Nothing Lasts Forever: The Science Behind The Honeymoon Phase
Falling in love is an incredible experience that spans over time, but nothing beats the I-can’t-keep-my-hands-off-you honeymoon phase.
It’s that extraordinary time when the only thing you can focus on is your partner and the only thing you want to do is spend time together. The entire world feels like it’s been reduced to you two.
Call it drunk in love or seeing stars, the honeymoon phase is a real phenomenon that's so powerful, it can’t be replicated. Enjoy the sex three times per day and happy-for-no-reason feeling because, once it’s gone, it won’t happen again.
That’s not a reason to fear relationships, though. You can remain madly in love and consistently romantic with your partner, it just requires more work and conscious effort.
Whether you’re just starting out in a new relationship or have recently tied the knot, the honeymoon phase is certainly a glorious place to be. Who wouldn’t want to take a vacation in the land of love filled with googly-eyes, heavy petting and poop-free conversations?
Love, and life, doesn’t get any better than this. Here’s the science behind the honeymoon phase.
You have the utmost support of family and friends
Remember how Mom used to serve shrimp cocktail and fawn over your new boyfriend? Or how your friends complimented your girlfriend?
In a study published in Social Science Research, researcher Spencer James found that all the fanfare during the honeymoon phase reinforces your intense love for each other, but this outpour of support eventually fades over time.
At this point, you’re no longer in the honeymoon phase and are now reliant upon each other to be the cheerleaders of your relationship.
That doesn’t mean your social circle doesn’t love what you've got going on, it just means they don’t need the play-by-play of your magical night with a bottle of wine and watching “Chocolat.”
During the honeymoon phase, you literally feel like you just took a big hit of Whitney Houston as she serenades you with “I Will Always Love You.” These intense feelings of attraction and ecstasy are hypothesized to be caused by elevated levels of nerve growth factor (NGF), which increases euphoria and connection.
You idolize your partner
Before you become acclimated to your partner over time, you can’t help but put them on a pedestal. You say outrageous statements like, “You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” and “What would I do without you?” because it really feels as if they’ve been missing from your life up until now.
Post-honeymoon phase, being with your partner becomes your reality. You might still believe he’s the best person on the planet (second to Yoncé), but you no longer have your head in the clouds about who he truly is.
Celebrations and lavish gifts stop rolling in
Long after your wedding is over, you’re still receiving congratulations and presents and encouragement on your future together.
In the same study, Spencer found that marriage is almost always better in the beginning, and these perks of getting hitched could contribute to that perception.
When the honeymoon phase ends, the gifts and parties come to a halt. Hopefully, you still love your hubby as much as that new china.
Disagreements are inevitable
You think you’re the perfect couple after going weeks without arguing and, to some extent, you are.
During this blissful moment, you’re more about pleasing the other person than you are for yourself.
This kind of behavior is fleeting, however, as eventually you’ll have disagreements. They say you gotta fight for love, right?
The can't-keep-my-hands-off-you feelings may fade
The honeymoon phase involves lots of what Christopher Columbus would call “Body Exploration.”
In the beginning, it’s all about jumping each other’s bones and then jumping into each other’s bed and then jumping each other’s pants, and all of this jumping is bound to get exhausting.
Post honeymoon phase, after you practically have the layout of his penis memorized, you become comfortable with not having sex every day.
And while this might seem like an unwanted downside, the upside is that your roommates will start liking you again.
Nothing annoys you... yet
Remember that one about idolizing your partner (see #3)? You don’t even see his flaws. You don’t realize that her constant gum-chewing drives you mad. You aren’t bothered by his messy heaps of clothing everywhere.
You think your partner sh*ts gold and smells like angels. That is the real power of the honeymoon phase -- the temporarily ability to wipe out all your partner’s pesky qualities and see her as perfect in your eyes.
You're entering the next phase of love
We all want to take up permanent residence in the land of love, but alas, the honeymoon phase has an expiration date.
According to one New York University study, researchers found that the phase wears off after about 30 months (which is actually a long time to be thinking your hubby’s inability to lower the toilet seat isn’t annoying).
Don’t go running for the hills after this special time, though. “Many married couples report entering into a different type of love, which is just as deep (if not deeper) than that initial fire.”
The honeymoon phase might be over, but there’s an additional layer of intimacy, stability and commitment that follows.
The honeymoon phase might not be eternal, but true love is.