*No men were harmed in the making of this journey through the three stages of love…however I do want to acknowledge them for their gifts to me in my life. If we parted because of my own actions; I’m sorry. If we parted due to yours; thank you.
Many of us know at least one or two couples who got it right the 'first time'. They’ve been together forever, are an absolute image of what love looks like even with their ups and downs. They’re couple goals.
The truth is that for most of us coming to that sort of love is a journey. For some of us it’s a short one- we learn the lessons quickly and meet the 'right' partners that help us move through the stages quickly. For some of us it’s a little longer, bumpier and convoluted- we learn the lessons a little slower, we unwittingly recreate our parent’s marriage dynamics in our own lives. We get stuck in relationships that keep us trapped in certain stages, or some of us simply tap out of relationships entirely because we just don't want to get hurt again.
If it gives you any assurance at all, know that I was the latter. Slow, stuck and eager to repeat my mistakes!! You can read about how I came to embrace my femininity and appreciate myself as a woman HERE.
David Deida describes a transformative path of the three stages of love a woman goes through in her journey to loving and honouring herself before being able to fully experience love in another. I recall pivotal experiences and relationships in my life where I personally moved through these stages myself. And I’ve found these same experiences to be true for many of my coaching clients.
There is no easy ticket through the first two stages of love if this is where you recognise yourself as being.
It takes practice, self-awareness and a commitment to honour our desires over pretending they don’t exist. And that is a frightening concept for many of us – to feel sadness and loss at what we don’t have, to acknowledge what is missing that would light our life up. I see so many men and women shut themselves off from feeling into their desire to be in an extraordinary relationship because the prospect is too painful. They don’t want to be disappointed or hurt again, they feel safer when they don’t expect too much or anything at all.
Rather than remaining stuck in one of the first two stages of love I’d love for you to ask yourself instead – “What do I need to do to grow into the next stage of love?” And when you have your answer- do that. Be patient with yourself through these three stages. Don’t try to rush yourself through them or pretend you are further ahead if you are not. Life is a journey and success is finding joy along the way.
Allow yourself to move through these three stages of love with kindness, fun and self-love. And please note moving through the stages of love doesn’t necessarily equate to you having to leave an existing relationship to do so. It is possible to move through these stages within the same relationship.
STAGE ONE: “I need to get the love from someone else”
Most women's first attempt to get the love, appreciation and self-worth they need, so they feel whole and good enough, comes first from a man choosing them over love for themselves. I certainly did this. I looked to men for all my self-worth, answers, my certainty and my validation as good enough. When I look back I can see I yearned for love because I lacked appreciation for myself and in order to stay in some relationships I chose to ignore and downplay some behaviours. I know that most of us can all resonate with that sentiment at one time or another. Many of us fear the loss of love in this stage as though we are at risk of not finding it ever again in another man.
In this space we rarely make great choices in who we attract into our life. And whether this relationship lasts a lifetime, a year or a few weeks, there eventually comes a time when a woman wakes from her 'Cinderella' illusion and realises through her own unhappiness and dissatisfaction that she cannot rely or look to another to give her the self-love and appreciation she needs.
In this first stage of love I moulded myself into the version of a person my partner needed me to be and I pushed aside my intuition in order to stay in the relationship. Breaking free of this stage saw me having to acknowledge my pain and dissatisfaction over pretending it didn’t hurt so badly. And like a pendulum that has been pulled too far to one side, I swung with vigour straight to the opposite side, propelling me into the second stage of my journey in love.
STAGE TWO: “I don’t need anyone else because I am capable on my own so this needs to be an equal relationship”
When a woman is in this phase, whether single or in a relationship, you will find her working on herself and her personal growth. You will find her trying to find or rediscover herself. She appears strong and self-sufficient, at least she does on the outside.
This was the time when I wholeheartedly embraced my masculine side and became economically and emotionally self-sufficient. I wanted to give myself the love I had been trying to get from someone else. And I wanted to be in a position where I felt like I had it altogether for myself and for my kids. I didn’t want to find myself in anyone again. Instead it had to be a partnership of equals. Of wanting a man over needing a man.
