Ah, the honeymoon phase. Those early days in your relationship when all of their jokes are funny, other couples suck in comparison to you, and every song on the radio is about you. The length of the honeymoon phase is different for every relationship, but one thing is always true: it’s what you do after the honeymoon that counts.
According to Rachel DeAlto, chief dating expert for Match, it is completely normal for the honeymoon phase to end, and possibly, she says, “even good for the long-term health of the relationship and for people to see each other more clearly.” When you’re in the honeymoon phase, it is easy to view your partner through rose-colored glasses, and you might even overlook potential red flags. But when the newness wears off and you step out of the romantic comedy you were living in, you start to pay attention to the more important things—and healthy communication becomes a must (more on this later).
Some signs that the honeymoon phase is over could be less frequent communication throughout the day, less sex, or less romantic gestures. On the other hand, it can also cause you to start to feel more comfortable being your true self around your partner. You see that they are not perfect, so you no longer feel like you have to be. DeAlto explains, “to develop a long-term, significant, and healthy relationship, we need to see each other clearly and accept our flaws and peccadilloes.” So how do you do that intentionally? Try these tips to help your relationship thrive long beyond the honeymoon phase:
“Self-awareness is key,” DeAlto says. Maybe you don’t directly point out to your partner that you’ve exited the honeymoon phase (or hey, maybe you do!), but you need to acknowledge it with yourself. DeAlto believes that “recognizing that your emotions are normal is so important at the end of the honeymoon phase.” Every couple reaches this point, and if you handle it right, it can be a great milestone for the relationship.
Take note of how you are feeling about the relationship overall, and decide what you want the future to look like.
This is the perfect opportunity to talk to your partner about all the things. Setting the tone for your communication early on is essential for a healthy, long-lasting relationship. After you’ve recognized how you are feeling and what you want, voice these things to your partner by using clear and positive communication and by avoiding these phrases.
Talk About Sex
While the communication gates are open, why not bring up the tougher stuff? Maybe you’ve come off the honeymoon-high, and you’re realizing the sex isn’t as good as you want it to be, you wish you were having more of it, or there are some new sexual fantasies you want to try. Having these conversations now will avoid frustration down the road, and it may also reignite the spark that was starting to fade.
When talking to your partner about sex, Dr. Kristie Overstreet, certified sex therapist and clinical sexologist, recommends always coming to the conversation with an open mind, ditching your ego, and remembering that everyone is different. Your partner’s sex drive is not going to be exactly the same as yours, and what they like will not always necessarily be what you like. Talking these things through and asking for what you want is what leads to great sex.
Prioritize Time Together
In the honeymoon phase, you are probably spending a ton of time together without even thinking about it. But once you start to move beyond that stage, you’ll find yourself craving more me time, and finally stepping out of your relationship bubble to catch up with friends. This is totally normal, healthy, and necessary.
When you notice this happening, make it a point to plan activities together. This could be as simple as a movie night on the couch with your favorite takeout or as romantic as a reservation at a restaurant you’ve both been dying to try. My advice? A balance of both. You might have spent the majority of your honeymoon phase locked in the bedroom, so whatever your (other) favorite activities are, put in the effort to stop talking about them and actually plan them.
Try Something New
On that note, studies show that trying new things actually brings couples closer together. This doesn’t mean you have to be going on lavish adventures together every week, but even switching things up with a cooking class or a day trip to explore a new place will help the two of you bond, keep things fresh, and get to know each other even better.
“Just because your honeymoon phase is ending doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed,” DeAlto reminds us. If you find yourself worried about your sex life, wondering how you will keep the spark alive, or if your relationship will end with the honeymoon phase, just remember that “the beautiful part of relationships is that we can be authentic and imperfect and be truly loved because of it all and not despite it.”
So brush up on your communication skills, ask for what you want, try the things you’ve always wanted to try, and embrace this exciting next phase of your relationship.