The honeymoon period describes the early stages of a relationship, when everything is new and exciting. It can include butterflies in your belly before a date, goosebumps when your new partner calls, constant text messaging and social media activity between the two of you and hours spent fantasizing about your blissful future together. It's an amazing time, but it doesn't last forever.
The "Idealization" Phase
Psychologists call the honeymoon period the "idealization" phase, explains Dr. Joy Davidson, because during this time we convince ourselves that our new partner has all the characteristics of our perfect mate. We pull out all the stops to prove that we are the perfect match for them too. After a few weeks, months or years -- depending on how lucky they are -- the majority of couples find that reality has well and truly set in. Bad habits are all too apparent. Sexy lingerie is replaced by comfy sweats, and a good night's sleep often takes priority over a night of passion. It's not that people change after a certain length of time, it just becomes more apparent who they really are.
How Long Does It Last?
There is no exact science when it comes to the duration of the honeymoon period. It depends on the individuals, their lifestyles and any external pressures on the relationship. If a couple has a long-distance relationship the honeymoon period may last longer than it would if the pair lived closer to each other, purely because they spend a lot of time apart and therefore make more of an effort when they are together. According to a poll of 5,000 married couples carried out by onepoll.com, the honeymoon is well and truly over after two years of marriage. For many couples, the end comes much sooner.
What Happens Next?
After the honeymoon period ends the real relationship can start, agree psychologists. It may take a bit of time, effort and commitment to accept that the person you are with is not who you thought you fell in love with, says Davidson, but this is what is required to discover a love that transcends time. Real love takes a daily commitment, agrees Shelly Bullard, a licensed marriage and family therapist.
Recapturing the Excitement
It's natural to think back longingly to those early days of fun and lust, no matter how much you love your partner. It's not too difficult to put a bit more spark into your relationship, says an Aug. 19, 2009, article in "Cosmopolitan." If you've got into a rut of spending evenings together slumped in front of the television, go out and socialize with friends. Watching your partner interact with others helps you see him in a different light. Arrange a regular date night: both of you dress to impress and meet at a romantic restaurant or stylish bar. Be spontaneous: surprise your partner with a handmade card telling him how you feel about him, or send him a saucy email asking him to meet you in the bedroom when he gets home from work.
- Dr. Joy Davidson: So Your Relationship’s Honeymoon Phase Is Over? Here’s the Surprising Good News
- This Is About Love: How to Repeat the Honeymoon Phase (Over & Over Again)
- Psychology Today: Mindfulness and the Phases of a Relationship
- eHarmony: When the Honeymoon Phase is Over
- Cosmopolitan: 10 Ways to Recapture the Honeymoon Period
- Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images