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When Does the Honeymoon Phase of a Relationship End?
Relationship Advice

When Does the Honeymoon Phase of a Relationship End?

How long does the honeymoon phase of love really last? Here's the 3 signs it is over, and 4 psychologist-approved tips on what to do when sweetness wears off.

Together Team
January 26, 2022

This post was medically reviewed by Daniel Dashnaw, M.A., M.S., MFT.

If you are in a fresh relationship, chances are you are experiencing the honeymoon phase of it right now: you feel full of hope, faithful in your future together, and generally happy around your partner. The chemistry between you two is good and you are having a lot of fun, both in and out of the bedroom.

It is known generally as being in love with one another. But, does the honeymoon phase end? Unfortunately, it does. Yet, there’s life after the fairytale. New levels of intimacy and commitment can come from having an optimal length honeymoon phase, successful long-term relationships being built on the connection formed in this period.

Read further to find out what is the honeymoon phase in dating, how long does the honeymoon phase last, and what to do after it is over. 

What is the honeymoon phase in dating?

The first part of a relationship is often called the honeymoon phase thanks to its high, refreshing energy. Meeting someone new and stepping into a long-term relationship comes with joy, passion, and a lot of hope. 

Professionals call this initial period of a relationship the honeymoon phase referring to its sweetness and overall pleasant atmosphere. Also, in the old days, couples used to get married faster and the first months of a relationship would often be the first months of the marriage too.

The honeymoon phase of a relationship is a given period of time that occurs usually at the beginning of the romantic affair. In this period a strong bond is established and the pair is building the foundation of the long-term relationship. 

You can think of it as a starting flame for a steady fire: intense, hot, and rapid. When the “combustion” is completed, it’s when the honeymoon phase ends. But what happens after the honeymoon phase of dating is over may bring a new sense of union and trust for the couple.

What does the honeymoon phase feel like?

Some of the honeymoon phase characteristics in a relationship may sound like heaven on earth, but scientists also talk about its less glamorous aspects. Let’s go through the usual honeymoon phase signs:

  • The partner seems perfect, literally. Flaws are often overlooked or subconsciously ignored
  • Conflict is low
  • High sex drive and frequent sexual-related activities
  • Losing time notion when the couple is together
  • Similarities are highlighted and differences are diminished
  • Both tend to isolate from friends and family to be together
  • Frequent physical sensations like butterflies in the stomach, blushing, and palpitations

Now, at the other end of the honeymoon phase, scientists found it to be a pretty stressful period. Because of the high energy that’s involved in it, it seems to heighten the production of cortisol in the body, the stress hormone. Certain neurotransmitters, like dopamine, that drive states of ecstasy, reward, and motivation are highly released in the brain.

When the honeymoon phase ends, the arousal decreases and it makes space for stability, conscious intimacy, and real commitment.

How long does the honeymoon phase last?

The honeymoon period ends in a new relationship anywhere from 6 months to 2 years into the affair. How many months the honeymoon phase lasts depends on the level of chemistry, partners’ past experiences, and management means (like living together, time spent apart, family and friends interfering with your relationship, etc). 

However, no two couples are the same. The answer to “when does the honeymoon phase end?” can drastically vary from one love story to another. There are couples for which the honeymoon phase ends after 3 months and others that managed to keep the spark alive into the 8th year of marriage. 

Typically, the honeymoon phase ends after 6 months to one year into the relationship. What’s important to know it’s that the honeymoon period wears off gradually and it may take a few months until a new relationship phase is established. 

Professionals note that the most successful marriages happen when the honeymoon phase ends after 6-12 months and is fully enjoyed by both partners. A 13-years long study suggests that couples that idealized one another in the early stage of their relationship stay in love after marriage and are less likely to experience a steep decrease in their chemistry.

Another question that may arise is if the honeymoon phase can last forever. For a healthy, stable relationship, it shouldn't. The honeymoon period should end to make space for true commitment. Forcing the honeymoon phase too much can cause tension and break up.

When does the honeymoon phase of a relationship end? 3 common signs

When the honeymoon phase ends in a relationship, there are new dynamics that enter the scene. You may feel worried that the relationship is not working out in the long run, but take it as it is: a new phase in your relationship. 

