What is the Honeymoon Phase & How Long Does It Last?

How do you know if you are falling in love or still in the honeymoon phase?
on June 03, 2024
Read time: 10 mins
by Moraya Seeger DeGeare

The infamous honeymoon phase. 

We’ve all been there, smitten with a partner in the early stages of a relationship and believing it will last forever — living in a love bubble of your own design. 

But, how long does the honeymoon phase last in a new relationship, and is our infatuation part of a healthy relationship stage or does every love bubble eventually have to burst? 

Relationship expert Kate Daly, co-founder of Amicable talks us through what happens with our hormones when we experience that big dopamine surge and what happens post-honeymoon phase.

Key Takeaways
  • The honeymoon phase is the initial period of a romantic relationship characterized by intense emotions, deep infatuation, and heightened attraction. It often involves idealizing your partner, constant communication, frequent physical intimacy, and a sense of euphoria.
  • There is no set amount of time for the honeymoon phase, with research indicating it can last anywhere from 3 months to 2 years. However, due to the intensity of the relationship's honeymoon phase, it isn’t sustainable long-term.
  • The end of the honeymoon phase can be marked by the emergence of routine, the recognition of flaws, and more balanced time apart. While many couples don’t survive this transition, it’s necessary to develop a mature, long-term relationship.
  • Successfully moving past the honeymoon phase requires effort, communication, and a willingness to work through challenges together. The goal is to create a partnership built on shared values, good communication, and continuous effort from both partners.

What is the honeymoon phase? 

You know that feeling when you’re in a new relationship, and you feel like your partner can do absolutely no wrong, or that you’ve perhaps fallen into a fairytale. 

That’s called the honeymoon phase of a relationship — where your love goggles are firmly glued to your face! 

This love bubble stage is usually filled with deep conversations, hour-long date nights, and likely, a lot of sex. Even though you know it’s the early days, you can’t help but think that you’ve found the one. 

But is it real? 

What happens in the honeymoon phase?

While we all like to bask in the glow of early love, we can’t let you just walk into the sunset just yet. 

We don’t want to burst your love bubble, but according to a 2020 study, this rush of feeling is actually a dopamine rush where the oxytocin-rich regions of the brain signal to us that we are in love. However, since oxytocin, aka the “love hormone” is also released when we have sex, it’s probably not the most reliable or stable indicator. 

Research also indicates that Cortisol is released during the honeymoon period, which is a hormone that our body releases to help protect that body from a perceived threat. So why is this hormone released? It’s speculated that the intensity of love triggers this reaction, as you don’t want to lose that perceived closeness — so your body goes into hyperdrive to protect it. 

“The honeymoon period is the initial stage of a romantic relationship when the couple is in a state of intense love, passion, and excitement. This period usually lasts anywhere from a few weeks to a few months,” explains Daly. 

“During the honeymoon period, couples often feel a strong connection and a sense of euphoria when they are together. They may spend a lot of time together, go on romantic dates, and engage in physical intimacy.” 

However, it’s not all hormonal, as these feelings often collide with a genuine longing for a romantic relationship. Therefore, getting to the honeymoon phase can feel like a deep reward as we combine that with internal hormonal reactions. 

How can I tell if I'm in the honeymoon phase or not?

While it’s easy to talk about studies and theories from the outside, when you’re in the honeymoon phase — there’s likely no convincing you that this phase will ever end. 

The honeymoon phase is usually marked by intense emotions, heightened attraction, and a sense of blissful infatuation. If you’re unsure if you’re just falling in love or if you’re in the honeymoon phase, it can unhelpfully be quite hard to tell (thanks hormones!) However, these are a few key signs that you’re in the honeymoon phase…

Signs you’re in the honeymoon phase of your relationship 

  1. Intense highs: When you’re around your new romantic partner, you might feel like you’re on cloud 9, with an almost overwhelming state of euphoria when you’re around them. 

  2. Physical attraction: There is no convincing you that your new partner isn’t the hottest thing to have ever walked this earth! As you enjoy the perks of a new relationship, you might be tempted to rip their clothes off every time you see them. 

  3. Idealization: If you’re in the honeymoon phase, you’ve likely become a daydreaming professional. Even though you know it’s early days, you can’t help but idealize your connection and dream about your future together. 

  4. Spending time together: As you get caught up in the honeymoon phase, you might find yourself canceling other plans just so you can spend more time with your partner. While it seems strange, you can feel like you miss them even when you only saw them yesterday. 

  5. Constant communication: When you’re not together, you’re texting, you’re calling or you’re planning your next rendezvous. If anyone else saw your phone they might cringe at the sweet nature of your texts — but for you, you simply can’t get enough. 

How long is the honeymoon phase in a relationship? 

When you’re in the early throes of romantic love, you might think that this exhilarating chapter might last forever. 

However, from a hormone perspective alone, these intense emotions naturally fade over time. There is no set time to be in the honeymoon phase of a relationship, although many experts believe it can be around 3-6 months.

Or, if you’re lucky, it could last much longer. 

A 2015 New York University study showed that, for some, the honeymoon stage could last for 24 months. However, Daly says that this isn’t a normal occurrence. “By definition, it’s short, highly intense, and therefore unsustainable in the long term.”

What are the 5 stages of relationships?

While it’s not visible when you’re in them, most relationships naturally progress through key stages — with the first stage usually the honeymoon period. 

