I would always roll my eyes when others claimed my relationships were in the “honeymoon phase.” Who are they to reduce the meaningful connection and deep emotions I felt for my significant other to something so fleeting?
I have a had deep disdain for these terms for the entirety of my dating life. The very existence of these concepts perpetuates the thought that, at some point, you and your significant other will start to love each other less.
Weren’t terms like “puppy love” just doubting generalizations made by older generations to discredit the idea that teens and young adults could have love for each other?
Well, while the majority of people who would say these things to me were a generation or two older than me, I have had a handful of people, who I had been dating at the time, state the our relationship was transitioning out of the “honeymoon phase.”
However, there is a difference between how these two groups manipulate these phrases. While older generations use them to describe how the love-drunken goggles we wear in the initiating stages of a relationship are shed as time progresses, younger generations use them as excuses for why they eventually cease putting forth effort as a relationship stagnates.
Does a relationship naturally stagnate after a certain point? Or do relationships stagnate as a result of either party, or both, putting forth less effort?
There is no way to give a definitive answer—for all relationships are unique and possess many differing variables and outliers—but, as a hyper-attendant, love-dovey significant other, I was never able to wrap my head around the reasoning of my peers.
If you love someone, truly, why would you ever pass up an opportunity to express how important they are to you?
Sure, after some times passes, both parties will get comfortable, so there’s less pressure all around. Shaving regularly? Meh. Eating with perfect manners? Not required. Putting on makeup everyday? No thanks. Professing your feelings for the other person? What for? “We’re already dating/engaged/married/etc.”
Maybe you’ve lost the urge to shout your devotion to this person from the rooftops, but does that mean the “spark” is fading? Is it fair to say the relationship has left the “honeymoon phase?”
Yesterday night, as my boyfriend and I sat in my living room, painstakingly collaborating on my horrendous statistics homework for four hours, both frustrated, moody, exhausted, and agitated, the realization dawned on me: My relationship has left the honeymoon phase.
We’ve traded our weekend road-trips and spontaneous food adventures for nights spent indoors, scheduled around long homework sessions with half hour dinner breaks, followed by rewarding ourselves with a bit of Netflix only to pass out from exhaustion ten minutes into the movie.
Between my boyfriend’s career, his graduate courses, caring for a new puppy, and me, being enrolled in the second half of my junior year at UIC—which entails ridiculously time-demanding course work as a Communications major, English minor (i.e. a horrendous amount of reading)—our once central focus on our interpersonal relationship has been brushed to the side.
The “honeymoon phase” is over, but it does not hold the implications I believed it would.
Though our lives are hectic, and we have not had a full day alone together, I do not love him any less. The “spark” has not faded. Neither of us are trying any less than before.
But nothing is the same.
I once believed such a day would never come if you were with the right person, but the key difference between leaving the “honeymoon phase” with the wrong person versus with the right person, lies in the outcome.
When this happens with the wrong person, resentment usually settles in. You’ll question why she’s not complimenting you as much, why he’s distant, why she’s moody, etc. You’ll fixate on all the negative aspects of change and, eventually, you’ll part ways.
When this happens with the right person, you’ll (typically) be too busy to notice. Once you take a moment and the realization hits you, you’ll reflect on the time that has passed. Though so much has changed, maybe some things in such ways with which you are not entirely content, you’re still thankful.
You’ll focus on the positives: how he’ll work for eight hours then spend his down time taking over puppy monitoring just so you can have a half-hour to yourself or the way she rubs your shoulders after you’ve had a long day even though she’s exhausted too.
Your lives may be changing in terrifying, seemingly impossible, ways but you appreciate the fact that you’re facing it together.
Adversity changes all relationships, but when it strengthens your bond instead of causing it to fall apart, that is the true definition of leaving the “honeymoon phase.”
You won’t love less; you’ll love unconsciously. Differently, but naturally.