The Honeymoon Phase: Why Does It End and What Happens Next?

By Sarah Wilson, PhD

The heady stages of a new relationship are among life’s more exciting moments.

You feel like you’re living in a real-life fairy tale. You idealize your partner and think he or she can do no wrong.

This is called the “honeymoon phase.” It’s fun and romantic.

It usually occurs in the early stages of a relationship and can last anywhere from 6 months to two years. But sooner or later, it comes to an end.

Here’s why it ends—and how it can be replaced with something even better.

Why the Honeymoon Phase Eventually Ends

1. You’re Discovering Something New

Part of the appeal of the honeymoon phase is that it’s one long period of discovery.

Of course, you want to know everything there is to know about your new love. You want to become intimately acquainted with their body, their history, and their personality. You feel like you just can’t get enough of them and may not feel like keeping your hands to yourself.

But inevitably, you will reach the point where you feel like your partner is no longer a mystery.

2. It’s Science!

If it feels like you’re under the influence of substances when you’re in the stages of new love, there’s a reason: your hormones experienced a big spike. Specifically, you’ve been flooded with elevated levels of nerve growth factor, which increases your feelings of bonding and connection.

This is like the equivalent of wearing rose-colored glasses. But sooner or later, you have to take them off.

That’s when you start to see things more as they actually are. You suddenly start to notice your partner’s annoying quirks. You may still think they’re pretty great, but your view is a lot more realistic.

3. Moving to a Mature Stage

While the rush of new love is heady and thrilling, it’s also hard to keep up that pace forever. The reality of bills, health problems, and commitments to family and friends can all intrude on your pink-colored bliss.

The good news is that the end of the honeymoon phase can give way to a deeper, more mature love. You may come to view your partner as someone you can depend on and trust. It may not be as sexy or exciting, but it can ultimately be much more rewarding and fulfilling.

What If You Didn’t Have the Honeymoon Stage?

Fairy tales are a big deal in our society. We love fantasy makeovers, dream vacations, and rags-to-riches success stories.

So, if the honeymoon stage in your relationship was short or even non-existent, you might question whether you made a mistake by not holding out for the magic.

Although you should talk to a therapist to sort out any serious doubts, it’s also very possible to have a good and solid relationship that’s based more on mutual respect and friendship than on sparks and fairy dust. You can still develop a deep love with a strong foundation even if it didn’t begin with a whirlwind romance.

Where to Go Next

When the honeymoon phase of your relationship is officially over, you don’t have to resign yourself to years of boredom and evenings spent hanging out in your sweatpants. You can still keep flickers of excitement and happiness alive in your relationship with a bit of mutual effort.

Be sure to schedule regular date nights for just the two of you to get a chance to really connect with and focus on each other.

Keep doing the nice and thoughtful things for each other that you did when your love was new. Your partner won’t get bored of your appreciation.

Love doesn’t have to end just because the honeymoon phase does—instead, it just develops an additional, deeper dimension.

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Dr. Sarah Wilson, LMFT Associate, is a couples, family, and individual therapist with the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin (RCC Austin). Her work with clients focuses on building healthy relationships for couples, families, and individuals. Sarah can be reached at 512-270-4883, ext. 104.