This was a better place for me to be in, as it is for most women. It broke my previous patterns of always needing to be in a relationship, of getting over one relationship by getting straight into another one, of defining myself by the man who was in my life. I found myself and discovered who I was as an adult woman in this second stage of love.
But at the same time, I had an energetic wall that guarded my heart. I struggled to truly let someone into my world. To truly feel safe and open to love. I kept a facade of everything is fine and I am strong/capable/empowered. But I didn’t have the love and intimate relationships that were deeply fulfilling and connected in this space either.
Women in this second stage often fall into one of two ponds – they seek out sex to feel desired, for attention and a mini ego stroke so they can feel like they still have it, or for a feeling of sexual power. Or they close off from sex almost entirely- their sex drive drops.
If a women in this second phase is in a relationship, it will be with a greater expectation of equality. She will expect her mate to support her career as much as she does his, respect her time and energy as much as she does his, to follow her decisions as much as she does his. He’ll have time for himself and she will expect the same time in return to indulge in her own thing.
On paper this second stage might read close to mostly perfect. But what this second stage lacks is true intimacy – in our ability to deeply fall and lean into another sexually and emotionally.
I reached a point whereI was achieving lots professionally and personally. But when I was truly honest with myself I also saw that I was not flourishing fully as a woman, nor did I feel fulfilled. And my relationships, choice of men, didn't reflect this either.
THIRD STAGE: “Love is unlimited”
When a woman is in this phase she no longer feels the need to guard her heart anymore. When something or someone hurts her; she stays open. When she is hurting; she stays open no matter how painful. Love has expanded here from what can she get, to what can she give. This does not mean that she allows herself to be taken advantage of, or that she gives more than she receives. It doesn’t mean she has no boundaries for toxic people that invade her space. She is love and she doesn’t forget herself- it’s how she moves through life.
She puts her own oxygen mask on and she keeps it there before she put’s anyone else’s on.
A woman in this third stage relates to others in the world around her with love because her love is already full. She is not guarded. Her presence opens up others. David Deida calls the leap from the second to the third stage “the feminine crisis.” We reach the third stage with an open, unguarded heart to be subsequently hurt or triggered, and without realising we return back to the second stage of love to heal, lick our wounds and find ourselves again.
Our heart opens. Then it closes. Opens again. Closes.
When we do this we don’t allow ourselves to meet our pain head on and to move through to the other side. We resist it. We go on to repeat our patterns. Yet if we can allow the pain to open us and sit with us something wonderful happens. We return to love and we are filled with love. Looking back, I see what an enormous signal I put out to the Universe in my past where I recognised that my need to be so independent had arisen from being so hurt. And that the price I had paid for such safety was keeping me from the intimate relationship I actually desired. I declared in that moment “I want a love relationship that has it all".
Through my pain, I opened my heart, and the way I loved has never been the same again.
Things feel much worse before they get better- know that’s often the case. But we must have the courage to break through and reach the other side. When heartache comes, say “in time I always move on from it better and brighter.” Or even "every relationship is more aligned and true for me than the last." When disappointment comes refuse to close your heart because tomorrow is always a new day. These are the mantras of a woman who has her own back, who is love and who is open for love.
When we embody this kind of love, love shows up differently for us and our relationships flourish. And they will flourish because we will know that love, as long as we remain open for it, will always come back to us x
*This is the second post regarding the topic of love, femininity and attracting what we desire into our lives. The first article can be found HERE.
Need help to change and uplevel how you feel? Support to know what to do next?
Carla Da Costa is an experienced Law Of Attraction Coach based in Perth. She supports women through times of uncertainty and is specialised in helping them flick the switch from “needing and wanting” to powerfully attracting what they need and desire into their lives.
Carla’s approach is tailored and holistic rather than a one size fits all approach. You’ll feel re-energised, excited and enthused about moving forward!