Phase Frame

How to thrive as a man.

Phases of Love

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Life is full of natural cycles. Learning these patterns is not only eye opening but also freeing and empowering.

Many people give up on love simply because it changes form. And instead of embracing the way nature works, they either lose faith in it or seek out the easy, drug-like fixes (new love).

Click here to jump straight to the 5 Phases of Love without the introduction

Here’s an example of one common “love dynamic” pattern that it took experience for me to learn, and which caused me some concern the first few times it happened but which I eventually learned how to manage and handle just like any other natural process… accept it, learn to love it, and then let it pass (sort of like a good shit).

Most of the girls that I’ve been with in the past expected the initial sexual encounter to do something magical: to massively magnify my commitment to them. This is a very common response that women have after having sex and, because of its universality, it is most likely biologically based (the woman has a strong biological impulse to keep the man around to protect and provide for the baby the two of them may have just produced).

Almost universally, after having sex with a woman, my attitude towards her doesn’t change much (unless I wasn’t into her). I still want what I always wanted: time together to enjoy each other and even more time apart to enjoy other aspects of life. But after the first sexual encounter, my mental processes are very simple and go something like this: “yum, that was good. such an amazing body. the curves, oh god. you know, next time i hope she fights me a little harder. ultra sexy moaning. hmmm… wish she didn’t shave, I hate that, need to let her know gently. but oh man, the way she moved those hips… possibly the best ever. just awesome. ”

So while my attitude towards a woman rarely changes (so long as the sex is passable and I want it with her again), in her mind, if I don’t magically *change* my attitude towards her and become enamored and committed, then something is wrong. In the mind of many women, mostly in the sub-conscious, sex is something she is giving you… conditionally. She expects something in return… namely commitment. But this is almost always unspoken.

The disappointment you see from a woman during the days after first having sex is very predictable (this is a latent, day-after disappointment… if she’s disappointed immediately after sex it’s probably because she wasn’t satisfied). The first few times it happened to me, I let it “phase” me – but the proper way of dealing with it is to simply let it pass. I had to learn this as a common phase of love.

Ok. That’s a long ass introduction. But the fact is that human beings tend to go through the same relationship patterns because, try as hard as we may, we can’t escape our common human nature. It defines us. Constrains us. Motivates us.

The Five Phases of Love

The pattern of relationships that I’ve seen in my life and thousands of others, and pretty much universally is this:

1) Longing/Attraction Phase (not yet together)

When you have your eyes on someone but don’t know if they feel the same way. Often times, the person can take on a mythic quality in your mind. The best tips I can offer here are: A) Demystify her B) Intentionally direct your attention to multiple women at the same time C) Learn the signals of attraction and D) Take action (test her out, give her chances to interact with you… see if she’s interested. If so, great. If not, don’t waste any more of your energy)

2) Infatuation Phase

Early stages of a relationship (especially exclusive ones). You lose interest in almost everything else because you’re literally on a cocaine high;) It feels good to be wanted so intensely and passionately. This phase doesn’t happen with the same intensity for each partner, and the more of them you’ve had, the less intense they end up being. Can last about 3-9 months depending on how fast you indulge the sexual side and how good it is.

3) Bonding Phase

Things become less passionate and feel more safe and tranquil. Passion can continue, but requires work (wanting to stay attractive for each other) and cycling (cycling is my term for pacing things out, giving each other space, letting the relationship naturally ebb and flow… because once Infatuation is over, the whole relationship is either going to be over relatively soon or both people need to commit to wanting to stay attractive to each other)

So… while there’s a very predictable trajectory to love (and yeah the cocaine high is awesome, but you always have to come off it) it doesn’t mean that love inevitably has to come to an end. It can be naturally cyclic.

4) The Dulling Phase (Common but Optional)

This is where two people start living different lives and pursuing different dreams and begin to hardly know each other any longer. Some people get married and live their entire lives in the dulling phase. They settle. Become content. Other people wake up one day and realize that this isn’t want they bargained for in the relationship… and they are faced with a mandate to change. Either by ending the relationship or waking up to the natural cycles of love and embracing phase 5.

