The Honeymoon Phase: Passion, Pitfalls and Practical Advice
There are specifically defined stages in every long term romantic relationship that come with unique ups and downs. The “honeymoon” phase is probably the most well known relationship stage, because it is at the beginning of a relationship so every relationship has a honeymoon phase. The honeymoon stage is also well known because it is one of the most exciting and passionate stages in a relationship. During the honeymoon phase, partners are typically “drunk on love” because of the chemicals that are released in your brain as you first start falling in love with your partner. The combination of oxytocin, phenylethylamine, serotonin, and dopamine that are released in the brain when you are newly in love with a partner literally cause new lovebirds to get drunk off of love during the honeymoon phase.
These feel good chemicals heighten your excitement and desire for one another and cause people to become infatuated with their partners. During this stage of infatuation, it is often hard to see the bigger picture. Couples in the honeymoon stages often have on “rose colored glasses” that prevent them from seeing any flaws in their partner or general incompatibility in their relationship. This means that people often miss red flags, because they are so into their new partner they can’t find any faults in what is happening, even if these things are clear to people in their inner circles.
While the honeymoon phase almost always happens at the beginning of a relationship, it’s important to note that relationship phases are not necessarily cyclical, and that a relationship can have multiple honeymoon phases. The honeymoon phase can last anywhere from two months to two years. But no matter how long you are in the honeymoon phase, it’s important to understand the different challenges your relationship might go through. While enjoying all the passion of the honeymoon phase, it’s important to be aware that there are pitfalls as well.
Here is some practical advice to consider while navigating the honeymoon phase of a relationship:
Prioritize time together
The honeymoon phase is all about getting to know your partner. Some couples spend the honeymoon phase locked inside of the bedroom, which is tempting and also mostly acceptable, as long as you are getting to know your partner on a deeper emotional level. Like we mentioned, the honeymoon phase is the first phase of the relationship and so while you may be drawn together by initial attraction, it’s important to see if this attraction bridges the gap from physical attraction to emotional attraction. The honeymoon phase is about exploration and figuring out if you and this person can actually make it as a couple once the initial infatuation wears off.
In order to do this, it’s important to spend time together. When you are together, try to avoid being on your phones so that you are forced to actually talk and test your connection. You should not totally drop all of your friends in order to hang out with your new boo, but you should try to prioritize your time as a couple so that you can make sure that the relationship is a good use of your time early on. If you find that there isn’t much going for you aside from the physical attraction, then it’s better to know this early on.
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Enjoy the ride but evaluate along the way
While a romantic relationship can cycle back to the honeymoon stage, the honeymoon stage normally happens at the beginning of a relationship when you are first getting to know your partner. This stage is one of the most carefree parts of a relationship, so make sure that you enjoy the ride! Enjoy the butterfly feelings you get around them and the near constant sex.
Revel in learning new things about each other and having novel experiences as a couple. Enjoy the carefree ride that often characterizes the honeymoon phase, but make sure that you are taking some time to evaluate your relationship and your emotions along the way. The honeymoon phase is all about infatuation, but after a while, this will start to wear off and you will be able to evaluate if you really like this person when you are all hopped up on Oxytocin, Dopamine, etc. If you aren’t putting much thought into the relationship in general, you might overlook red flags or obvious incompatibilities. This isn’t to say that you should look for red flags that aren’t there, or that you should overthink everything in the early stages.
Just that you should be sure to check in with yourself and even take some time away from your new boo so that you can evaluate how you feel. Even though spending time apart might be the last thing you want to do when you are in the honeymoon phase, just taking a day or two by yourself can help you stay grounded in a new relationship. Think of it this way, when you are in the honeymoon phase, you should enjoy the ride, but remember that as the driver you still have some responsibility.
Set good patterns early on
It’s important to remember that even if you are just so happy to be around a new partner no matter what is going on, that patterns are often set in the beginning of a relationship. And like a habit, patterns can be hard to change over the course of a relationship. Like we mentioned before, people often see their partner through rose colored glasses at the beginning of the relationships, which means that they often let their partner get away with things that they would not normally let slide. This can be things related to boundaries, patterns of communication and bigger things like who makes compromises in the relationship.
So, while it’s important to enjoy each other’s company and fully embrace the whirlwind of the honeymoon phase, it’s also important to make sure that you are setting the rest of your relationship up for success by setting good boundaries early on. Though boundaries can be adjusted over time (and should as you and your partner change and as the relationship changes) it can be harder if good boundaries are not established early on. When we talk about boundaries we mean standards about things like communication, personal space, sharing, finances, etc. etc.
It is important to talk about your expectations for these things early on so that you and your partner are both on the same page and acting in respectful ways. Lots of people are tempted to just go with the flow, especially because articulating some of these boundaries can be difficult or uncomfortable, but avoiding the conversation in the early stages will only make it more difficult to bring up further on in your relationship.
Recognize timeline differences
While it might be hard to recognize personality incompatibilities during the honeymoon phase (remember what we said about all those chemicals being released in your brain), it is possible to recognize timeline differences that could get in the way of a more serious relationship further down the line. Timeline incompatibilities are often at the root of a lot of relationship problems, so recognizing these differences early on and deciding if these are things you can compromise about, or if you should go your separate ways can save you a lot of heartbreak.
