"Honeymoon phase" wearing off - Destiny or decision?
March 21, 2014 10:39 AM   Subscribe

People keep telling me that my husband and I are still in the "honeymoon phase" and that it will wear off. I disagree, and I think that "honeymoon phase" is a bunch of crap, but maybe I am being naive? Can a couple maintain a level of romance and affection and "in love"-edness throughout their relationship, or must it inevitably fade? I'd love to hear people's experiences, and examples of where they have been able to maintain the "honeymoon" feeling, and where the honeymoon phase ended and why they think that was.

I'm 32, he is 39, this is my first marriage, his second, we have a 7 year old (from his first marriage), we have careers, we have stressors and worries and responsibilities. We have experienced some very serious things in the time we have been together (death, major scare that I had cancer resulting in months of medical tests and sleepless nights, parental illness, financial stress). I feel comfortable describing ourselves as very grounded, rational people. However, we have always been disgusting and cutesy. I actually think we are the exact same as we have been since the day we started dating in terms of being affectionate and lovey dovey, the wedding didn't change anything in that regard. We hold hands when we're out in public, we hug a lot, we kiss a lot, we say I love you a lot, we apparently do cutesy lovey looks at one another all the time (according to our friends who find it both adorable and sickening), we enjoy spending the vast VAST majority of our time together, we snuggle every night and set the morning alarm to go off 20 minutes earlier than we need it so that we can snuggle before work, we make out on the couch and engage in lots of coitus... Basically, we are disgusting and we have always done the things that are largely how people describe the honeymoon phase. We each have separate interests and do things independent of the other, but time spent together is where we are both happiest. Of course, we have arguments, we get frustrated with each other, but we never fight mean, and we never fight for long (longest fight was four hours, from initial fight trigger to apologies and hugs) and we never hold grudges. And of course there is an ebb and flow, but even at our "low" points we are still much more affectionate and romantic and "in love" than most couples probably are (or so we have been told).

I don't think "honeymoon phase" exists but rather couples stop putting the effort in to keeping the romance and affection in their relationship. My husband and I have talked about it many times (we have regular relationship conversations where we ensure both our needs are met and whether the relationship is on a path we both agree upon) and we both know how easy it is to just get "too busy" to invest the time and energy in to romance. We have decided, as a couple, to make it a priority. We are parents to a kick ass kid, we have careers and responsibilities,... but we are also two adults in a relationship and that matters too.

So is the "honeymoon phase" actually a thing? Am I being naive to think that we really CAN maintain this level of romance and lovingness throughout the relationship? I know that no two relationships are the same, but this "honeymoon phase" thing has been barfed at me so much that I'm getting the sense everyone really believes it is a temporary state. Would be really be THAT much of an exception to the rule if we were able to keep this up?
posted by PuppetMcSockerson to Human Relations (39 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Can you let us know how long you've been a couple first?

That said - there is indeed a period early on in a relationship when everything is stardust and giddy and unicorns-shitting-rainbows-in-your-laps and everything they do is shiny and new and wonderful (someone I read once described it as the "you like blueberry pancakes? OMG so do I!" phase). That's the honeymoon phase, and it does end as you become more familiar with each other.

However, that does not necessarily mean that the schmoop disappears entirely. I actually believe you're right that a mutual commitment to connecting as a couple can keep that going past that stage - and it even deepens, because you not only know that the guy likes blueberry pancakes just like you, but you also know that he also does things like encourage you to go for your Masters' when you've been too afraid to your whole life or that he knows when you've had a shitty day at work without your having to say anything or that he understands that if you snap at him because of something he said about the laundry that it's really because of something about the way your mom raised you or something and he remembers not to take it personally. And that, I think, makes that kind of romance even deeper and richer.

You're doing fine.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:46 AM on March 21, 2014 [12 favorites]

Best answer: So is the "honeymoon phase" actually a thing?

