Picture this: Your friend begs you to make a Tinder profile (and you cave), then reminds you to actually use it (so you do) and one night in bed as you're swiping, you come across the profile of the most beautiful person you've ever laid eyes on. You swipe right (because why not?) and a chat pings on your phone because they have, too!
Days later, you set up a time to meet (nothing fancy, let's say a patio brunch) and you're both hitting it off. The sun is out, you're a few drinks in and your conversation's moved past favorite colors and hobbies to favorite past times and all your hopes and dreams.
Now, days turn into weeks, and you're sleeping over for nights at a time, planning who's cooking what and deciding who's going to stay where, while simultaneously putting your friends and favorite hobbies on the back-burner.
You can't help but feel stuck now, because maybe you had your first disagreement or you've postponed plans with your sibling — again — and are not really sure how to address either. This is when you know you've been in the honeymoon phase... and it's time to transition out of it.
What is the "honeymoon phase" in a relationship?
The honeymoon phase is the infatuation stage at the beginning of a new relationship — when a couple is foolishly, childishly, blissfully "in like" with one another. Someone experiencing this honeymoon magic might feel butterflies in their stomach when they're around their partner and might want to be in the presence of their partner 24/7 — sometimes in place of their alone time or plans with others. They may even develop a carefree outlook on life for a period of time because of the rush of positive energy that comes with dating a new person.
The end of the infatuation stage
As you start getting used to one another, you might complain a little more, stop dressing up as much to see each other and your conversations might start getting more and more TMI. Evenings on the town might turn into split responsibilities between cooking and dishwashing, and the peeves that were fogged by the "love in the air" might grow clearer, and warrant a response.
These changes aren't all bad, though; they're completely natural and to be expected as you learn more about your significant other and start to weave this new relationship into your everyday life.
Does the honeymoon phase have to end?
If you think about the honeymoon phase as just a phase, then yes, it'll eventually end like any other. But the end of the honeymoon phase doesn't need to mean the end of the honeymoon energy.
7 ways to smoothly transition out of the honeymoon phase
We've rounded up some helpful tips to support the smoothest transition possible throughout this time — without sacrificing the sparks.
1. Get clear about what you're looking for — fast.
As the infatuation stage begins to subside, you'll want to get clear about what you're looking for. Start this conversation with yourself, and identify your expectations for having a partner. Are you looking for a really good listener, in particular? Must they share the same denomination as you? Is smoking OK?
Once you've identified those expectations, consider the same for a relationship. What kind of relationship are you looking for, if any? How much of your life — and what parts — are you willing to share? Then, communicate this to your partner.
2. Make time for yourself.
Sure, you and your partner might love binge-watching Netflix Originals or ordering from that one Mexican restaurant, but while both experiences can be enjoyed together, you can also take pleasure in them alone. You should always make time for yourself, regardless of whatever stage your relationship's in, so you don't lose yourself in it. And certainly, there are things you enjoy that your partner does not, so make sure to prioritize those interests.
3. Create some ground rules for arguing.
You're bound to disagree with your partner at some point, so you'll want to create healthy resolution strategies for when you do. Together, you can come up with some ground rules for arguing. Consider some of the following:
- Agree to speak as warmly as possible to one another — and correct your tone when it starts getting icy.
- Start the post-argument conversation by saying, "I love you", before continuing to share your thoughts and feelings.
- Check in with your partner about their feelings and your own — a quick "how are you feeling?" does the trick.
- Ask if your partner can say what they mean a different way — and check in to see if you can rephrase what you've said.
- Excuse yourself from the conversation to reflect and recollect — basically, step out for some fresh air when you need it.
- And hug — seriously — either during or after the argument to relieve some edge and tension.
4. Plan monthly outings.
Outings can include anniversary dinner dates or monthly excursions, but making regular plans will help establish some fun traditions that both of you can look forward to. This is also a great time to check some things off your bucket list! Perhaps schedule a cooking class, buy tickets to a music festival or face a fear together.
5. Learn each other's love language.
Personality tests like the Myers Briggs and Enneagram Test are trending right now, and knowing what "type you are" can help you excel professionally and personally. The same can be said for the love languages quiz, which provides insight into how you emotionally communicate. By taking the quiz with your partner, you'll be better able to understand the way you both feel and receive love in order to connect more deeply and directly.
6. Make plans with friends and family.
Part of why the honeymoon phase can be so disorienting is because we often shut others out to tune into our new partners. But you don't want to make this a habit. Remember that you are your own person with your own friends, family and network to catch up with. Make plans with them and enjoy being who you are as your other identities. It'll make you that much more excited when you see your partner, because you'll look forward to stepping into that identity when it's time.
7. Plan a trip.
Similar to my fourth suggestion, but this time bigger! Plan a cross-country trip or stamp your passport in a new country. Traveling together means trying new foods, walking new trails and changing your "normal," overall. A change of environment can potentially refresh an already comfortable pair, so the reorientation offers new opportunities to learn more about one another — and yourselves.