When does the honeymoon period end in a relationship? Check out the most common signs:

  1. You start noticing differences between you two -  you begin to become aware of the fact your partner is not perfect, but they have their own unprocessed emotions, habits, and way of life. It occurs often when the couple lives together for a continuous period of time. Conflicts can arise more frequently when the honeymoon phase ends.
  1. You search company of friends and family more - after having eyes only for your significant other, you begin to desire the company of other people again. You are making common friends and you start having a social life outside the relationship too. Also, you start paying attention to other aspects of life too, like your career and finances.
  1. Sex drive plateaus - you do not feel as much lust as at the beginning, your sexual activity becoming more regular (not necessarily less intense). Also, you feel safer with your partner and do not feel the need to put makeup on or dress in a certain way. You can still enjoy your partner’s company a lot, but not only in a sexual way.

If you are or have been in a long-term relationship, these signs may be familiar to you. They do not mean that the fun is over but show a new dimension of what marital or family life is like. When the honeymoon phase ends, the connection between you two should be strong enough to allow both to be imperfect, moody, and human. 

The end of the honeymoon period can also bring out feelings of disappointment (that the fantasmal perfection is not real), confusion and uncertainty. They are 100% normal and you can share them with your partner. This will better the communication in the relationship and make the best of the new phases that follow.

What happens after the honeymoon phase of dating is over?

When honeymoon phase ends, a lot of couples step into engagement, marriage, having children or just living together permanently. What happened in the first 2 years of relationship was that you were getting to know each other and you’ve set up a bond. After this time, your relationship matures.

But just like growing up, transitioning to a mature relationship may not be always pretty: conflict arises, there are times of tension, you set up personal space, you share house chores and money. If a child is involved, the honeymoon period ending can come with more distress for the couple. 

Solving problems, communicating and collaborating is a big part of building a mature relationship. Even if you may feel a bit off when the honeymoon phase ends, what comes after is a fruitful period. You both learn how to work together, how to express love accurately and give feedback with respect. 

Next steps: what to do when the honeymoon phase ends?

If you find yourself asking when will the honeymoon phase end, you are probably approaching the next stages of your relationship. Especially because when the honeymoon period ends it’s the first time you really start questioning your romantic love.  

Here are some practical tips for you to make the best out of your honeymoon phase ending and making room for long lasting intimacy:

  • Keep calm - having the bubble of perfect love bursted can cause you a feeling of urgency and confusion. Honeymoon phase was, well, a phase and the transition between this and actual marriage is also going to pass. Talk to your partner (you may have similar experiences), stay well-informed on the stages of relationships and acknowledge that your feelings are normal.
  • Stay realistic - you and your partner are two separate beings, bought together by what is called love. Neigther you nor your partner is not forced to fulfill a fantasy or an unrealistic image. Have a talk on expectations, work on your personal family content and be reasonable with yourself and your significant other.
  • Ask questions - when you are no longer idealizing your partner, you can actually get more down-to-earth information on their plans, feelings and ideas. Use the time at the end of the honeymoon phase to ask real questions, get to know each other more deeply and spend time doing what each of you enjoys.
  • Enjoy the comfort - as mentioned before, the honeymoon phase is a quite stressful period for your body and mind. At the end of this time, there’s more comfort and a sense of safety with the other. Enjoy being able to be more natural around your partner, laugh at your mutual failures or awkward moments and act more like a team.

Life after the honeymoon phase of dating is over

The honeymoon period of a relationship is an initial phase of romantic love, when the partners are very fond of each other, the sexual attraction is strong and the other seems perfect. This period establishes a physical bond, feelings of connection and safety, but is also very arousing and stressful. 

The honeymoon phase of a relationship lasts between 6 months to 2 years, generally, and may feel scary to step out of. Getting along with each other even after realizing neither of you is perfect is when the relationship matures. 

When the honeymoon phase ends, just remember it is not a bad thing, keep calm, talk to your partner, adjust your expectations and enjoy the comfort of a good connection.

Together Team

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