So, what happens after the honeymoon phase? 

Well, when this love bubble pops, there is a natural phase of uncertainty as you come to terms with the reality of the relationship. This is normal, especially when the oxytocin levels start to dwindle — almost like taking off rose-tinted glasses and seeing someone in full color for the first time.

“It’s a well-established psychological phenomenon that when a couple gets together, they go through relationship stages and that they cycle through these stages rather than the stages being a linear progression,” Daly explains.

After the uncertain phase of your relationship, you’ll hit the adjustment stage, either settling into your new normal with this person or deciding to go your separate ways and break up. If you do stay together this is where the acceptance stage happens — accepting that person for their flaws, as well as the things you liked about them.

“We don’t have to love every aspect of a person, in fact, if you reflect on your relationship, people that we deeply care about and have healthy relationships with all have things about them we might not agree with. When a relationship progresses, it’s a matter of deciding if something crosses a values boundary for you or is just a preference,” says Moraya Seeger DeGeare, a licensed marriage therapist and In-House Relationship Expert at Paired. 

How do you know the honeymoon phase is over?

Every relationship is unique, and some couples might vow they’ve never left the honeymoon phase. However, when it’s over, it’s usually pretty easy to tell. 

When this phase ends, it can trigger a lot of change, as the little things that you never noticed — suddenly start to annoy you. 

Am I falling out of love or is the honeymoon phase over?

When the dopamine hit finally starts to subside and the newness of the relationship wears off you’ll start to either question the relationship or decide whether you are going to commit to spending time with your new partner.

This stage of your relationship can be the hardest part, explains Daly. “When this period eventually comes to an end, couples may begin to face more challenges in their relationship as they get to know each other on a deeper level.”

However, she goes on to say that this is normally where most people quit and run. “As people are living longer, and relationship durations are getting shorter, (marriage length is declining, as is marriage itself, and is being replaced by cohabiting relationships which are less stable and therefore shorter in duration) successfully navigating the stages of a relationship is becoming an increasingly important life skill.”

The early stages of a relationship feel great, but they do not always serve as a clear representation of what your relationship will feel like in the long term. So why might you transition from the honeymoon phase to the next stage in your relationship? 

What causes the honeymoon phase to end?

  • Navigating conflict: all long-term relationships involve a certain degree of arguing, and although you may not have broached annoyances at the start of your relationship arguing could make you see your partner in a new light.

  • Red flags: when we start a relationship we may not see annoying habits or even spot enormous red flags, however as time goes on they may start to become more obvious.

  • Reality: whether it is work or family commitments we all have them, but in the early days of your relationship, you may not have given them as much priority. However, a big work meeting or family crisis could mean your sex life and time spent together are put on hold.

  • Change of feelings: once the fun and newness wear off the relationship may not seem as exciting and one or both of you may not see the same compatibility as you did previously.

What happens after the honeymoon phase?

Once real life hits it gives you a chance to see if the relationship is sustainable. In the early stages of your relationship, most of us are on our best behavior — but once the mist clears we can see the relationship for what it is — warts and all.

This is the real test of any relationship, and if you get through the challenges you face — including connecting on a deeper, more vulnerable level, then you could find yourself in a committed relationship with them. 

According to research, it actually takes at least 3-4 months to fall in love. So this stage can actually be equally as wonderful if you have the right person by your side. After all, falling in love when you know the person properly, rather than in a superficial light, will also feel more authentic and sustainable.

Of course, not all relationships survive the next stages of a relationship, but the takeaway could be that as a couple you weren’t compatible. It doesn’t mean that you can’t look back with fondness, but they just weren’t “the one” for you long-term. 

Does the honeymoon phase of a relationship have to end? 

According to research, the honeymoon phase always comes to a natural end — with the reality of relationships eventually rearing its head. 

However, just because you aren’t full of an array of new love hormones does not mean that you can’t make your own version of the honeymoon phase last… 

After all, that’s what the Paired app is there for — to help couples build the kind of relationship that lasts, built on shared values, good communication, and intimacy. 

How can I maintain a healthy relationship after the honeymoon phase ends?

Alongside the Paired app, Daly explains that there are some key pillars that couples need to maintain in order to make a relationship last after the honeymoon phase. 

  • Communication: “This is the cornerstone of a successful relationship that goes beyond the honeymoon period. Make sure you take the time to talk to your partner regularly and openly. Share your thoughts, feelings, and desires with each other, and be willing to listen and compromise.”

  • Romance: “Spending quality time together is vital for keeping the spark alive in your relationship. Plan regular date nights or weekend getaways where you can focus on each other and enjoy each other's company. Surprise your partner with little gestures of love and appreciation, such as a thoughtful note, a surprise gift, or a romantic dinner. These small acts of kindness can go a long way in keeping the spark alive.”

  • Intimacy: “Show physical affection is an essential aspect of any intimate relationship. Make sure to show affection to your partner regularly, such as hugging, kissing, holding hands, and cuddling. Remember that keeping the spark alive in your relationship is an ongoing process that requires effort and commitment from both partners. By prioritizing communication, quality time, surprises, physical affection, and romance, you can keep your relationship fresh, strong, and fulfilling.”

While couples might mourn the loss of the honeymoon phase, or desire to seek that thrill with someone new, we believe that the true victory is finding someone you want to spend forever with. 

That’s the kind of honeymoon that never ends. 

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