So what is a timeline difference anyway? Let’s say that owning a house is very important to one partner, they might prioritize saving money for a house over doing other things so that they can accomplish home ownership according to their timeline. If that is not a priority for their partner, this may create problems in the relationship. The partner may prioritize traveling over saving money for a house, because they plan to take that step later in time.
This type of difference can cause huge rifts in a relationship because it affects spending habits, short term and long term goals. Timelines aren’t just applicable to buying a house, timelines related to careers, continuing education, having children and making other big life choices can also create problems in your relationship if you and your partner are not on the same page. Discussing what you want your future to look like in a general way (there is no need to have your five year plan totally hammered out at this point) will help you understand if your relationship is cut out to go the distance.
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Remember to ask important relationship questions
During the honeymoon phase, it’s important to ask questions about the future. While it’s tempting to live in the present and avoid talking about serious things out of a fear of ruining the new relationship, it’s important to have serious talks about your relationship early on if you want the relationship to progress past the honeymoon phase. Asking important relationship questions about monogamy, thoughts about marriage versus long term partnership, having children and buying a house are all important subjects to broach even during the honeymoon phase of a relationship. Of course this should be done with some degree of tact.
There is no need to talk about the number of kids you want to have/what you plan to name them all while you are on the fourth or fifth date. It is possible to keep things fun and bright while getting a better understanding of your long term compatibility as a couple. Figuring out these things early on will help you navigate other phases of the relationship with more ease, because you know where your partner stands. If discussing these important relationship questions does lead to an impasse (and things are ruined, which is a genuine fear in early stages), then just know that while it is hard, it is better to learn about these incompatibilities early on, before your feelings become stronger.
If your relationship progresses past the honeymoon phase and then you start to learn about irreconcilable differences, it will be much more difficult to part ways because your feelings will be stronger and your lives will be more intertwined. There’s definitely a fine line when it’s too early to ask these types of questions, but erring on the side of early is better than waiting too long and finding out that things are not destined to work out.
During the honeymoon phase, everything feels fun and new and exciting. But as we all know, relationships don’t carry on like this forever, and eventually, a sense of normalcy will get established in the relationship. When this happens, a lot of people begin to panic. Afterall, the honeymoon phase is fun and a lot of people wish that it could last forever. But rather than panic, you should try to embrace this feeling of normalcy. Normalcy indicates that you and your partner are getting more comfortable around each other and that the relationship is getting more and more serious, which is a good thing if you are looking for a serious romantic partner.
If you want your relationship to go the distance, you shouldn’t worry about the relationship starting to feel normal (it’s bound to happen after all), instead you should focus on embracing this normalcy and recognizing it as a step in the right direction. If your relationship is starting to feel normal, and you realize that you and your partner are actually not that compatible, then that’s a totally different situation. Couples often fear that with normalcy comes less sex. And while this is often the case, this is also something that you can prepare for if it is a fear of yours.
If you want to continue to have sex like you are still in the honeymoon phase, consciously prioritize sex and make it a part of your new normal. There’s nothing wrong with scheduling sex on the calendar if that’s what it takes to keep your sex life active after the honeymoon phase is over.
Keep your friends close
During the honeymoon phase, it can be tempting to spend all of your time with your new partner. And like we mentioned above, it is super important to spend a lot of time together during the initial stages of a relationship to make sure that you are compatible with each other. But spending time with your new partner should not come at the expense of your relationships with your friends and family. No one likes a friend that drops their inner circle as soon as they get a new boo, so make a conscious effort not to be this person!
If you and this new partner are going to go the distance and make it out of the honeymoon phase, you will have to manage balancing your romantic relationship with the other relationships that exist in your life. At the end of the day, you really don’t know if a relationship will make it out of the honeymoon phase, because there are so many different factors that determine if a relationship goes the distance. So completely prioritizing your new partner over friendships you have had for years is just never a good look. Plus, it’s important to keep your friends close so that you have a support system whether things work out or not. Your friends will be able to support you through the breakup or through the inevitable ups and downs of your relationship if it does move past the honeymoon phase.
Keeping your friends close also needs to come with the recognition that your partner should be doing the same. Don’t pressure a new partner into ditching their friends for you or breaking standing plans. It’s important that they maintain a good relationship with their friends as well. Maintaining good relationships outside of your romantic relationship will help both of you strike a good balance and avoid becoming too dependent on one another.
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Remember that the Honeymoon Phase comes to an end
After embracing normalcy in your relationship, your relationship will move out of the Honeymoon Phase, into the much more difficult Power Struggle Phase of the relationship. And while this may seem sad or scary, remember that if you want your relationship to progress, you have to move past the stage of infatuation into the phases that are characterized by much deeper connection and love.
It is okay to mourn the end of the Honeymoon Phase as you navigate the more complex emotions associated with the power struggle phase of the relationship, but remember that all Honeymoon Phases come to an end, and there are much more rewarding and fulfilling emotions on the horizon.
Try out Therapy
Even if you are in the early stages of a relationship, it is almost never too soon to try out couples therapy together. A common misconception about couples therapy is that only couples that are struggling or only couples that have major problems should go, but this could not be further from the truth. Couples therapy is appropriate for relationships at any stage, including the honeymoon phase!
Going to therapy in the early stages of your relationship is a great habit to establish from the get-go. Plus, going to couples therapy will help you work out problems that arise in the beginning of your relationship before they become bigger and more problematic down the line. Making the investment early on can save you from much more difficult therapy further down the road.
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