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The 3 Loves in Life that You Will Experience

One of the three loves in life

Did you know there are 3 loves in life that most (but not all) people will experience? Each one of those loves will take on a slightly different form and feeling, and prepare us for the ultimate love of our lives and a relationship that (hopefully) lasts forever. This is called The Three Loves Theory. It explains the 3 loves of your life:

  • The 1st love of your life = young, puppy love
  • The 2nd love of your life = passionate but hard love in which we learn lessons
  • The 3rd love of your life = a committed, forever love that feels right

The idea is that most people will only ever fall in love three times, with three different people, and each of those loves is a building block that takes us to the next. Of course, this is not how our lives always unfold in reality. But the stages do represent how we tend to grow as humans as we age and gain more confidence, life experience, and maturity.

The 1st Love of Your Life

The first love in life is usually found in your teens

What the 1st love is all about

The Three Loves Theory is largely based on decades of work by Helen Fisher and other scientists who have found there are different emotions that happen during these three different stages of love and relationships and have mapped the neurobiological components of the three loves to social realities.

The 1st of the 3 loves in life is a young, “puppy” kind of love. It’s idealistic and feels like a fairytale or rom-com. It’s bursting with intensity, passion, and all the feels.

At what stage of life you might meet this person

You’re likely to meet your 1st love when you’re in high school as a teenager and are yet to be a fully-formed human. After all, science says our brains are not fully formed until we reach the age of 25, so anyone we fall in love with or have a relationship with before this age is likely to be outgrown as we grow up.

What this relationship is like

It’s typically your first relationship, which is why it’s so exciting and intoxicating. There’s a good chance you were already friends, and you fell hard and fast for them, unable to distinguish the difference between platonic friendship and romantic feelings.

This is usually a love or relationship we think we should be in, and will often please our families or close friends. We’re more concerned about how others view us, rather than how we feel about the whole thing.

It’s likely you spend every day together, hours on the phone every night, and any moment apart feels unbearable.

We go into the 1st love blind-sighted into thinking that this will be it. That this is our forever person. So no matter how wrong it feels or how much we have to change who we are or swallow our truth to make it work, we do it. And we convince ourselves that this is how love and a relationship are meant to be.

But the more time goes by, the more wrong it feels. You fight more frequently, and it becomes draining, especially when you can’t even remember what it was you were fighting about. You might break up and make up several times before you finally call it quits because something still pulls you back toward them, thinking that you’re meant to end up together, just like in the movies.

How it might end

Eventually, you’ll have one fight too many. There’s a messy, painful breakup filled with tears, and it feels like your heart has been ripped out and stomped on. At the time, it truly does feel like the end of the world, because you don’t know any better. You can’t see past high school. Cue the sad breakup song playlist on Spotify, getting drunk, and spending more time with your friends to help you move on.

You might agree to remain friends with your ex, and even if you meant it at the time, you learn that this isn’t always possible.

The 2nd Love of Your Life

Finding love at a party

What the 2nd love is all about

The 2nd of the 3 loves of your life is said to be the hard one. The one that teaches us valuable lessons about ourselves, the one that wounds us deeply, the one that we learn in and grow from the most.

On the surface, it might feel like we have learned from our 1st love, but the reality is we are still repeating the same choices we made back then and are hoping for a different ending.

At what stage of life you might meet this person

You’re likely to meet your 2nd love in your late teens or early to mid-twenties. Maybe you met in a bar, the place where you have a part-time job, or through a mutual friend at a party. You’re still learning about yourself, your needs, and the kind of life you want to live.

What this relationship is like

Of the 3 loves in life, the 2nd is undoubtedly the hardest. It could be an unhealthy, unbalanced, toxic, or even abusive (emotionally, mentally, physically, or sexually) relationship. There might be lying, cheating, or manipulation at play.

It’s likely there will be a lot of drama between the two of you. Nothing feels easy or simple. There are extreme highs followed by extreme lows, and you become used to this roller-coaster ride of a relationship. Even when you’re on a low, that adrenaline-junkie part of you is living for the next high.

You both feel passionate about each other - a connection you feel when you gaze into each other’s eyes and want to stay up talking until 3 AM, and when things are good, you feel “smitten.” The problem is, passion overtakes the logic in your brain.

You notice the red flags, but you ignore them because this person is mostly great, and you’re ready for something serious that lasts. So maybe you move in together to solidify that commitment, or maybe you even get engaged or married. But deep down, it doesn’t feel right, because your intuition is telling you this is a mistake.

Your 2nd love will likely bring you a lot of pain, but with that pain comes a lot of healing and growth. You learn more about who you are and how you need to be loved. You learn to set boundaries and be more discerning in love.

How it might end

The red flags and cracks in your relationship fester and grow wider to the point where they are glaring at you every day. You have the realization that you have settled in love. You feel unappreciated, betrayed, and worthless, and finally, recognize that you deserve more. And maybe you’re beating yourself up even more for staying in a relationship like this for so long with someone who never deserved you in the first place.

The relationship will finally come to an end because one or both of you finally realizes what you want and deserve. You’ll probably take a big break after this relationship to be alone, heal, and start loving yourself more.

The 3rd Love of Your Life

A couple in a long-term relationship

What the 3rd love is all about

The 3rd love of your life is the one you don’t see coming. It hits you when you least expect it. On the surface, it might not look wrong or far from your usual “type,” but there’s a deep, unexplainable connection there that you haven’t felt before. This is the love that turns into true commitment and is meant to last forever.

At what stage of life you might meet this person

You’ll meet this person when you’ve taken plenty of time to be on your own and learn to enjoy being single and work on building your confidence and self-worth back up. You’re not in a place where you need someone on your arm to feel validated, but you are open and ready to meet someone special. Not only that, but you’re no longer looking for casual hookups or meaningless sex; you’re looking for something more, something deeper, and a real emotional connection.

What this relationship is like

The 3rd love isn’t what you dreamed love would look like when you were younger because it’s different from the fairytales we read and the movies we see. And this shows us that love doesn’t have to be what we thought it should be in order to be real and true. Often, it will hit you when you weren’t expecting it and will keep knocking at your door until you answer.

You find you are drawn to this person, but it’s more than lust and romance. You are deeply interested in what they have to say, how they carry themselves, their experiences, and their goals and dreams.

Your 3rd love will feel so easy that a part of you might wonder when the drama is about to hit because you’re just not used to love being so simple. Yes, you have disagreements (all couples do) but you’re able to communicate in a healthy, respectful way with each other, resolve things, and move forward.

Any walls you had built from your last breakup to protect your heart will come down. You can be yourself and feel no pressure to wear a mask or pretend to be someone to impress them.

Your 3rd love is the love that teaches you how to love again, and it’s the love that (hopefully) lasts forever.

How it might end

Your 3rd love might end in an unexpected tragedy that leads to death, or a shared experience that you struggle to work through and ends up tearing you apart (for example, the death of a child). In this case, you might close your heart completely and/or decide that you do not want to be in another relationship. Or, after taking enough time to grieve, you might decide you’re ready to meet someone new, who would be a different version of your 3rd love.

But generally, your 3rd love is one that lasts forever (as long as the Universe plays the ball).

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