Well, it's a "thing" in that, obviously, many people experience a heady first-flush of mutual desire and romantic attachment and then feel that slowly fade over time. For some people what replaces it is indifference or worse, for others a calmer and deeper attachment that they value in a different way. But it's not a "thing" in the sense of "an immutable truth of human nature to which you will inevitably conform." I know couples who remained head-over-heels-romantically-in-love with each other for lifetimes. So no, it's not naive to think that you "CAN maintain this level of romance and lovingness throughout the relationship." But it's probably best not to think too self-consciously about it. Enjoy the way you are together. If it doesn't significantly change, great. If it changes, don't automatically reject those changes as a "decline" from some ideal plateau--allow yourself to consider the possibility that the relationship is evolving and that its new forms might have rewards that are also worth savoring.
posted by yoink at 10:49 AM on March 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

Best answer: The "honeymoon phase" sometimes is used to mean "that period of time during which you successfully ignore all the things that irritate you about your partner," and sometimes is used to mean "that period of time during which spending time with your partner is a Legitimate Exciting Thing rather than just, you know, your everyday life." You don't say how long you've been together, but I've been with my husband for 18 years now, and while I am definitely still powerfully, magnetically In Love with him and attracted to him, it's also true that the tenor of our relationship is really different than it was five, ten, fifteen years ago. It's less exciting, because it's more comfortable; less thrilling, because it's more familiar.

Am I being naive to think that we really CAN maintain this level of romance and lovingness throughout the relationship?

Yes. Because your relationship is not static, it's dynamic. Nothing about it will stay the same. This doesn't mean it will get worse, or boring, or distant, or unfulfilling. . . but if you have a bar for "success" that means that you will continue to experience some facet of your relationship in exactly the same way forever, you're setting yourselves up for failure and resentment. This doesn't mean that you can't maintain a highly romantic, affectionate, loving relationship forever -- but the way that's expressed on a day-by-day basis is probably going to change with time.

The good news is? It only gets better. I would not trade my relationship now for my relationship of fifteen years ago if you paid me one billion dollars.
posted by KathrynT at 10:50 AM on March 21, 2014 [31 favorites]

Best answer: Honeymoonship seems like it is a thing, newness and all. But that doesn't mean a relationship has to stop being loving or having some intensity or whatever.
I am in a relationship (20 years just last month) than many have commented on they wish they had something similar, but even so, like nearly all long associations, marriages tend to fluctuate. 19 and a half years ago I recall some relative in-law commenting when my wife and I where holding hands, "oh isn't that cute, you can tell they where just married". yeah... well we still hold hands today. But, some intensity does fade over time, and in good commutative stable relationships part of that is replaces with equally loving stability and trust and... well.. you get it. It's all good.
posted by edgeways at 10:50 AM on March 21, 2014

My spouse and I have been together for six years in May, and yeah, honeymoon phase is a thing. That has nothing to do with love, romance, lust or your relationship.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:51 AM on March 21, 2014

Best answer: I know a lot of couples like you describe. My parents for one have been married fifty years and act like newlyweds. In my own marriage we acted like you decribe through six years with several severe crisis'. I don't think it is unusual at all. Most of my close friends have been married for 20+ years in romantic, loving relationships where they act like newlyweds still. I'm sorry the people around you have not.
posted by saucysault at 10:52 AM on March 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

It is probably, like most things, a factor in some relationships, but not so much in others. No one knows the truth of a relationship besides the two people inside of it.

I'm not quite sure what your question is, but if it's really bothering you that people are dismissing your happiness as just a "honeymoon phase" -- all you can do is ignore them. It says more about them than it does about you.

You seem just a bit defensive, and your question almost reads as if you are trying to prove how good you are at being a couple. That's great you all are happy, but be careful about being too judgy about how other people aren't so good at working on their relationship. I've seen plenty of great relationships with A LOT of effort invested in them not work out. Successful relationships are a special alchemy of a good match, hard work, and some luck (IMO).

So, blessings upon you, but tend your own garden and maybe worry less about other people.
posted by pantarei70 at 10:52 AM on March 21, 2014 [14 favorites]

Response by poster: Can you let us know how long you've been a couple first?

