Life Phases of love


Except for the earliest childhood, man never lives in the state of being love for a longer period of time. In the course of his development, the love experience changes from being love and the primary excited love to purposeful love and the secondary excited love. I distinguish three phases.

The three stages of loving

The first phase of unconscious being love

Assuming relatively favorable circumstances unconscious being love takes place within the framework of the primary self, predominantly within the diadic intimate relationship between the fetus/infant and its mother.

Before and shortly after birth, the infant ideally is still in harmony with its primary self. It experiences the state of being love as a continuum and after birth increasingly pleasurable waves of primary excited love.

It is not yet proven to what extent already in the uterus indirect influences affect the fetus’ state of mind. But as already mentioned, an influence can be assumed. Especially the research of Alessandra Piontelli opens new insights in this respect. We have to assume that indirect influences via corresponding maternal hormones and transmitter substances as well as direct experiences can influence the fetus. This includes the possibility to directly experience parental love life as secondary or – ideally – as primary excited love.

The earlier socialization begins, the earlier and the stronger the primary self is replaced by the externally programmed secondary self, the primary being love by purposeful love, and the primary excited love by the confusing secondary excited love.

The second phase of secondary excited love

Here I additionally distinguish three subphases dependent on the socialization conditions:

  1. In the early experimental phase, i.e. until adolescence is completed, an exuberant joy and desire for movement builds up, which increasingly merges with sexual energy. Ideally, this energy seeks and finds suitable channels to express itself. With the hormonal changes caused by puberty, the distribution of roles within the sexes gets clear.

    For many adolescents, however, the need to experiment competes with the necessities that socialization demands of them, especially the demands of the secondary self. In this context, it is above all the emphasis on the rational that leads to the adolescent becoming increasingly alienated from the body at a stage when he or she wants to experiment with bodily experiences.

    Many fail throughout their lives to integrate the various needs and interests in a good compromise; they are always in danger of covering up their unsatisfied longing by means of addictive substances and behavior.
  2. In adulthood, more and more excitement and movement energy must be used to cope with the necessities of everyday life at work and in the family; skills of the secondary self are demanded more than ever.

    In the “best years” the elemental sexual energy has already passed its peak. If it is not possible to fill the gap through increased (re-)engagement with being love, there is a tendency to increasingly compensate for the vacuum by claims to power. This substitute behavior is mainly used by people who have been denied a happy and carefree connection to their mother or father in their early childhood.

    Within this phase the orgasm is a critical interface: On one hand it is related to the unconscious and the instincts, on the other hand it also conveys an anticipation of spiritual-cosmic realms. An intense connection – more or less consciously experienced – to being love emerges.
  3. In the consolidation and maturation phase following the reproductive phase – if there is openness for it – besides purposeful love, being love with qualities of the primary self come into effect more and more often, which play a central role in the following third phase.

The third phase of conscious being love

This phase is “optional” and by no means self-evident. While in the first phase the diadic relation to the mother is a central point, in the second phase we orient ourselves above all to the needs of biology and society. In the third phase – Jung calls it the second half of life – we turn more and more inward, given we are following the rhythm of life.

Increasingly, the need for self-realization becomes actual. We expand our conscious personality by integrating all those parts that were previously excluded. However, this process is tedious. Those who do not suffer from the compromises that required the development of the secondary self – via self-alienation – have little reason to follow this arduous path.

Jung aptly put it:
“Without necessity nothing changes, least of all the human personality. It is tremendously conservative, not to say inert. Only the sharpest misery is able to stir it up. Thus also the development of personality obeys no wish, no command, and no insight, but only necessity; it requires the motivating forces of inner or outer destinies.”

But he also states:
“The development of personality is such a happiness that one can only pay dearly for it.”

The grace of being love

Occasionally the experience of conscious being love surprises us as an unexpected miracle, like a message from another world. We experience a vision of never before realized mightiness, an encounter with the beauties of nature, to which we had no relation for many years.

Usually such lightning-like experiences of enlightenment are suppressed after a short time, without their significance being taken into account. If I am able to integrate such experiences, I succeed in crossing over from the so-called main reality of the secondary self to the recovered reality of the primary self. This corresponds to a process of personal maturation that is not consciously aspired, that arises out of its own.

I have added a sixth level to Maslow’s pyramid of needs for the need to transcend ego boundaries, to have transcendent experiences, and thus to return to the primary self on a conscious level. Often a great life crisis is the driving force, when everything darkens, when in the middle of life no sense is to be seen any more, when the old familiar support is suddenly lost and lifelong dreams and longings prove to be illusory.

This, the so-called pressure of suffering, probably explains the path of mystics of all cultures. For them, the experience of conscious being love is no longer unexpected, but they also experience it mostly surprisingly as grace.

Longing for the Divine

For millennia, people have consciously dedicated their lives to achieving this state, thereby subsequently claiming their birthright. In the majority they were lone wolves: ascetics, hermits, nuns and monks of the most diverse religions, who hoped to satisfy their longing for the divine, to find their “salvation of the soul” in meditation, in prayer and above all in the renunciation of sensual pleasure.

The ascetic tendencies have several reasons: Walking the spiritual path requires such a high degree of devotion that the distraction of biological constraints is experienced as extremely disturbing.

