You know that feeling when you’re with your SO and you’re unashamed of PDA, texting them 24/7 and obsessing over them nonstop? Welcome to the honeymoon stage. It’s at the very beginning of a relationship, and although you and your SO may feel untouchable in your little bubble of bliss, it isn’t permanent. Eventually, you become accustomed to his habit of leaving socks everywhere, or her habit of cracking her knuckles, and the magic of being a newbie couple fades into a routine. Although it’s great to move forward and learn all the little mannerisms of your SO, sometimes it feels like a shock to the system when the honeymoon phase comes to a close. Here’s what to do next to keep your relationship as strong as it was in the very beginning.
Re-evaluate your relationship
Sometimes the honeymoon stage is actually just a lust stage. The two of you might have been so caught up in the moment that it seems like you’re perfect for each other when in reality it was just a passing fling. If it seems like there are more negatives than positives after the giddy feelings disappear, then you might be in this predicament.
“It’s always important to be clear on what you want and what you need out of a relationship,” says Jay Hurt, a relationship expert. “If this person isn’t meeting your needs and your desires and not putting you first, then you look for those signs and you decide how to move forward.” Your SO should be your biggest motivator and supporter. If they can’t seem to fulfill your needs — and we’re not talking Chipotle runs or back massages every day, we mean actual emotional fulfillment—then it might not be the right relationship for you. So after you are over the obsessive stage, step back and re-evaluate. If they’re right for you, you’ll know.
Keep some consistency
Although you might not be jumping each other’s bones every day (if you still do, props to you) that doesn’t mean that you have to cut out the romance altogether. Make sure that you’re still doing the same things that attracted you to each other in the first place. Hurt says that a certain amount of consistency is key. “Continue to do the things that attracted you to each other and that made you get together and fall in love before the honeymoon phase is over,” he says. “Keep working on your relationship.”
Sarah Westbrook, a junior at the University of South Carolina, says not to completely forget the honeymoon phase altogether. “I think it’s important to be able to stay romantic. It’s good to keep saying nice things to each other and remind each other how much you mean to each other. People can fall into the habit of not doing that after the ‘honeymoon phase’ since you get so comfortable together.” If there’s anything you should carry over into the next phase, it’s a little bit of the romance that started it all. You’ll be able to tackle a lot more of the serious stuff if you have that foundation to build on.
Expect to get (slightly) annoyed
One of the inevitable results of the transition into the next part of your relationship is the fact that the newness and blinded obsession you have for your other half might not be so blinding anymore. There will definitely be times where you feel like pulling your hair out — but that’s totally normal. Peyton Tuccinard, a freshman at James Madison University, says, “You don’t always want to see [your SO] every second — you want to see your friends too. Plus, you don’t want to lose your friends, and time apart means more time to love and miss each other.” Just because you’re dating someone doesn’t mean they’re the end-all-be-all. Just like any relationship — friend or otherwise — there will be times that you get frustrated. Cool down, hang out with some besties and then re-approach whatever subject set you off.
If, however, you are constantly being pestered with texts, your SO is snooping through all your emails or you can’t be around each other without sparking a fight, then the red flags should pop up. Arguing is totally fine, but feeling smothered is definitely not something you need to put up with. If you’re rolling your eyes so much that they get stuck, then it might be time to say hasta la vista.
Spice it up
Although it’s important to keep a little consistency, it’s equally important to keep it interesting so you don’t get into a draining routine. Predictability kills, so don’t fall prey to it. Hurt says to “never take each other for granted. You [should] always think of them first. You put their needs first and you put their wants first; that’s how you really you keep the freshness and the newness of the relationship and keep the relationship moving forward.” Obviously, you are still in control of yourself and your body, and putting their needs first doesn’t mean forgoing all of your needs as well. You aren’t required to succumb to their every will and answer at their beck and call, and you are always the one who has the final say over yourself. Instead, try to fulfill their emotional needs by being aware of when they’re having a rough day, or being understanding and willing to compromise in certain situations. Partaking in a relationship means you’re not on your own anymore.
Ingrid Schnader, a junior at Auburn University, also suggests changing your average date night to something more fun. “Find a hobby that you both enjoy — something that will never get old,” she says. “For example, my boyfriend and I always go to antique stores when we’re bored. We find the most interesting things and each trip is unique!” Trying new experiences with each other will ensure that you will never stop learning and growing alongside one another, and growing is a huge way to keep the momentum that your relationship needs.
Open up to your SO
This second phase of your relationship is where you find out all the good stuff. Instead of sucking each other’s faces every time you lock eyes, you will get the chance to have meaningful conversations and talk about your future plans and goals. You’ll learn all the specifics about your SO that will make your relationship strong. From cutesy things like childhood memories to serious subjects like biggest struggles, these are the conversations that will build up your relationship and allow you to get more comfortable. Revealing your true self is something that only comes with time — and this is when you should do it!
Peyton says that this phase gives her and her SO the chance to be honest in ways they wouldn’t have been before. “When my boyfriend and I got past the honeymoon stage everything became much more comfortable,” she says. “We were even able to talk about certain aspects of each other that bothered us. For example, I’m not afraid to tell him to keep me out of conversations about politics. We don’t exactly see eye-to-eye on the subject, but it’s totally fine for me to say that it makes me uncomfortable, and he gets it.” One of the great parts of getting to open up to your SO is being candid about your feelings — no matter what. You might not feel right bringing more serious feelings up in the honeymoon stage, but the fact that you are comfortable to put everything on the table means your relationship is strong and growing.
Remember those honeymoon feelings
Post-honeymoon might also seem like the phase of reality, stress and arguments about not answering each others’ phone calls — sometimes it seems like you completely loathe your SO. But you remember your honeymoon days, so use that to your advantage. “I think many couples transition into good relationships when those [honeymoon] feelings continue, and it might not be quite the same but, the feelings do continue, and you’re still in a joyful relationship,” says Hurt.
Shelly Adams, a junior at Shenandoah University, says that those feelings actually helped to bring sparks back into her relationship. “The passion will come and go; you can fall in love with your significant other all over again if it dies down—you just have to put some effort into it!” So don’t think that the honeymoon stage is the peak of romance. If that’s what you want in a relationship, all you need to do is understand what made you feel that way in the first place and find ways to bring it back. Carry the feelings that brought you together into this second phase because they come in handy when the real-world invades.
Some of the best experiences in your relationship will come after the honeymoon is over. You’re finally comfortable in the relationship and you don’t have to worry about wearing makeup and uncomfortable jeans all the time — welcome back, sweatpants.
Dottie Kramer, a senior at Ohio University, says she actually likes the post-honeymoon phase better. “The honeymoon is kind of fake; you put your best foot forward (always made up, best behavior, etc.); it’s a lot of effort,” she says. “I cherish the silly weird moments we have more than anything. The nights where we cuddle up watching junk TV in sweatpants, splitting a whole pizza. Plus, I feel like we’ve gotten a lot closer, and he’s become my go-to guy on a lot of tough conversations (like money, and life post-grad). The relationship only gets better with time!” Post-honeymoon is the time to really get to know your SO. You’ll become closer because you’re more trusting and ready to tackle the good and the bad.
When the honeymoon is over and you’re in part two of the relationship, the fears that accompany it can be scary, but remember why you and your SO fell for each other in the first place. So, tackle the next phase of your relationship — you might be surprised by how much better it is.