We have known each other for 7 years, been romantically involved for 3.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:53 AM on March 21, 2014

Best answer: Of course the "honeymoon phase" exists - it doesn't disappear as much as it evolves into something much deeper and more profound (or not.) In my relationship - happily married for over a decade - returning to the honeymoon phase would be taking a big step backwards.
posted by three blind mice at 10:55 AM on March 21, 2014 [17 favorites]

Limerance certainly exists in the early stages of a relationship, but these days people don't usually get married while they're still in it, and people these days tend to already live together before they get married, so I think people who are saying this stuff are either bitter or the kind of people who desperately need to put all other people in specially labeled boxes. Or are desperately hoping they too will get a honeymoon phase some day.

I find that a vague, mystified reply works best. "O...kay." "I guess?" Or you can go more for a, "If you say so" or "If that's what you need it to be." It's really about them, not you, anyway.

I wonder if you are an outlier in your social circles? Are they either mostly unmarried or mostly long-married (formerly married, etc)?
posted by Lyn Never at 10:55 AM on March 21, 2014

Best answer: We have known each other for 7 years, been romantically involved for 3.

Oh, man, you are well out of whatever "honeymoon phase" is that people are talking about. You're fine. You are well into the "successful relationship" side of things, and all the people telling you that you're just in the "honeymoon phase" are just jellus haterz. And you can tell them I said that. :-)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:55 AM on March 21, 2014 [19 favorites]

Everyone's different, and every relationship is its own story. Stories tend to have arcs of some variety or other but that doesn't mean they go along the same path in each case. Just tell the story you're telling.
posted by mdn at 10:56 AM on March 21, 2014

Best answer: So is the "honeymoon phase" actually a thing?

Sure, and so are mid-life crises, and seven-year-itches, and Montezuma's revenge, and prisoner's dilemmas and all sorts of things that are things but not laws. It wouldn't have a name if it wasn't a phenomenon that occurred.

I think a lot of people build their castles on sand when getting married, and when stressors like the ones you've already experienced come along, it starts to erode the weak (or just insufficiently strong) bonds between the parties. The mortgage, the car payment, the crying child--they become the reality that replaces the limerance phase, and people start to fall out of "love" (or whatever force drew them together originally).

If you already have made it through some of those significant stressors unscathed, you're looking off to a good start. The other thing to watch for is complacency, and taking your SO for granted, which I think is as poisonous as any sin in marriage.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:57 AM on March 21, 2014 [11 favorites]

Best answer: Well, eventually there's a transition in your brain chemistry from romantic love (high dopamine / low serotonin) to long-term attachment (oxytocin). Some people might call this the end of the honeymoon phase of a relationship.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:00 AM on March 21, 2014 [6 favorites]

Best answer: As others have said, there are different kinds of love and attraction in relationships. That giddy love at the beginning is nigh-impossible to maintain, but it's not the only kind of love. Reciprocated affection and adoration is not so common, and is often mistaken for "the honeymoon phase," so showing some of that in public can lead to people commenting on you being in a temporary place.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:05 AM on March 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I wonder if you are an outlier in your social circles? Are they either mostly unmarried or mostly long-married (formerly married, etc)?

We actually aren't outliers. Our social group is extremely mixed. We good friends with newly weds, long-time happily married couple, a couple in a decidedly rocky relationship, single but dating people, and 50 year old never married. We're one big group of outliers, very diverse but all very awesome. The only way in which we are properly an "outlier" is that we are the only of our primary friend group that has a kid (so far).
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:08 AM on March 21, 2014

Best answer: Well, eventually there's a transition in your brain chemistry from romantic love (high dopamine / low serotonin) to long-term attachment (oxytocin). Some people might call this the end of the honeymoon phase of a relationship.

I think this is what people are generally referring to, and that initial rush does cause some people to behave in sentimental fashions that they wouldn't otherwise do on their own. But there is a difference between feelings/emotions/hormones and temperament. If this is part of your general temperament (and your AskMe history indicates that it is), then the cutesy-sweet behaviors are just part of your overall personalities.

