How to Transition From the Honeymoon Phase to Lasting Love
The honeymoon phase marks the time in your relationship when sparks are flying and your stomach’s full of butterflies. You probably believe that the other person can do no wrong. You’re less apt to get into an argument or snap at each other, you might easily overlook some quirks or frustrations, and everything feels like it’s smooth sailing.
“The honeymoon phase is the very beginning of the relationship when two people are first getting to know each other and everything seems very carefree and happy,” explains Beth Gulotta, LMFT, founder of NYC Therapeutic Wellness.
She says it’s mostly present in securely attached relationships where both partners feel confident and sure about each other’s feelings and desire to pursue the relationship. In other words, there’s less second-guessing about what the other’s thinking or feeling, and both parties are excited to get to know each other better.
Ahead, we’re exploring what the honeymoon phase feels like and how to tell when you’re transitioning out of it. Which, by the way, is completely normal and to be expected. We’re also offering some advice on how to keep the spark alive for years to come.
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What Does the Honeymoon Phase Feel Like?
They call it the honeymoon phase for nothing. Gulotta says, “This phase feels exciting and exhilarating. You talk often and feel like you want to be with this person all the time. You get excited when you see their name pop up on your phone and find little ways to bring them up in conversation to your friends.”
You might also miss them as soon as they leave, think about them often, and feel like your time spent together is carefree and easy.
Other signs you’re in the honeymoon phase include feeling hopeful about your future together and feeling very connected in terms of physical and emotional intimacy.
As wonderful as the honeymoon phase is, be mindful that the infectious and sometimes all-consuming “good” feelings are not blinding you to potential red flags.
“When we are in this phase and enamored with someone, it can be easier to overlook or disregard important characteristics about them,” notes Gulotta. “Stay clear about who the person is in front of you. Do not idealize them or overlook things because you are feeling all the feels.”
Related:5 Green Flags in Relationships
How Do You Know When the Honeymoon Phase Is Over?
The honeymoon phase can last anywhere from six months to several years depending on the couple. When the realities of life start to creep in, and hard conversations start to bubble to the surface, you’ll naturally transition out of the honeymoon phase. This doesn’t mean the blissful feeling is completely gone, but rather that day-to-day life just starts to become the norm instead.
Over time, the intensely strong feelings and infatuation you have for your partner beings to naturally decrease. What you once found an adorable quirk might drive you batty, and you may find yourself being less intentional about spending quality time together or doing nice things for the other in the same way you might have done early on.
When the realities of life start to creep in, and hard conversations start to bubble to the surface, you’ll naturally transition out of the honeymoon phase.
“As the honeymoon phase dies down, you and your partner likely become more of your authentic ‘day-to-day’ selves, and we begin to recognize the flaws in one another,” says Leanna Stockard, LMFT at LifeStance Health. “During this time, we need to assess how we are feeling in the relationship and make the decision if we can continue on in our relationship with our partner—flaws and all.”
She adds that it’s also important to not compare the other person to how you saw them during the honeymoon phase given that you likely saw a more idealistic version of them. Rather, it’s a time to be reflective and to have conversations about what your future together looks like.
The Post-Honeymoon Phase
If you decide to move forward in a healthy relationship, what comes next can be just as—if not more—beautiful than the honeymoon stage.
Here’s where you commit wholly to each other and build an unwavering foundation that can withstand life’s greatest challenges.
“As you go deeper with your partner, you learn more about their ins and outs, and you can appreciate and value your partner in a way beyond the surface levels you may feel during the honeymoon phase,” Stockard says.
Related:Navigating the 4 Stages of a Relationship
6 Ways to Thrive After the Honeymoon Phase Ends
A 2022 study explored reasons why sometimes positive feelings in a relationship fade away after that initial intense honeymoon phase. It found that factors such as stress, boredom, and life’s demands start to impact the quality of your bond. As such, it's important to work against these points of friction in order to nurture a fulling relationship.
Here are some ways you can do that:
Keep Dating: Just because you go from casually seeing one another to a committed relationship does not mean that the dating process needs to end. Continue "dating each other" to keep things exciting. “I recommend trying new experiences, taking risks, doing things you both enjoy and keeping an open mind,” says Stockard.
Ask Questions: Even if we’ve spent a lot of time together, there’s still plenty we may not know or understand about our partners. Keep asking questions and learning about each other.
Remain Transparent: An open line of communication will help keep the spark alive. “This could be in terms of new things you are interested in, an interesting fact you learned that day, or just day-to-day thoughts and feelings,” Stockard says. It seems pretty standard, but deep attachment and connection remain alive through the power of communication. A review published in the Global Journal of Health Science found that excellent communication skills can improve intimacy in relationships.
Have the Tough Convos: Don’t sidestep hard and important conversations, such as when to move in together, whether you want to get married, or how to deal with finances. Letting these topics bubble under the surface can create awkward tension. Be forthright with your desires and understand your partner’s desires. This equips you to make better decisions for each other and your relationship.
Mitigate Conflict: It is completely normal to have arguments with your partner. In fact, arguments are a sign you care about each other and want the other to see your perspective. However, make sure that you’re engaging in conflict in a healthy way, though, by viewing the issue as an “us versus the problem” instead of “me versus you.”
Prioritize Each Other: Continue prioritizing one another’s needs and wants throughout the course of your relationship. Your partner should often be first in line for your affection, time, and energy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Does every relationship have a honeymoon phase?
While many relationships do enjoy that initial lovey-dovey honeymoon phase, not every couple may experience it. However, this isn’t necessarily a sign that something’s wrong.
Stockard says that it probably just indicates that your relationship didn’t start off with strong feelings of infatuation toward the other person and that the attraction and connection built slowly as you got to know each other better.
Is the honeymoon phase real love?
The feelings that you hold for someone early on in your relationship are valid. And if you feel love for your partner then, you can fully embrace that. However, those feelings may not last forever as you begin to settle into a routine with your partner. So, it's still important to make the effort to really get to know your partner so that you can ensure you're compatible and share similar life goals.
The foundation of a healthy romantic relationship is trust, connection, open communication, physical intimacy, and love. If you have those things in your relationship, then that’s what matters most of all.
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