead to true intimacy and togetherness, the next level of love.
5 signs of a strong partnership
Just because passion doesn't stay red-hot and relentless doesn't mean love doesn't continue. Mature love (or consummate love, according to Sternberg's theory) is the kind of commitment found in long-term relationships and successful marriages. In mature love, two people are together because they want to be together, not just because they have an irrational desire or need to be together.
The signs of mature love are acceptance, emotional support, commitment, calm, respect, affection, kindness, friendship, and consideration. Cementing this phase isoxytocin, sometimes called the "cuddle hormone" because it forces you and your partner to get closer and bond.
Research suggests that the brain activity of couples in mature relationships is very similar to that of newlyweds.Just because you don't long for the person doesn't mean it's not true love; In fact, mature love is often deeper and more meaningful (not to mention much longer lasting) than its younger counterpart.
Romantic love and sexual desire.
For most couples, sexual desire is an important part of a romantic relationship. Although it is obviously possible to havesexual attractionwithout emotional attachment and vice versa, romantic love often involves both. And because the brain reacts similarly to both, the researchers suspect they reinforce each other.
Evolutionary psychologists suggest that a stronger bond occurs when sexual desire is combined with love. This keeps couples together, which benefits their children.
A word from Verywell
Romantic love can mean different things to different people. The most important thing is that you and your partner are on the same page. Shared intimacy and passion can often lead to a strong shared commitment to another person and a long-lasting relationship.
What is love?
Verywell Mind uses only quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts in our articles. read ourspublishing processto learn more about how we verify our content and keep it accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
Sternberg RJ.A triangular theory of love..Rev Psychology. 1986;93(2):119-135. doi:10.1037/0033-295x.93.2.119
De Boer A, van Buel EM, Ter Horst GJ.Love is more than a kiss: a neurobiological perspective on love and affection.neuroscience. 2012;201:114-24. doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2011.11.017
Schneiderman I, Zagoory-Sharon O, Leckman JF, Feldman R.Oxytocin during the early stages of the romantic bond: Relationships for couple interactive reciprocity.Psychoneuroendocrinology.2012;37(8):1277-1285. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2011.12.021
Cacioppo S, Bianchi-Demicheli F, Frum C, Pfaus JG, Lewis JW.The shared neural underpinnings between sexual desire and love: a multilevel kernel density fMRI analysis..J sex with.2012;9(4):1048-1054. doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2012.02651.x
Birnbaum GE, Reis HT.Designed to be connected: bonding dynamics and sex in romantic relationships.Current opinion Psicol.2019;25:11-15. doi:10.1016/j.copsy.2018.02.005
Bode A, Kushnick G.Proximate and Past Perspectives on Romantic Love.frontal psychology. 2021;12:573123. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2021.573123
gotman j.The 3 phases of love.. Instituto Gottmann.
Sheri Stritof has been writing about marriage and relationships for over 20 years. She is the co-author of The Everything Great Marriage Book.
See Our Editorial Process
Meet our jury
Was this page helpful
Thank you for your comments!
What is your opinion?
Talk to a relationship therapist × Offers listed in this table are from associations from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.
Talk to a relationship therapist
Offers listed in this table are from associations from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.