That person who communicates in grunts and clipped replies isn't necessarily going through a "grumpy phase", it's just his communication style. It seems more like these behaviors aren't so much due to the rush of "new Relationship Energy" as much as it's just your (to use an oft-repeated phrase) "Love Language."
posted by deanc at 11:09 AM on March 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It may just be cultural knee-jerk stuff, then. People seem to cling to those old tropes like bad comedians and airplane food. "Getting married? You must be so stressed! How's those cold feet?" "Just got married? Probably haven't finished True Detective because of all that sex, huh?" "Is she bitching about you not taking out the trash yet?" Y'all, we got married for real, not in a sitcom! The trash is fine! "That's just the honeymoon period!" Maybe it's a language shortcut, like they're trying to acknowledge the nice fact that you're newlyweds without being too-too weird and creepy about it.

Lord knows, I always end up saying weird trite shit to pregnant people and people who have just suffered a loss. I don't mean to, it just comes out of my awkward mouth.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:18 AM on March 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I feel as though my SO and I didn't really have a honeymoon phase. No giddiness and "can't live without you" sort of feelings. I just knew he was a really nice guy who kept doing things that made me want him in my life. After eight years, we are still making googly eyes at each other. If anything, it seems as though those affectionate behaviors have increased since we first started going out. I love him even more now because I know him so well and have full realization of what an amazing, tolerant, patient, loving person he is. I'm looking forward to lots of snuggles and loves from him for many years to come.

In short, it sounds like you are on solid ground! Enjoy.
posted by futureisunwritten at 11:20 AM on March 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

rather couples stop putting the effort in to keeping the romance and affection in their relationship.

Or life events conspire to create conditions that reveal previously-unknown fatal flaws in one or both of the partners. Or a partner does something impulsive and unforgivable, and that easy trust and affection is no longer an option. Or an undetected serious mental health issue comes to the fore, and everything you thought you knew about your relationship and your partner goes all fun-house mirror distorted.

Three years in is still early days. I'm not a hater, just making observations on why people might suggest that things will change over time in such a way that the honey-dripping first months/years become a sweet memory rather than a daily reality.
posted by nacho fries at 11:25 AM on March 21, 2014 [11 favorites]

Best answer: The other thing to watch for is complacency, and taking your SO for granted,

And to be clear, I didn't think you sounded complacent at all!

For posterity, I thought I'd add The Admiral Haddock Three-Part Manifesto For a Happy Relationship:

First, thank your partner for everything they do for you or for the household. When they unload the dishwasher, or pick up the dry cleaning, or make dinner, that's them loving you--thank them for it, and love them back!

Second, don't do anything expecting to be thanked, because shit needs to get done. Sometimes I'd rather play guitar when I get home from work instead of unloading the dishwasher, or picking up the dry cleaning, or making dinner. But that generally means that my wife would have to do it when she gets home--so I do it. I don't ever think I need to be thanked for making dinner (or whatever) because someone has to make dinner, and if I don't decide it's me, I'm preemptively deciding it's her. My wife also adheres to rule #1, so I always do get thanked (and kissed! ooh la la!), but if I were to go in expecting to be thanked, what would I be thanked for? "Thank you, Admiral Haddock, for not deciding I would clean the bathroom while you played videogames!"

Third, as slight corollary to #2, I put my wife first in tangible ways that help me remind myself that I love her and sublimate my personal selfishness. This plays out most typically in the kitchen: if there is a particularly perfect steak, or the last glass of our favorite wine, or the piece of cucumber that did NOT fall on the floor (oops), that's what I give my wife. And, importantly, I never tell her, though she often notices. I'm also not perfect--sometimes I really want the bigger piece of pizza--but when I catch myself thinking that way, that's when I know that big piece is for her. I would be literally taking the food out of my wife's mouth so I could gobble it up. I think that would be a pretty petty thing to do to the person I love best in the world.

I was delighted to discover a while back that my wife had been doing the same thing for me when she makes dinner (or chooses a seat at the movies, or whatever), completely on her own.

It sounds like you and your husband have a great marriage. Cherish it!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:27 AM on March 21, 2014 [123 favorites]

I think three years into a relationship, the "honeymoon phase" is no longer a thing.

I've always heard that expression used to describe the limerance in the very beginning of a relationship, when the other person can basically do no wrong in your eyes and you haven't yet had to face the challenges of everyday real life together.

Re being shmoopy in public, I don't think this has anything to do with what "phase" your relationship is in. It's just immature and kind of gross. You should respect the fact that, when you're spending time with other people and not just each other, you need to observe boundaries and pay equal attention to people who've taken out time to be with you.

