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There Are 5 Stages Of Love, But Sadly Many Couples Stop At Stage 3

There Are 5 Stages Of Love, But Sadly Many Couples Stop At Stage 3

“The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.” – Audrey Hepburn

Ahh, love. It makes the world go around. It has inspired many poems, the most-read genre of books, and movies that make you grab a box of tissues. Nothing in life can compare to finding love. And when you locate that perfect partner, you plan to hold on tight forever. Till death do you part. So why do 40-50% of marriages end in divorce [1]? Couples tend to end their relationships when they become disillusioned, not realizing it is simply one of many steps to a deeper, truer love.

The 5 Stages of Love

There are 5 stages of love that all relationships will eventually experience. Knowing this in advance can save you future heartache and problems.  It also can provide you with hope that the situation you find yourself in will pass. If you face adversity together and hang on, life will get better. You will become closer and love will endure.

Stage 1: Passion and playfulness

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    You meet the man of your dreams. He’s cute, fun and downright sexy. He’s filled your waking thoughts. You can’t think straight and getting a text from him will make your heart flutter. You are falling fast.

    In this first stage of love, your hormones run the show. You flirt, get butterflies in your stomach and heart, toss your hair back often and laugh a lot more. Falling in love makes you glow. Full of playfulness and passion, stage one of love, often called the honeymoon stage, tends to be everyone’s favorite because it’s fun.

    Stage 2: Getting serious

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      Enter stage two. You still make a great couple. You hold hands in the park and cuddle up together to watch a movie, but something has changed. You’ve moved in together, maybe even got married and invested in a house. There might be a new baby in the picture or one on the way. The craziness of that honeymoon phase has calmed down.

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      You still have sex, but it’s more loving, more meaningful. And probably more rushed if you have a child. But now there are bills to worry about. Rent. Babysitters. Adult- stuff. That fun time has run its course and your relationship has entered the serious zone.

      Stage 3: What happened?

      Life seems to have rushed by and left you somewhere in the dust. You have friends living in Bali, others attending fun after-work parties and you are stuck going home each night to clean up a house, do laundry and make dinner that no one seems to appreciate. You feel as if your partner takes you for granted. What happened to those cuddles on the couch? And the last time he held your hand was to show you the mess the kids made in the bathroom. Stage three makes you seriously wonder if you lost that loving feeling!

      What happened? Did you fall out of love? Most couples begin to feel resentment towards their partners at this stage in their relationship. They wonder what they missed in life had they stayed single, and wonder if being single would be a better place to be.

      By this point, all illusions have been stripped away. You find yourself arguing more. The bills may be piling up, and kids proving to be a challenge. Romance seems like work and you can’t be bothered to squeeze in the time. You just want it to end. And most people do just that, end their relationship.

      Stage 4: Climbing down from the pedestal

      If you’ve stuck it out through the tough times of stage three, you will be rewarded. You and your partner have fallen from the pedestals that you placed each other on. You become real people, not gods descended from Mount Olympus. All veils are stripped away. You acknowledge that your partner has dreams and also problems, just like you. Stage three let you see the frustrations in your relationship. Stage four allows you to accept them and work through them.

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      You and your partner can face life and battle adversity as a team. You have reached the stage of real love, not love held up on romance and passion or stuck together because of a child, but love based on mutual understanding and acceptance of each other.

      Stage 5: Working together as a team

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        Now that you’ve both embraced each other’s weaknesses and faults along with strengths and desires, you can combine forces and make the world a better place.

        What social issues are you both passionate about? Do you both believe in healthy food choices? Get involved in a CSA co-op and help out on an organic farm or making farm fresh produce deliveries to people who can’t get out. Love the arts? Join a local cultural club or start a project or take a class together. Collaborate on an e-book. Volunteer at a national park.

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        As the old saying goes: “couples who play together, stay together.” By all means, keep your separate hobbies, but find a common ground and make it a project to work on together.

        Don’t let your relationship become a statistic. When you arm yourself about the stages of love, it will help you get through those tough times to reach the other side. Love can be beautiful, but it is far from perfect. Nothing worth having comes easy. Hang on and love will endure.

        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pixabay.com

        Reference

        [1] American Psychological Association: Research on Marriage and Divorce

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        Sally White

        writer, artist & blogger

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        Last Updated on January 15, 2021

        7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

        7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

        The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

        Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

        Posture

        First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

        • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
        • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
        • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
        • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

        All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

        Facial Expressions

        Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

        • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
        • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
        • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

        If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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        1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

        A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

        The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

        This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

        2. Relax Your Face

        New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

        The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

        To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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        3. Improve Your Eye Contact

        Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

        The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

        To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

        3. Smile More

        There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

        Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

        4. Hand Gestures

        Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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        It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

        5. Enhance Your Handshake

        In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

        “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

        It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

        6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

        As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

        Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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        Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

        Final Takeaways

        Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

        If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

        More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

        Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

        Reference

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