How do you know when the honeymoon phase is already over? How long does it last?
We asked experts to share their insights.
Table of Contents
- The honeymoon phase can last as long as you and your partner strive to maintain it
- The honeymoon phase can last forever
- The honeymoon phase can last and last
- The honeymoon phase can be measured and analyzed through studies using MRI brain scans
- Frequently Asked Questions
Rachel Levenson, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist, Clarity Psychology
The honeymoon phase can last as long as you and your partner strive to maintain it
But the better news is that you can bring the honeymoon phase back – regularly and often – with just a little bit of work.
Modulations of neurotransmitters
Specifically dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and oxytocin – are responsible for the feelings we associate with the “honeymoon phase,” yearning, desire, obsessive thinking, and increased energy for one’s partner.
When falling in love, dopamine activates the reward and pleasure circuits in the brain, resulting in feelings of elation and high energy. When looking at our romantic partners, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies indicate that dopamine circuits light up in our brains.
During the early phase of attraction, there is reduced activity in serotonin, which causes feelings of infatuation: those preoccupying thoughts and hopes about new love.
There is also an increase in norepinephrine during the early phase of love and attraction. When norepinephrine is present in the brain, adrenaline is released in the body, which causes “butterflies in the stomach.”
Unfortunately, adrenaline is also responsible for the loss of appetite, rapid heartbeat and sweating, and lack of sleep associated with the early stages of attraction and love.
Lastly, oxytocin, known as the “love hormone,” is released during physical touch such as hugging, kissing, cuddling, and other sexual behaviors. When oxytocin is active in the brain, we feel calm, secure, and happy. These feelings increase our feelings of attachment to our partners.
Enjoy and do things with your partner
But it’s not “all in the brain,” in the sense that we can do things with our partners to regularly and frequently play with our hormones and renew these feelings.
A woman recently told me she saw her partner smile across the room, and – to her surprise – she felt butterflies in her stomach. A couple came to me because their fighting was frequent and intense.
Over time they learned that if they pause to hold hands, their feelings of frustration attenuate, feelings of warmth and security resurface, and they are able to communicate more effectively. With the resolution of each argument, they feel more and more attached and attracted to one another.
As love becomes safe and long term, the initial stress and angst subside. That’s because our stress hormones return to normal. Along with the benefits of reduced stress, we may lose the constant craving for our partner, and we begin to feel that the “honeymoon phase” is over. This typically happens about one to two years into the relationship.
Couples often come to therapy feeling like they may never experience the intense desire they had at the beginning of their relationship. But with simple behavioral changes, we can bring the honeymoon phase back again and again.
Communicate with your partner
Make an effort to notice something about your partner that you were initially attracted to, and your dopamine and adrenaline will light up. Leave your partner a note on the bathroom mirror, and with a little fluctuation of serotonin, he or she will be preoccupied with thoughts of you throughout the day. Give your partner a short back rub, or ask for one yourself, and oxytocin will renew feelings of security and attachment.
Often, after learning some tools to communicate more constructively and to notice one another more habitually, couples tell me they feel even stronger desire for their partner several years into the relationship compared to how they felt at the beginning. In short, lust will fade, but love and attraction – maybe even a honeymoon – can be regularly renewed.
Speaker | Sculptor | Author, Loving Promises, The Master Class for Creating Magnificent Relationship
Rather than ask “How long does the honeymoon phase last?,” a better question is “How long can a honeymoon phase last?”
The honeymoon phase can last forever
When you place a time limit on a “phase”, you create an expectation that it has a limited period and will eventually end. As a couple learns more about each other, their love and their enjoyment of each others company can keep growing and growing.
My wife and I have been married for almost 37 years and we are even more in love than when we first met and got married.
The honeymoon phase can last and last
It doesn’t have to have an expiration date. Based on The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, when you know what your mate’s love languages are and he/she knows yours, by filling up those love tanks daily or weekly, hot, juicy love doesn’t have to end.
It takes work mind you, but it’s worth it.
Personally, my husband and I appreciate time together and doing things we love together, which lately is playing music in two bands.
Granted his love language has to do with attention to a specific region and as I fill his love tank, my affection tank gets filled! And I do have to remind him to do a few things, gently yet lovingly, as my other tanks involve acts of service and spending time together.
Keeping the honeymoon going is not always easy, and one needs patience, perseverance, and fortitude.
When you’re happy solo and independently, it’s easier to keep the honeymoon going; when you find & do what you love, you can find the happiness that’s independent and sometimes separate yet also a part of your marriage.
Not everyone can play music with their spouse, yet finding things you enjoy doing together also helps immensely. We support each other in our other bands and projects and talk about what’s next.
We’ve made plans to travel to functions we both want to attend, and since the next three were solo, we made plans to also travel together as often as we can.
While the hot and heavy honeymoon phase may not stay so dripping & juicy, allowing a strong, fun, happy love to evolve and still have honeymoon moments can be just as fulfilling.
Certified Mental Health Consultant, Enlightened Reality | Family Care Specialist, Maple Holistics
The honeymoon phase can be measured and analyzed through studies using MRI brain scans
Brain chemistry and nerve growth are huge factors in the feelings felt during the honeymoon stage. Physical interaction with a new partner and spending a lot of time in an intimate setting helps to increase these neurological factors.