Also, a word about his child from a previous marriage. My mother and stepfather have the same obnoxious PDA tendencies that you describe, and I've always found it boundary-breaking, inappropriate, and hard to be around. Granted a seven year old is going to gag at any display of affection no matter what, because seven year olds gonna seven year old. But please try to respect the kid's space and right to be around parents in a parent-child way and not a GET A FUCKING ROOM kind of way. Even if you're not like straight up making out in front of the kid, it just feels really alienating when you're trying to have family time with your parent, but your parent really couldn't care less that you're even there.
posted by Sara C. at 11:29 AM on March 21, 2014 [7 favorites]

There's a difference between infatuation (= My Partner Shits Rainbows! He clears his throat in the cuuuuuutest way!) and general schmoopiness (see Marshall & Lily in 'How I Met Your Mother', who fight a lot but are also sickeningly sweet).

I find the people who are overtly schmoopy are a special mix of needy & extroverted & unworried about rejection.

Maybe 'the honeymoon fades!!' is your friends way of saying 'Get a Room!'

But as posted above, schmoop doesn't mean 'this relationship is a healthy living thing' and absence of schmoop doesn't mean 'we secretly hate each other.' Most schmoopers schmoop in private.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:38 AM on March 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I agree with all of those above who say that just because your relationship changes, doesn't mean that it gets 'worse'.

However, you've only been married for 6 months. If people refer to you being in the honeymoon phase after you've been married for two years, then you can raise an eyebrow at them because that doesn't really make sense.

Just because the folks around you aren't smooching and making lovey faces at each other all the time doesn't mean they're not as in love as you are.

Don't worry about what other people think of your relationship or how they show love to each other. Just continue to revel in the fact that you found someone who is just as smoochy and mushy as you are and leave it at that.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:40 AM on March 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Although we've only been married for six and a half years, we've been "an item" for damned nigh 15. We've gone through our ups and downs, but right now we're back in that limerence stage that feels like a brand new relationship.

And, as I said, ups and downs, but there have been a few social situations where people have asked "how long have you been together", gotten an answer longer than they expected, and said "really? You two have that new relationship energy going strong".

Sometimes it takes serious effort to remember that feeling and get back there. Sometimes it takes months of that effort, while the other person isn't feeling it. I also got nothin' bad to say about people who give up on that, not every relationship needs to be rebuilt. But we're humming along.
posted by straw at 11:47 AM on March 21, 2014

Best answer: EVERYONE (including my mom--thanks, Mom) told me that at some point we'd stop being delighted with each other. It hasn't happened. (Started dating 15 years ago, married 10 years ago.) OK, so there's not the instant hormonal reaction spark whenever we brush against each other, but it'd be hard to function if that were still going on anyway. And we get cranky sometimes. But we're still totally, disgustingly into each other, and would rather spend time together than with anyone else. That's not the only way to be a successful couple, but it works for us. So keep on being disgusting, is all I can say!
posted by wintersweet at 12:05 PM on March 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I think you should start worrying less about what other people think about you and your partner's relationship. They have no idea what they're talking about. The relationship exists behind closed doors for the most part from their vantage point anyhow.

And the same goes for you a bit. For what it's worth some couples never have a honeymoon/limerance phase and that works for them well. I didn't have one with my boyfriend as far as anyone can see from the outside. We never hold hands or - god forbid - kiss in public. If we got married I have to say that the public "you may now kiss the bride" thing would really bother me. That's private to me. We are as affectionate now privately as we were in the beginning - more so actually - and I don't think it's a "phase" as much as it is just "now I am knowing you differently than I was."

