Last updated:March 16, 2023
If you ever wondered when the honeymoon phase ends in a relationship, the answer might surprise you. Researchers at New York University found that the honeymoon phase can last up to 30 months! That’s almost 2.5 years into a relationship, which is a long time to be walking around with butterflies in your stomach.
The common thing we hear from people is that once the honeymoon phase is over, the relationship goes downhill from there. Other people say that once the honeymoon phase is over, the real relationship begins. So, which is the truth?
Let’s dissect the honeymoon stage in a relationship and see how we can make it last longer so that the passion never dwindles.
Honeymoon Phase: What It Is, When the Honeymoon Phase Ends & How To Extend It
What Is a Honeymoon Phase?
The honeymoon phase or the merge, according to the marriage therapist and author of Love Cycles: The Five Essential Stages of Lasting Love Linda Carroll, is a period in the early stage of a couple’s relationship. This stage is often marked with everything in your new relationship and everything about your new partner being perfect. You both are happy and life has never been this good.
During this stage of your relationship, you almost feel like you’re high on love. You might be more willing to compromise on things in your relationship, go the extra mile to please your partner, and have this never dying desire to show physical affection (even if you’re not usually a physical person) and have sex with them.
How Long Does It Usually Last?
It’s hard to say when the honeymoon phase ends in a relationship. The duration of this stage in a relationship depends greatly on the individual relationship. Some couples might find themselves in the honeymoon stage for six months, while others will be in that stage for up to 2.5 years.
Why Does the Honeymoon Phase Happen?
The honeymoon phase is affected by two things – brain chemistry and societal norms. First, let’s talk about what happens in the brain.
Romantic love has an extremely strong effect on the brain. There have been multiple studies done that compare the effect of love on the brain to the way cocaine affects it. Love is, indeed, a drug.
When we’re in love, our brain is flooded with dopamine, known as the pleasure hormone. Dopamine is also the hormone that drives us to seek reward and encourages us to come back to activities and things that bring us that pleasure. Hence, that is why we’re attracted to our partners in the honeymoon stage and want more and more of them.
Now, the honeymoon phase is also affected by social norms. The early stages of the relationship is when things are new, mysterious, and exciting. We are conditioned to celebrate the early stage of a relationship.
Interestingly, not every couple experiences the honeymoon stage in their relationship. Sometimes, the spark or the “chemistry” is just not there right off the bat, and it takes time for the relationship to evolve. These couples are no better or worse than those who do experience the honeymoon stage, it’s just that they’re different.
What Happens When It’s Over?
Once the honeymoon phase is over, it might sometimes feel as if a bubble just burst and you can suddenly see the relationship and your partner in a true light. This is where things can go either way. “After you exit the merge, you might not be compatible as a couple,” explains sexologist and Head of Relationship Research at a couple’s wellness platform Arya, Nicholas Velotta.
The honeymoon phase ending is a natural part of any relationship. In fact, it’s our brain’s attempt to self-regulate itself. The brain simply can’t keep up with the excitement from the dopamine transmitters, so eventually, it’s exchanged to other types of neurotransmitters that foster feelings of warmth and companionship rather than passion and excitement, explains Velotta.
Naturally, after the honeymoon phase is over, the real work in the relationship begins. It’s also when the passion starts to die down and partners might find themselves not having sex as often anymore. “A fourth of couples in happy long-term relationships admit that their sex life was less ideal than it could be,” Velotta says.
The number of couples who want to improve their sex lives in a long-term relationship proves that feeding eroticism in your relationship long-term is very important. But keeping eroticism is much harder after the merge is over.
How To Make the Honeymoon Phase Last Forever
Of course, it might not be possible to keep the excitement levels of the honeymoon phase forever. However, there are things you and your partner can intentionally do to keep the passion alive in the relationship and the bedroom.
Give Each Other Space
It might seem contradictory, but maintaining a healthy distance between you and your partner can make you feel more in love and passionate about each other. “Eroticism requires a certain level of mystery and tension and novelty amongst the partners,” Velotta explains.
Relationship and sexuality expert Esther Perel also believes in giving your partner space. In her book, Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence, Perel writes, “When people become fused—when two become one—connection can no longer happen. There is no one to connect with. Thus separateness is a precondition for connection: this is the essential paradox of intimacy and sex.”
So, what you and your partner can do to maintain the excitement and eroticism is find ways to build separateness in a relationship in whatever way possible. You never truly know everything about your partner and you should embrace that and don’t think of it as a threat to you or the relationship.