These neurological effects are greatly diminished after 12 months to 24 months into a relationship. Romantic love can be a stimulating but also stressful experience.
The neurological effect of having a new partner may diminish over time due to overexposure and assimilation to the partner. The neurological effects may diminish, but that does not mean your relationship has to suffer.
Setting up healthy habits during the honeymoon stage that are sustainable and accommodating to both partners is a way of keeping the relationship going after the honeymoon phase ends.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of a honeymoon?
The purpose of a honeymoon is for the newlyweds to spend quality time together after their wedding and celebrate the beginning of their married life. It is an opportunity for the couple to relax, unwind and create special memories together.
The honeymoon is often seen as a time of romance and intimacy and an opportunity for the couple to explore new places and experiences together.
In addition, the honeymoon represents a transitional period for the couple as they move from the wedding festivities to their new life together as a married couple.
It allows them to step away from the stress of wedding planning and the demands of everyday life and focus on each other and their relationship. The honeymoon also marks the beginning of the couple’s journey as partners and can set the tone for their future together.
What are the signs that the honeymoon phase is coming to an end?
Less communication and decreased intensity of conversation: When the honeymoon phase is in full swing, couples communicate frequently and with great enthusiasm.
Communication may become less frequent as the relationship becomes more solid, and conversations may be less intense or passionate.
Fewer grand gestures and romantic surprises: In the honeymoon phase, couples often go out of their way to do romantic and thoughtful things for each other. As the relationship progresses, these grand gestures become less frequent.
Increased bickering or disagreements over small things: While couples may overlook minor mistakes or disagreements during the honeymoon phase, these issues can become more noticeable and frustrating as the relationship progresses.
A decrease in the frequency and quality of sex: While sex may be frequent and exciting during the honeymoon phase, it may become less frequent or more routine as the relationship becomes more solid.
It’s important to note that these signs do not necessarily mean that the relationship is in trouble or that love is fading. Rather, they can be a natural part of a relationship’s progression as it moves from the initial infatuation phase to a more stable and consistent phase.
Can the end of the honeymoon phase be a good thing?
Yes, the end of the honeymoon phase can be a good thing. While the honeymoon phase is characterized by intense passion, excitement, and infatuation, it’s not a permanent state for most relationships in the long run.
At some point, the initial rush of emotion will subside, and the couple will enter a deeper, more stable phase of the relationship.
The end of the honeymoon allows the couple to build a deeper emotional connection based on trust, respect, and understanding.
Once they move past the initial infatuation, they can learn to appreciate each other’s weaknesses and differences and work together to build a strong and lasting relationship.
The end of the honeymoon phase can also bring a sense of relief, as the pressure of maintaining the intensity of the initial phase of the relationship can be exhausting. The couple can relax and settle into a more comfortable and stable routine where they can focus on building a life together.
The end of the honeymoon can mean a change in the relationship, but it can be a positive and necessary step toward building a strong and fulfilling partnership.
Can the honeymoon phase be unhealthy?
Yes, the honeymoon phase can be unhealthy if it becomes an obsession or if one partner idealizes the other to the point of not seeing their weaknesses or being unable to speak honestly about their needs and expectations.
Here are some ways the honeymoon phase can be unhealthy:
Obsession: If one or both partners are obsessed with the other during the honeymoon phase, it can lead to feelings of jealousy, possessiveness, and insecurity. This can be unhealthy and damaging to the relationship in the long run.
Idealization: When one partner idealizes the other to the point of not seeing their weaknesses or being honest about their needs and expectations, this can lead to an unrealistic and unsustainable dynamic. This can lead to disappointment and conflict as the relationship progresses.
Moving too fast: During the honeymoon phase, it’s easy to get carried away with the excitement and rush of emotions. However, if the couple rushes ahead too quickly and makes big commitments before they have really gotten to know each other, this can lead to problems down the road.
Ignore red flags: In the honeymoon phase, it’s easy to overlook warning signs or red flags in the relationship. However, ignoring these signs can be unhealthy and lead to problems later on.
Both partners should be honest and open about their needs and expectations and work together to build a healthy and lasting relationship.
What causes the honeymoon phase to end?
Biological factors: In the early stages of a relationship, the brain releases chemicals such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin that contribute to intense feelings of attraction and infatuation.
However, as the brain becomes accustomed to these substances, the intensity of these feelings may decrease.
Routine and familiarity: As the couple gets used to a routine and becomes more familiar with each other, the excitement and novelty of the relationship may gradually fade.
Recognizing weaknesses and differences: In the honeymoon phase, idealizing your partner and overlooking their weaknesses and differences is easy.
However, as the relationship progresses, these weaknesses and differences become more apparent and can lead to conflict and disappointment.
Stress and external pressures: Stressful events such as work, financial difficulties, or family problems can strain a relationship and contribute to the end of the honeymoon phase.
How can I make sure my relationship lives on after the honeymoon ends?
– Communicate openly and honestly
– Continue to prioritize the relationship
– Maintain a sense of adventure
– Practice forgiveness
– Work on personal development
– Recognize the value of a strong emotional connection
– Practice empathy and understanding
– Support each other’s goals and dreams
– Manage conflict effectively
– Have fun with each other and stay playful
– Work on intimacy
– Build a strong support system
By taking these tips to heart, you can increase your chances of having a happy and fulfilling long-term relationship. Remember that every relationship is unique, and finding what works for you and your partner is important.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?