Sweatpants > sweating nervously on the first date.
The honeymoon period, as the name suggests, is a time of mostly-uninterrupted romantic bliss at the beginning of your brand-new relationship. You never fight, you’re always in a supernaturally fantastic mood because you’re ~iN lOvE~, and everyone compliments how glowy you look.
Here’s the thing though: I hate it. While opening up via gushy texts and hooking up for the first time are momentous romantic experiences, I could never separate them from the worry of not knowing if this guy will turn out to be a douche and hurt me in the end. And I’ve always dreaded hearing “Enjoy the honeymoon period while it lasts!!!”, as if after six months the spell abruptly breaks and you automatically morph into two PJ-clad, bickering curmudgeons who can’t remember why they ever liked each other. Even if that’s a possibility.
“There is strong research evidence the passion declines over time, so people should expect that to happen in their relationships,” says Gwendolyn Seidman, Associate Professor of Psychology at Albright College in Reading, PA. “People who have the most unrealistic expectations about how wonderful and blissful their relationship will be tend to end up disappointed.”
Obviously, long-term relationships require work, but what’s wrong with that? Why is going through challenges and coming out stronger less romantic than making out in a dive bar booth when you still only barely know each other?
Anyway, I stand convinced that the honeymoon period is deeply overrated and far from the best times of any solid relationship. Here are seven reasons why:
1. You inevitably stress over EVERY TINY THING.
The first few months of a relationship is all about sweating the microscopically-small stuff, and, according to Dr. Seidman, basically trying to send the message “‘I’m pretty picky about who I date, but I think you’re great”. That means painstakingly analyzing your text bubble ratios, shuffling through at least six date outfits for your Totally Casual Date, NBD, You’re Not Spiraling! and maybe, if he took too long too respond, doubling your reply time.
AKA why would anyone miss this??? Just fast-forward to the stage where I get explosive food poisoning and he runs out at 4am to buy me Gatorade – THAT is romance.
2. You feel like all your dates have to involve doing something fancy.
“People do tend to try harder early in a relationship to impress each other, dressing up for dates, etc.,” says Seidman. “So that ‘getting to know you’ stage is associated with people putting more effort into the relationship, and that feels more romantic.”
Dates at speakeasies where you both glance into each others’ eyes amid flattering candlelight and $17 rosemary martinis are fine, whatever. But have you ever both been too tired to go out on a Friday night, so you eat loaded nachos for dinner while binging Black Mirror? Both scenarios are powerfully romantic, indifferent, almost opposing ways. And that’s ok!
There’s absolutely no real barrier to what you’re supposed to do once the honeymoon period is over – if you feel like you’ve been couching it too much and miss getting dressed up for a date, you can, at any time!
3. You feel like never fighting is the status-quo.
Let’s face it: your first fight as a couple, which could be over something as innocuous as a misread emoji, feels so much worse when it abruptly ends a period eerily lacking ANY conflict. “After the honeymoon period, there is a period of adjustment that happens as the relationship gets more serious,” explains Dr. Seidman. “There is a theory called ‘the relational turbulence model’ which explains the ups and downs of relationship satisfaction during those early stages. As two people start to get more serious about each other, they need to merge their lives together. That means that they interfere with each other.”
Transitioning into a serious relationship where you factor another person into your life will undoubtedly lead to some fights, but that’s good! Arguing (so long as it’s done in a healthy way) only feels bad because the honeymoon period can make you believe that you and your partner really will get along perfectly 100 percent of the time. The lies!
4. While you’ll probably have lots of sex, it’s still not *the best* sex.
Obviously, a healthy sex life is associated with a great relationship, but if the basis for comparison is when you’d have sex four times a day and eat greasy takeout to fuel up for round five, you will always be disappointed. “It is normal for sexual frequency to decline, as passion does,” says Seidman. “However, research suggests that very frequent sex is not necessarily a sign that the relationship is especially good. Couples who had sex once a week or more tended to be more satisfied than couples who had sex less often. But having sex more than once a week offered no additional benefit.”
All to say: quality over quantity. The longer you know each other, the easier it gets to talk about what actually turns you on.
5. You might overlook some red flags during this time, especially if you’re feeling insecure.
You’ve probably known at least one person who went through a bad breakup and immediately jumped into a new relationship, only to have it crash and burn once the honeymoon period was over. “There was some interesting research on ‘deal breakers’ in relationships” says Dr. Seidman. “For most people, ‘deal breakers’ were a bigger deal than ‘deal makers’ in influencing their dating decisions. However, people who saw themselves as less desirable mates were more willing to overlook the presence of ‘deal breakers’ if the potential partner had other ‘deal makers.'”
While the novelty of a new relationship is enticing and magical on its own, it can be very hard to tell if your partner will work with you in the long-term when you can’t see everything objectively.
6. It’s impossible to sustain this feeling forever, and if you could, it’d be super unhealthy.
“During the early stages of a relationship, people’s brains release a chemical that is similar in its effects to amphetamines,” says Seidman. “This explains why people can appear to be so overexcited about their relationships, and they will stay up all night talking or have sex all the time. In some sense, they’re high.”
Both the ultra-heightened emotions and holing yourself up in your S.O.’s apartment almost every day for a month are ok for a period, not for life. You gotta get a good night’s sleep and have some space sometime.
7. The ENTIRE BIOLOGICAL POINT of the honeymoon period is for you to stay together long enough for the more boring (but still great!) stuff.
“Evolutionary psychologists would claim that it was beneficial to the species to be really excited about and invested in the early stages of the relationship,” says Seidman. “It takes considerable effort to re-arrange your lives to form a relationship – if it didn’t feel so exciting and so wonderful, then people wouldn’t put in the effort. Early humans who felt a lot of passion and excitement in the early stages of courtship are the ones who were more likely pass on their genes.”
All to say: the honeymoon period isn’t the best part of your relationship – it exists SO that the best parts can happen in the long run. Personally, I don’t miss the times of wondering why he didn’t respond to my joke yet or spending more than 30 seconds on a selfie Snap. Bring on the joint Netflix accounts and the freedom to be my true, flawed, occasionally gross self: I went through the honeymoon period to earn it.