Of course, there shouldn’t be secrets or lies between you two, but a level of separateness is crucial. It will feel exciting, and it’s cool to always learn and find out new things about your partner, even after years of being together.
Continue To Date Your Partner
Do you know when the honeymoon phase ends? When you stop putting in the effort to date your partner. So, continue to date your partner. Never stop.
Always plan dates together, no matter how trivial they might be. Intentionality is a great spark for eroticism, even after you’ve been together with your partner for a long time.
Also, don’t treat your partner as if they’re yours to keep forever without you having to put in an effort. You don’t keep your partner and they’re not yours unconditionally. “Of course, your partner will love you and act in your best interest, but knowing them totally is not a thing and saps a lot of erotic energy out of the relationship,” Velotta explains.
So, think of it this way – every single day you and your partner both choose to be together. It’s not a given, and that’s beautiful. There is beauty in intentionally choosing to be in a relationship with your partner, so celebrate that fact. And act according to it by seducing your partner daily.
What Are You Wearing to Bed?
Are you wearing ugly PJs and torn old underwear when going to bed every night? “Over 70% of sexually unsatisfied couples don’t sleep naked together,” says Velotta.
If you want to keep the passion and eroticism in your relationship long-term, make sure the bedroom stays an erotic space. Going to bed nude or in sexy yet comfortable PJs will inspire more eroticism and admiration of your and your partner’s body.
PDA (aka public display of affection) is super important to keep up in a long-term relationship. “The social aspects of eroticism are super important in any relationship,” Velotta says. It’s very exciting to have your partner put a hand on the small of your back and signal to the world that they are sexually attracted to you. It can be a very powerful charge of erotic energy.
Also, then there’s kissing. Kissing is one of the most dominant forms of erotic affection and it’s far more erotic than many people think. So, keep up your kissing game. “Only 44% of women and 33% of men are spontaneously kissed,” explains Velotta. These numbers of receiving affection from a partner are very low.
And if you’re not kissing then ask yourself – why? Is it because you don’t know how to kiss or don’t like the way your partner does it? If that’s the case then work on improving your kissing technique.
Discuss Sexual Fantasies
To keep the flame alive in the bedroom, learn to discuss sexual fantasies with your partner. It’s important for getting what you need and want in the bedroom, so if you desire something, ask for it.
Share your own sexual fantasies, ask your partner about their fantasies, and maybe even fulfill one of your partner’s sexual fantasies with them (only if you’re OK with it, though!). “It signals that your partner’s pleasure is important to you,” Velotta says.
Also, indulge in some fantasy roleplay with your partner. “Extremely sexually satisfied couples incorporate role play into their sex life,” Velotta adds. Taking on the role of being someone else for the night of sexual play is a great way to foster separateness that feeds into overall sexual arousal.
Diversity in the Bedroom
Both men and women in long-term relationships tend to want more diversity. in the bedroom. So, make trying new things, new techniques, and skills in the bedroom a priority.
You don’t have to go head over heels with how you bring diversity into the bedroom. Start with small things like switching up the roles of who initiates sex. “In relationships, men tend to feel like initiating sex lies on their shoulders,” Velotta says. So, when men see that their partners are initiating sex and are equally as excited and engaged in the experience, they find it a turn-on.
So, if your male partner is always the initiator, you might want to turn things around and take on the role of initiating sexy time from now on.
Also, women report desiring more foreplay before sex. Add new techniques into the mix to extend foreplay. Or better yet, go the extra mile and consider foreplay to be a never-ending thing in your relationship.
“Foreplay starts as soon as sex ends. You’re never out of foreplay. You’re building towards sex with each moment with your partner,” Velotta explains. So, really, showing your partner affection, going on dates with them, and showering them with affection throughout the day when they least expect it all goes into trying to seduce your partner.
Try New Things Together
Trying new things together with your partner is the key to a happy long-term relationship. It puts you in a fun environment where another person is taking a risk and an opportunity to feed eroticism, even if the new thing you’re trying is not inherently sexual. Saying to your partner “I want to try new experiences with you” is sexy.
When you do something exciting and new, you tend to associate that person with the feeling of newness and arousal you felt in the moment when you were doing the activity. For example, if you go skydiving with your partner, you’ll associate the feeling you had while skydiving (which is often highly positive due to all the dopamine and adrenaline) with them. And who doesn’t want to feel like their partner is the coolest person on earth?