So when you say "so many couples stop trying and that's why the honeymoon ends" I just think that's, frankly, a bit silly. The honeymoon "period" as you describe is something many couples don't even engage in and I think it says nothing more about their relationship at all - just that this is the type of relationship they want (presumably). My boyfriend and I try hard in our relationship and someone's opinion of whether or not we show it to each other (and really they're assessing it based in what they see not on what is really there) is really none of my business.
posted by sockermom at 12:07 PM on March 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh yeah, I want to agree with sockermom. You never know what's going on in other relationships. I do think it was common in my mom's generation to basically fall out of love but not get divorced, and some couples do start to take each other for granted and stop taking care of each other, but that doesn't mean that every couple who's not equally demonstrative in public and equally into spending all their time together = negligent failures. A couple who are good friends of ours regularly go to separate events on weekends, go to movies without each other, and go out of town alone. It's just how they do it. You do you, other people do other people.
posted by wintersweet at 12:15 PM on March 21, 2014

ps - my boyfriend and I do everything you described privately, down to the "early alarm for extra cuddles" thing. The only difference between our situations is that we don't share our "disgustingness" (which I think was a strange word to use - disgusting?) with anyone but each other. I think what's going on with you is that you're sharing your relationship (or aspects of it) and then listening to how people react to that. Keep on being you - you're obviously super in love and you found someone who brings you excessive joy - but don't listen to the chatter. And don't call your behavior disgusting unless it actually disgusts you - what a way to cut down a lovely wonderful thing! If you really feel like it is disgusting, I suppose you could tone it down in public, but I would just recommend not listening to the people who criticize you and your relationship; people who are saying "this won't last." That's just, like, their opinion, man.
posted by sockermom at 12:17 PM on March 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: The honeymoon "period" as you describe is something many couples don't even engage in and I think it says nothing more about their relationship at all - just that this is the type of relationship they want (presumably).

I fully and 100% agree. My sister sounds very much like you, right down to the public wedding would be embarassing. They exist very different than how my husband and I exist and that is what works her her and her partner. I know they love each other very much and they are very happy, and I am extremely happy for them. What they do works for them! I am fully aware that there isn't one "right" way for a relationship to be, so I didn't mean to imply that 'ANY RELATIONSHIP THAT ISN'T OVERTLY ROMANTIC IS AWFUL!', but rather ask the question that for relationships that had started out more schmoopy and had previously existed in a "honeymoon" phase but had later lost it, and why that was, and whether that was inevitable. Not a "if they didn't do it they failed" but a "they had it, they liked it, they lost it, why?". Apologies for not being more clear on that.

I also think I may have given off an incorrect idea of how my partner and I behave in public. In terms of PDA the worst we do is hold hands and apparently we look at each other lovingly sometimes. The rest is done in private, and we don't go around broadcasting that we have lots of sex and have daily cuddles, we don't have makeout sessions in front of my stepson (seriously?). I agree my stepson shouldn't have to see us make out or anything, and he doesn't, HOWEVER I think it is totally healthy for him to see an example of a loving, caring relationship. We aren't ruining his life and traumatizing him by giving each other a quick kiss when we come home from work. It is good for him to see his parents love each other, treat eachother with kindness and affection and respect, and to see an albeit filtered version of what a healthy adult relationship can look like, especially since it seems clear that he is NOT getting a healthy example of that at his bio-mom's house, and especially because it was a very toxic relationship that he witnessed when his bio-parents were still together.

Re. my use of disgusting, I have an extremely unemotional, vulcan-like family. They aren't much for expressing emotion, especially ones relating to love. (Just look back on my question about a year ago when my family was giving me guff for wanting very normal wedding things, dismissing it all as stupid and ridiculous). The very fact that I got married has been looked down upon as silly and stupid. I disagree with my family and think emotions aren't some horrible things, but I did grow up in that household with those beliefs. My describing what, for me, is an incredibly happy wonderful thing as "disgusting" is likely just a carry over from that.

Those clarifications aside, I really appreciate the answers I have received so far. Very good points about relationships change tremendously over their course, and how the "honeymoon" can morph in to something different but equally good if not better. The function of hormones in this is also interesting. Appreciate the different perspectives.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 12:38 PM on March 21, 2014

After your clarifications, then the only way I could see the schmoop disappearing is if there were other problems in the relationship, or if one of you became physically unappealing for some reason, or one of you became uber-secure and no longer 'naturally' took pleasure in physical touch.