On the other hand, this enormous difficulty in shutting oneself off from the impulses of life makes the mind feel particularly challenged by this demanding task, not to mention the fact that the majority of religious traditions consider chastity a particularly desirable goal, which adds to the social pressure. Nevertheless, it is probably the most difficult but also the most fulfilling experience for seekers when they not only experience being love, but when they also succeed – beyond asceticism – to consciously integrate excited love. Thereby ecstatic raptures are consciously experienced, which cannot be put into words.

Selfishness can support a couple’s relationship

This phase is selfish in a salutary way. Those affected are no longer dependent on co-love and therefore are not, via purposeful love, fixed on a partner, because in this phase we relate to the whole. Nevertheless or because very intimate couple relationships can flower out of it.

The experience not only of conscious being love but also of conscious primary excited love has been institutionalized in certain Eastern spiritual traditions. Tantrism and Taoism have succeeded in making it possible to experience stages of conscious being love up to the conscious integration of primary excited love – as the highest form of a holistic being – via intensified intimacy during intercourse. The experiences of being love are connected “in a form of meditation” with those of excited love.


If we measure the concept of fidelity as duration of a satisfying relationship between two people, then, regardless of the equally decisive material, interest-related similarities, as emphasized by Jürg Willi, the phase in which the partners find themselves is crucial and perhaps even decisive.

The experimental phase (the second phase of love) is about experiencing the energies and pleasures of excited love. Fidelity is less important than the possibility for variety and new experiences. The decisive factor is not the potential of integrating the still unknown own shadows in the other, but biological factors and the personality structure. Opposites attract.

Studies on biologically supported adultery

The biological pressure to cheat must not be underestimated, neither in men nor in women, even if various reasons are presented:
Men need to spread their genetic material as widely as possible.

Women, on the other hand, are concerned that they provide the few occasions on which they can successfully carry a pregnancy to equip with optimal genetic material, if necessary also with that of the neighbor – as has been demonstrated by DNA controls on apparently strictly monogamous bird species. For this the cuckold males are extremely jealous and pay little attention to the foreign brood. Tigers and mice do not shy away from eating young bastards.

The importance of the sense of smell

According to studies conducted at the University of Bern, the “optimal” choice has a surprisingly clear link to an immune defense system that is as diverse as possible. The choice is made predominantly by women via their highly differentiated odor perception system, which decides on the basis of a man’s body odor whether he is the right one or not. Test controls showed that sexually particularly attractive means largely immune-genetic strongly diversifying.

In addition to these hidden criteria, there are striking showing off characteristics that indicate the presence of effective immune defenses. PATRICIA GOWATY has proven that the most complicated ritual behavior or particularly elaborate decoration are especially looked for in animals because they indicate high intelligence on the one hand, and a particularly well-developed potency on the other.

The latter is so outstanding in these cases that these machos can afford to waste enormous energies completely “unnecessarily” despite the reduced immunobiological defense associated with the high testosterone level, just “only to make an impression on their female, their girlfriend”.

With which finally scientifically would be explained, why deer drag around a centner-heavy antler, blackbirds invent the most varied melodies, or why completely ordinary men definitely must drive their Lamborghini to the nearby golf course and naturally also to the perhaps somewhat more remote “One night stand”.

The winner’s wreath beckons for this male elite; procreative power tends toward adultery behavior. Completely in contrast to the socially esteemed caring (permanent) fatherhood, for which on the basis of those just mentioned investigations above all the “dear and nice ones” are preferred by the woman. Thus it has something for each and everyone, even if those who sow are not necessarily those who reap.

Flings: short-term excitement for distraction

People, and men in particular, know another reason for the great temptation: excited love thrives on short-term excitement and change.

Studies on men with potency disorders show that “erection failure” is “cured” by the relationship with new partners. This behavior could also be explained physiologically; it is related – at least in male rats – to dopamine levels (DENNIS FIORNO).

While the secretion in the area of the midbrain responsible for lust rapidly decreases with increasing copulation (with the same female!), the male dopamine secretion abruptly went up when a new partner in heat appeared, simultaneously with a revival of the dried-up copulatory intensity.

Women also revive mentally as well as physically through a “new spring”.

The positive experiences anchored in the body from the first subphase, the adolescent experimentation phase, make it possible in the second subphase (the socially active adult role) to fall back on them again and again, as the “salt and pepper” of a relationship bound up in family obligations and work. However, those who try to live on salt and pepper all their lives will starve.

Healing of a partnership through being love

The third phase is about developing the qualities of being love. If this does not succeed, the end of the relationship, at least of an emotionally healthy relationship, is probably pre-programmed.


The more two people find to their being love, the greater the chance that they will not become tired of each other. 

If two partners have experienced this harmony and if their cultural and social interests at least partly coincide, the best conditions are given not only for fidelity but also for healing within the couple relationship.

If a separation should occur, it will not be easy for either of them to find someone again with whom an equally deep and fulfilling relationship can be established.

The fact that the divorce figures are so high even at an advanced age indicates that it is not only in the experimentation phase and at the time of marriage that outward appearances are decisive, but that even in long-term marriages the partners fail to nurture and promote being love.

Dr. Kurt Eugen Schneider
Dr. Kurt Eugen Schneider