Five stages of romance

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All the world’s a stage
And all the men and women merely players,
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
— Shakespeare, As You Like It, 2, 7

That’s perhaps one of Shakespeare’s more popular quotes, although it’s been misquoted so many times. Nevertheless, it really sums up the passage of our lives, our entrances, our performances, and ultimately our exit after seven ages, three score and 10 years.

Throughout our tenure we play many parts — some good, others bad, enduring pain, sorrow, bask in joy and happiness and act out many scenes as we perform. There are stages in all aspects of our lives and one very famous study is ‘The Five Stages of Grief’, which postulates that those who experience grief go through a series of five emotions — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Well, instead of grief, I have my own theory of the five stages of romance, for just like everything else, romance also has layers, contours, terraces and is not static. Romance is the theatre in which most men and women put on their best performances, and as Shakespeare said, we all play our part, act out our scenes, sometimes play the fool, but in the end, we are merely players.

Ironically, the term player is usually given to a man who’s a ladies man, a guy about town, a gyallis, someone who knows his way around women, a playboy.

“See that guy, he’s a player, I wish I was like him.”

So, we’ll see what the five stages of romance are, right after these responses to my take on ‘Single, wife, strife’.

Hi Tony,

It seems that many of today’s women are independent and career focused, and claim publicly that they do not need to have a man in their life. However, in private, many of these women yearn for the companionship of a man, it’s in their DNA. Their biological clock demands that they have children before time runs out. Choosing the right woman to be a wife, he’s also choosing the right woman to be a good mother. Motherhood puts a spoke into the wheel of independent and career-minded woman.


Hello Teerob,

Single, wife, strife, those three do not necessarily go hand in hand, neither do they have to impact negatively on each other. Sometimes people are miserable being single and find happiness when they take a wife. True, sometimes it’s the opposite, as having taken a wife he now wishes he was single. But in most cases it beats being alone, especially when age catches up on you. Enjoy being single, embrace the wife, for life itself can also bring strife.


The five stages of romance are very different from the five stages of grief, although some cynics will say that romance often ends in grief. One person leaves the other who doesn’t take the split very well, and grief enters the picture. Still, romance is vastly different and has stages that most people go through.

It can be said that the first stage of romance is usually the best, as it’s full of excitement, joy, anticipation, passion, unbridled happiness. That’s what my research over the years has revealed.

In the first stage, the exploratory stage, men have a slightly different view than women, and treat them like they are princesses. In fact, when you poll most men they will tell you that the most exciting time of the relationship was when he first saw his woman naked just before he made love to her. Compare that feeling to how he feels after 40 years of being with her.

“I tell you, I almost couldn’t contain myself when she first took off her clothes.”

“Man, I really got lucky this time, she’s absolutely gorgeous.”

This heightened enthusiasm can work against the man, resulting in performance anxiety and premature you know what. It only goes to show how men feel in that crucial first stage of the romance.

Women also share these first time feelings, as one lady wrote, “She found heaven in his eyes, and for the first time, in a very long time, she could feel the stars within her begin to shine.”

These are feelings expressed in this stage of romance, as the man is excited by the prospect of having sex with her for the first time, and the woman is infatuated by the romance that she thinks has finally come her way.

That’s why men are on their best behaviour at this stage, for they know that it’s critical for their success in bedding the maiden. And that’s why women never forget their first love. That first experience made a lasting impression on her.

By stage two, the feelings grow, as the couple starts to know each other. The sex is still great and she wants him as much as he wants her. They spend a lot of time together, and often tend to exclude other people from their lives, even relatives. As the old saying goes, “They only have eyes for each other.”

“Is whaap’n to Raymond, we hardly see him anymore?”

“Him have new woman and is in love.”

This second stage is so great, as they bond as one and are now officially a couple. By stage three, the wild unbridled sexual passion has simmered a bit, but is still pervasive. No longer do they rush home from work to make love, but rather wait until bedtime. They now spend more quality time together without tearing off each other’s clothes at every opportunity.

Stage three is still good, and at this juncture he may decide to cement the relationship by popping the question, getting engaged or just live together. Stage three is the commitment stage.

Then it’s stage four, where they either are living together for a period of time, or make it official by getting married. Whichever way they go, it’s now a union, a serious commitment as they now live under one roof.

But stage four can be tricky, for as the old saying goes, “See me and come live with me are two different things.” Most couples break up at this stage, for it’s when people really get to know each other, warts and all.

At this stage they have their own version of TLC and I don’t mean tender loving care either, but lolerance, loathing and contempt. From what I’ve researched, this is the stage when tolerance is tested to the limit. At this juncture, the little things that were overlooked in the first stages are now not tolerated at all.

Things like him leaving the toilet seat up all the time, so when she sits on it in the dark, she almost falls in. Little things like him snoring lightly is no longer cute, but is a huge source of annoyance for her.

Her breaking wind at the most inappropriate time used to be cute, but now is loathed by him, and she holds him in contempt for how he smells after he gets home from a hard day’s labour. Her spending so much time yakking on the phone with her girlfriends, those same girlfriends who she cut off in stage one and two, is not tolerated by him at all.

Even seemingly innocuous things like him watching too much sports on TV or her spending too much time on her hair are contemptuous by both. Men have told me that as the stages progress, the tolerance level of their women decreases. Is that why women nag men, or is because men stop doing the nice things that they used to do in the early stages?

Then comes the fifth stage, if they survive stage four. By now the passion has waned, if not completely disappeared. Either he has lost his desire, or sex is now distasteful for her. That glint in his eye has gone, and that come hither look is no longer in her eyes. Maybe they both find it impossible, as the bwoy cyan’t stan up anymore, or she has locked up tight as a clam.

Now they’re in the companionship stage, living like roommates, as all the fervent passions are but memories of decades long gone.

It does sound sad, but it doesn’t have to be so. Older people who I spoke to told me that it’s not all that bad, as they’ve grown to love each other in different ways. It was Shakespeare who said, “Age cannot whither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety.” He also said, “You cannot call it love, for at your age, the hey-day in the blood is tame.”

Oh boy, what a drama we all have to perform in as we go through the stages of romance. All the world’s a stage, and we are merely the players. The first stages seem great, but that last stage doesn’t seem so appealing. So as long as you can keep those early stages burning, do so. Keep those flames flickering, stoke the embers and keep it hot.

Remember, it’s not how long you make it, but how you make it long. As for me, I’m still in stage one, but I’m blessed that way.

More time.

Footnote: I know that the police have a difficult job fighting crime, but traffic control is also important. Two Saturdays ago there was a shooting near the Half-Way-Tree Transport Centre in which a cop was wounded. As a result, the police blocked off Half-Way-Tree square, resulting in a massive traffic jam that lasted over four hours. I was caught in it and it was miserable. I know that the cops have a job to do, but there must have been a better way than to block hundreds of vehicles for over four agonising hours. A detour could have been provided or one lane allowed through Half-Way-Tree square. Common sense.

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