What is the honeymoon phase of a relationship?

Dr. Stan Tatkin, MFT, PsyD
Marriage & Family Therapy Specialist

The honeymoon phase of a relationship is the beginning of a relationship when both partners are essentially on drugs – their own endogenous drugs. That’s nature’s way of getting couples together and hopefully launching them into another phase of their relationship. The honeymoon phase is always exciting because the kind of love people enjoy is the addictive kind. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, if people know how to rekindle exciting love, which is the addictive type, then they should be able to do that even when the honeymoon phase is over. Keep in mind however, it takes a good year to get to know somebody. And everything new is going to become old real soon. The brain makes sure of that. The honeymoon phase may get people started but it certainly won’t keep a relationship going. For that people need a secure functioning relationship where the two people are equals, cooperative, collaborative, and maintain a relationship that is fair, just, and sensitive.

Dr. Emily Nagoski
Psychology Specialist

The honeymoon phase is made of attachment—the wildly powerful biological experience we tend to call “falling in love.”

It can last, oh, maybe about 4 years, give or take.

That initial phase, though, isn’t what love is made of; it’s the mania of two people who think they know each other way better than they actually do. Only when you’ve been disillusioned, only when you recognize that you, like every other couple on earth, have (if I remember correctly) about seven irreconcilable differences—things you will never, ever agree on and that you’ll just have to learn to live with if you’re going to stay together—only then are you really committed to each other.
And I don’t mean cute stuff like, “He just doesn’t get why I love Bridget Jones.” I mean hard stuff like, “She doesn’t think it’s a problem, spending every Thanksgiving with her family, and I really  do.” You will always disagree and the only available solutions involve someone not getting something they want.
So ride the early part of the relationship like a wave. It’ll crash eventually. But dude, when it crashes, you’ll be on the beach! And that’s good too, right?

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.