Long-lasting Love Begins when the Infatuation Phase Ends
When do we stop being in love? When do we go from talking about love to talking about infatuation? The key to understanding long-lasting love is in looking at it as a transition. This is how we will be able to understand how so many loves survive when the idealization ends, and others don’t.
Let’s not think of it like infatuation ending and love beginning, but rather as there being a path between the two. Infatuation is plagued by idealization. We don’t see the other person like they really are. Instead we project all our hopes and desires onto the other person; everything we want in another person is captured in that passion.
Steinberg’s Theory of Love
This author talks to us about love as a feeling that he’d place on three basic pillars:
- Intimacy: understood as the closeness between two people who are getting to know each other, discovering each other, and giving each other the trust to bare their souls.
- Passion: a feeling of desire and physiological activation.
- Commitment: a decision they both agree on to stay together.
- Liking: only intimacy would be present here. There would be closeness and understanding.
- Infatuated love: this would be characterized by passion. There’s physical and sexual attraction. It’s very fast but also decreases quite quickly.
- Empty love: commitment would remain. A decision was made to stay together and it stays that way because of the promise.
- Romantic love: here we find passion and intimacy. Commitment would not be in this kind of love.
- Companion love: intimacy and commitment characterize this model. We can understand it as a committed, long-lasting love in the friendship sense.
- Fatuous love: understood as the union between passion and commitment, but without intimacy. They don’t know each other well and it’s hard for them to stay together.
By understanding these kinds of love we can understand much better how this feeling is dynamic and changing. So, we can go from one kind to another depending on whether the phases move forward or one of the aforementioned pillars starts to stand out.
Is it Healthy to Always be in Love?
Many people describe the infatuation phase as a delirious one. That’s because during this period there tends to be a big gap between how things really are and how we perceive it. We idealize the other person and it’s extremely hard for us to be objective. That’s why it wouldn’t be considered a real love. Loving someone implies knowing them completely, knowing what we like and don’t like about them, and still decide to stay with them.
When we fall in love our brain releases two substances known as serotonin and dopamine. When they’re released it creates a feeling of pleasure and happiness that makes us “addicted” to other person, since it creates euphoria and a generally good feeling in us.
But this river of emotions diminishes over time and makes way to newer, more rational emotions. Sometimes more intense ones. In love, our brain gets carried away by the passion and happiness of the moment, a lot like animals.
When our brain loves it also does so with the rational part, weighing and making decisions, and choosing the other person from a more mature and human place. Let’s fall in love every day, but let’s especially learn to love even when the extra boost from the infatuation phase has ended.
Long-lasting love means certain sacrifices and takes the kind of work we had trouble with at the beginning. It’s up to us to decide if it’s worth it or not.