5. The Cycling Phase (Rare and Optional)

Most relationships in the modern world break up somewhere in the bonding phase or dulling phase. The reasons for this are complex but, put simply, it’s due to a lack of understanding and malformed expectations. Most people think of love as that feeling you get when just getting to know someone for the first time. And so when that feeling naturally dissipates (as it inevitably will) and the excitement and intensity of the relationship has dulled… eventually one or both people take notice and while they may not know exactly when it happened, they’ll assume that the relationship is broken and that it’s time to start over. So they’ll move on to their next fix.

What most people in today’s world are missing out on is the opportunity to pivot into what I consider the most rewarding phase of love available: the one with a rich history that embraces the cycles of love. The one that plays out like a great piece of classical music. Different tempos, different speeds, different intensities. It’s the type of relationship that knowingly recognizes the need for space and rest, but also knowingly pursues passion and adventure at the right intervals.

The Cycling Phase of Love is the holy grail for relationships. It takes two very mature, self-individuated, non-possessive people to enter this phase. People who give each other the space to be individuals, but who also share dreams and visions and passions together. It is not easy, but it is achievable. The most important ingredient is choosing the right partner. And in a future post, I’ll go over criteria to consider when evaluating women for a life long, long-term relationship.

Written by James

April 11, 2012 at 1:57 pm

7 Responses

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  1. I really like this. I think it’s the first time I’ve read someone explain cycling in love.

    In my twenty-six years of marriage there have been numerous times when I’ve gone through cycling and after some time of just going through life as pretty dull, I’d wake up one morning and feel what you call the Infatuation Phase for my husband all over again. I’ve tried explaining this to friends that if they just hang on a bit it will come back to them as well. I aree with you that many relationships/marriages fall apart during a dulling time and many divorces would be avoided if both partners could just understand the cycling and hold on until the infatuation kicks in again.

    I just found your site from your MMSL link and this title caught my eye. Thanks. You’ve given me something to use to help explain this a bit easier.


    September 7, 2012 at 12:15 pm

  2. Hey Jacquie, I’m glad this post resonated with you. Kudos to you guys on 26 years. That kicks some major ass.


    September 7, 2012 at 9:02 pm

  3. I’ve never been married and I’m in my mid-thirties. Im an attractive successful woman who has had a difficult time finding the right mate. I attribute my difficulty to the lack of men’s understanding on what a life-long relationship entails. My parents have been together for over forty years and I’ve witnessed the reality of what a real marriage takes to sustain itself over the long term. None of us are perfect and we all have our quirks. Unfortunately my generation and after desperately need to understand the phases you have described above. Because I realize the first six months are infatuation I tend to withhold emotion/affection until I’m comfortable. The problem with this is that most men think after the infatuation phase is over and I am finally committed the relationship is over. Men today believe women should fulfill all their needs and fantasies and this is simply impossible. I am a real human being with real issues/baggage not your dream girl to put on a pedestal. I wish your relationship “cycling” phase was more commonly known. I really believe the knowledge gained from your “Phases of Love” article could save most relationships and people would gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for each other.


    November 22, 2012 at 2:57 am

  4. James
    I appreciated your discussion on the cycle of love. I have never spoken or received feedback from a male at this level. Kudos


    April 18, 2014 at 4:32 am

    • Maria, I’m glad it resonates with you.


      September 19, 2014 at 2:04 am

  5. KL,So you are saying we shulod actively engage in conditioning our minds in order to be happy?It is easy to say than done. Nevertheless, you gave me a clue on how to end the relationship with her through a ‘natural’ course even though this is not your intent.


    April 19, 2014 at 10:49 am

    • Hi Claudia. I do believe that we can be pro-active in making ourselves happy. From the foods we eat, to the environments we put ourselves in, to learning to accept and cherish reality and just have fun.


      September 19, 2014 at 2:02 am

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