But if you are both schmoop-liking people then that's not likely to change with time.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:06 PM on March 21, 2014

Mod note: Couple of comments deleted. Folks, do not argue with each other or the OP; the question isn't whether lovey-doveyness makes other people uncomfortable. Thanks.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:46 PM on March 21, 2014

I think the "honeymoon phase" is simply a term people use to denote that sort of intense "this person is my whole WOOOORLD" part of a relationship - where everything is rainbows and all you want to do is make out and be around this person ALL THE TIME. It's usually at the beginning of a relationship and often times fades to one of many potential ends. Sometimes it's replaced by not-quite-as-intense, but stronger, feelings. Sometimes it's replaced by indifference - or acceptance. Sometimes it's replaced by the 2 people wanting to get as far away from one another as possible.

Can it last? I think so. But I think it has a lot to do with personality types and the level of affection a couple is comfortable displaying to others. My experience has been that people who are more extroverted and physically affectionate, tend to remain in the "honeymoon phase" for much longer or never leave it at all.

My partner and I can get pretty omgsmoochy-kissey-face, but it's always in private. If we demonstrated this affection in public, we'd likely get the "honeymoon phase" comment, but neither of us are extroverted and, being gay, the public finds our PDA far less acceptable/endearing.

But I digress... you two seem to be a great match. You both crave the same frequency and type of affection. I have a feeling you'll hold onto that "honeymoon phase" for quite a long time (perhaps, forever).
posted by stubbehtail at 5:18 PM on March 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't know. You described yourself as adorable and sickening a lot. I was kind of like, "Got it, I believe you" after a few paragraphs. If you've been in a relationship for 3 years, that's typically enough time that people are out with their true colors.

But why are you asking people on the internet to validate your relationship? In any case, the internet is here to let you know, yes, you are doing a great job job. No, it doesn't sound like there's any particular reason that your romance will die.

I think usually when people talk about the honeymoon period wearing off, they're frequently talking about it deepening into a more realistic love where you're like, "Oh, this person has a lot of flaws and sometimes is smelly! I still love them!" Or where people realize they don't like the flaws and part ways. Anyway, it doesn't have to be a bad thing.
posted by mermily at 6:21 PM on March 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

The honeymoon ends the first time you fight over money. Postpone it for as long as you can.
posted by KwaiChangCaine at 6:37 PM on March 21, 2014

I have known the occasional couple who is still schmoopy after several years. They are rare, but they exist. If you haven't burned out on the desire to schmoop after 3 years, then enjoy it! Usually the honeymoon phase burns out somewhere between 9 months and a year and a half, so I think you are doing well!
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:38 PM on March 21, 2014

Based on my four-year relationship: Yeah, the honeymoon phase exists. But the let-down doesn't have to be awful or dramatic-it can be comfortable instead. And you can rekindle the honeymoon feeling occasionally. Doing new exciting things together helps a lot.
posted by quincunx at 6:22 AM on March 22, 2014

In July we will have been a couple 18 years, we married in 1998. We are still the schmoopy holding hands, saying I love you, sitting beside one another type.

This is through some really bad things from cancer to losing our home (when we were very young) to infertility and on and on.

We have had times that we were not as schmoopy, but we always come back to being that way.

Three years in though and six months of marriage? Even if you aren't the permanent schmoopy types at six months married you should still be!
posted by SuzySmith at 10:30 PM on March 22, 2014

One thing that jumps out at me from the question (that might not reflect reality) is that you seem to have a lot invested in being seen by your friends and others as still being in the honeymoon phase, and it seems you are a bit judgemental of those who do experience the honeymoon period going away - "they didn't put in enough effort" etc.

Life can throw unexpected challenges that can damage the foundations of your relationship, how you recover from those periods is the true test I think. Perhaps you have a high risk pregnancy which can mean physical intimacy is off the cards for a year or so. That can do funny things to your relationship. Or perhaps you move to another country and culture and one of you loves it and the other hates it, or it brings out previously unseen personality characteristics in both of you. Or perhaps, well loads of things (some of which you've already encountered).

Perhaps try to think of that as "not putting in enough effort" but sometimes some people face problems where their relationship goes into survival mode. When they get out of it, the relationship can be different. Stronger, deeper, but possibly less schmoopy.
posted by Admira at 9:00 PM on March 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

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