The “honeymoon phase” is often spoken about as the most exciting time of any relationship.
But it commonly comes to an end one way or another. The question is: Should it?
Should all relationships focus on creating a long-lasting honeymoon period, or is this blissful phase designed to naturally fade away?
Read on to find out all the answers.
In the early stage of a new relationship, everything often feels exciting as you bond with and fall for your partner(s).
That’s the honeymoon phase, otherwise known as New Relationship Energy (NRE).
“It’s as if you’re both in a magic bubble, and the rest of the world doesn’t intrude because you feel so connected,” says Neil Wilkie, psychotherapist, relationship expert, and creator of online therapy platform The Relationship Paradigm.
The word “honeymoon” is a modern version of the Old English term, “hony moone.”
It appears to have been first used in the 16th century, referring to the fleeting sweetness of a new marriage.
(At that time, newly married couples were also given mead, which was made by fermenting honey and water.)
The “moon” aspect is thought to link to the short amount of time that married couples would experience this pleasure— “from full to waning,” as the dictionary puts it, or around a month.
In fact, people tended to use the phrase in a negative way centuries ago, reminding newlyweds that their current bliss wouldn’t last.
So it makes sense that modern-day English has added the word “phase” onto the end to further emphasize how brief the period can be.
Of course, nowadays, “honeymoon phase” doesn’t strictly apply to marriages.
Any new relationship or milestone can spark it.
You may struggle to find the term “honeymoon phase” in scientific literature.
But its effects have been noted.
As therapeutic relationship and life coach Pascale Lane explains, “The scientific name for the honeymoon phase is ‘limerence,’ which essentially is the excitement and flood of chemicals over a prolonged period of time.”
“Limerence” was coined back in the 1970s in psychologist Dorothy Tennov’s book, “Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love.”
She described it as “an involuntary interpersonal state that involves an acute longing for emotional reciprocation, obsessive-compulsive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and emotional dependence on another person.”
And a combination of powerful hormones appear to drive this lustful period.
“Interestingly, the stress hormone cortisol is
The passion that comes in the honeymoon stage has also been found to have a link to
It helps neurons in the body develop and function and could boost euphoric feelings, according to the study’s authors.
Even the fleeting nature of the honeymoon phase has been examined.
However, the majority of men said their satisfaction levels remained steady.
There’s no set duration —everyone is different.
Tennov estimated that limerence lasts for around 2 years. But others note that the honeymoon phase can sometimes last for just a few months.
It depends on the amount of time the couple spends together, notes Taylor Sparks, erotic educator and founder of online intimacy store Organic Loven.
Some people may never have a honeymoon phase, instead experiencing a slow-burning relationship based on mutual interests and pleasurable experiences.
If you check that box, try not to panic.
A healthy, long-lasting relationship is built on more than initial passion.
And you may experience elements of the honeymoon spark throughout your time together, rather than a powerful blast at the very beginning.
“It’s not hard to know if you’re in this phase,” says Rachel Vida MacLynn, chartered psychologist, fellow of the British Psychological Society, and founder of Maclynn International.
“You’ll want to spend all your time with each other, and intimacy between you is new and exciting,” says MacLynn.
Another sign to take note of is feeling like your partner(s) can do no wrong, according to Sparks.
“Everything they say or do brings the feeling of butterflies in the stomach and a light airiness to the head,” explains Sparks. “Every encounter is ‘swoon-worthy.’”
Thanks to the raging hormones, “there’s also a high level of impulsivity and low level of judgment,” states Lane, who is also the author of “How to be Happy in Life and Love: A Guide to Living the Life You Deserve.”
Think about the saying “love is blind,” she says, and the fact that “you may not see all the warning signs as they present themselves.”
Every expert we spoke with had the same answer: yes.
“As necessary as this phase is in forming your relationship, it can’t last forever,” says Lane.
“The adrenaline that keeps you both excited and high on love needs to eventually come to an end and, in many respects, it’s only after this period is over that the real relationship begins.
“Fundamentally,” she continues, “a lasting relationship is about overcoming difficulties together —not never having them in the first place.”
But some people develop a kind of dependency on the feeling.
They may “jump from one relationship to another just to get the hit of the ‘honeymoon high,’” notes Sparks.
Scientifically, the surge in hormones will drop, says MacLynn, and “you’re going to see things as they truly are.”
Try not to view the dose of reality as a bad thing.
Yes, you may begin to notice some irritating traits that your partner(s) has and may want to start spending more time with people outside of the relationship.
But, as Sparks says, “there are better things to come after the honeymoon. Love only comes with the known, meaning you have to know the person in order to be in love with them.”
And that, she adds, “takes time.”
Naturally, you’ll begin to move from a focus on the “us” to give more attention to the “me” and “you,” Wilkie explains, “helping to nourish these parts and helping them to grow.”
Eventually, the aim is to form a deeper attachment that paves the way for a healthy relationship full of trust and the ability to resolve conflict.
First, try to accept that the honeymoon phase isn’t sustainable, says Wilkie.
Then focus your energy on “creating a future together where [you’re both] aligned and working on the six key elements.”
Of course, there are plenty of ways to keep the spark going in your relationship.
Lane says couples should try to prioritize each other — “not to the extent that you may have done at the beginning of your relationship but as much as you can.”
That could mean making time to eat together, laugh together, and go out together as well as time for intimacy.
“Most importantly,” she adds, “ask your partner(s) what they enjoy.”
According to Sparks, “the saying ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ has some truth to it.”
“Taking time away from each other, whether that’s by way of vacation or doing separate hobbies, can give you time to miss [each other], if only for a few days.”
Having separate interests also gives you and your partner(s) something novel to share.
“You get to see their excitement through their eyes and applaud them as they learn or enjoy something new,” explains Sparks.
Adding to that sense of thrill in other ways can also help revive a relationship.
Plan date nights that are different to your usual routine, recommends MacLynn.
“Book a special restaurant, plan a surprise, dress up, and make it romantic,” adds MacLynn. “Reminisce about the early days of getting to know one another and recapture that early magic.”
She also talks about tuning into your partner or partners’ love language.
“If it’s physical touch, then maybe they would like a romantic massage,” says MacLynn. “Or perhaps they’d love it if you wrote them a poem or love letter, or even a special gift box with memories from your relationship.”
“When we have been in our relationships for some time, we can become lazy in complimenting or admiring what makes our partner(s) exciting,” adds Sparks.
A fun and easy way to shake things up, for those who are feeling more adventurous, is to play the “monogamish” game.
“Go out to a bar or club separately and watch each other flirt and be hit on by others,” says Sparks.
“When we see others being attracted to our mates, it can be exciting, in an odd way, to know that they are still desired by others.”
She continues, “Sometimes, that attention gives us an opportunity to ask our partner(s) what the other person said (or did) that they found exciting and we can make adjustments to do the same.”
Ultimately, though, relationships are about communication.
Remember, says Lane, that “talking to each other openly and honestly isn’t only vital for a healthy relationship, but is also incredibly sexy.”
Revel in the honeymoon phase, but know that it isn’t meant to last forever.
When it ends, “the relationship is going from magic to reality,” says Wilkie.
And that’s never a bad thing.
Lauren Sharkey is a U.K.-based journalist and author specializing in women’s issues. When she isn’t trying to discover a way to banish migraines, she can be found uncovering the answers to your lurking health questions. She has also written a book profiling young female activists across the globe and is currently building a community of such resisters. Catch her on Twitter.