During the early phases of a relationship -- the so-called "honeymoon stage" -- partners are still getting to know what makes each other tick. It's an exhilarating time when the thrill of the unknown makes everything seem possible. This period may last for weeks, months or even a couple of years (if you are lucky); it all depends on external circumstances and how the couple approaches the relationship. In every relationship, the honeymoon stage comes to an end, and for many couples this can be make-or-break time.
Back to Reality
According to Joy Davidson, who holds a doctorate in clinical psychology and a master’s in counseling psychology, psychologists call the honeymoon stage the "idealization" phase, because at this time we are still convinced -- or still trying to convince ourselves -- that we have found perfection. In the article "So Your Relationship’s Honeymoon Phase Is Over? Here’s the Surprising Good News" published on her own website, Dr. Davidson explains that the more you get to know someone, the more apparent it becomes that the individual is not perfect, and this may lead you to believe you have not found the ideal match. By being aware that the honeymoon stage is not reality, you make your relationship more likely to last.
The Truth About Love
A real relationship begins when the honeymoon stage ends. If you really want a long-term, committed partner, you may have to change how you think about love, romance and relationships in general. Instead of worrying about the end of the honeymoon stage, embrace the challenge of discovering long-lasting love. See the good in your partner and commit to making your relationship work. It's not easy, but it can be extremely rewarding. Real love takes a daily commitment, says Shelly Bullard, a licensed marriage and family therapist, in her article "How to Repeat the Honeymoon Phase (Over & Over Again)," published on her own website. Remember that nobody -- not even yourself -- is perfect.
Let's Be Friends
The passion that forms a connection between two people at the start of a relationship is not enough to sustain a bond that stands the test of time. Focus on building trust, sharing ambitions and values, and becoming a true friend to your partner. In the "Psychology Today" article "7 Keys to Long-Term Relationship Success," Preston Ni, M.S.B.A, suggests sharing as much as possible with your partner, such as exercising, traveling, learning and problem-solving. This will help to form the basis of a meaningful, long-lasting connection.
The Curse of Complacency
Just because the honeymoon stage is over, you don't have to stop making an effort. You can still have an exciting, passionate relationship -- no matter how long you have been together. It takes effort, however. Don't let yourselves fall into the trap of spending every evening together slumped on the sofa watching television. Go out and socialize with friends; watching one another socially interact can give you another perspective on your relationship. Make your relationship a priority by arranging regular "date" nights, even if you live together. Be spontaneous by embarking on weekend getaways and making thoughtful gestures that will keep the spark in your relationship, such as popping a love letter into your boyfriend's briefcase before he leaves for work or drawing your girlfriend a candlelit bath at the end of a tiring day.
C. Giles is a writer with an MA (Hons) in English literature and a post-graduate diploma in law. Her work has been published in several publications, both online and offline, including "The Herald," "The Big Issue" and "Daily Record."
Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images