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Relationship Tips Image Gallery

Is your new romance for real, or just a passing phase? See more relationship tips pictures.

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Your heart races every time he calls and your palms sweat whenever he's near. You think he may be "the one." But how do you know if this is the real thing?

Dennis Neder, author of Being a Man in a Woman's World (Remington Publications, 2000), says love has three stages: the infatuation stage, the bonding stage and the familiar stage. Dr. Neder, an ordained minister and doctor of metaphysics, says it helps to consider all three stages when determining if you have the real thing.

The infatuation stage is when you can't wait to be with the other person. This is the romantic stage of love, says Dr. Neder, who warns that this is the stage when people thinks it's "the real thing." But this stage lasts only a short time.

The second stage, says Dr. Neder, is the bonding stage. During this stage you get to know the other person and you start planning aspects of your life around them. If you continue through this stage you eventually enter the third stage, or what Dr. Neder calls "the familiar phase."

In the familiar stage you've established a pattern that involves the other person. "Your lives become intertwined and merged," Dr. Neder says. "You know foundationally how the other person feels about almost everything. And interestingly," says Dr. Neder, "you also become refocused on your own life, direction and goals." Dr. Neder says this is where most professionals believe "real love" starts.