Why Coming Down from the Honeymoon High needs to Happen (and that’s a good thing)

The honeymoon period of a relationship is that ooey gooey blissed-out moment where you both are in an other-worldly trance, basking in the glow of love, and wondering how you ever lived without one another.

There’s no denying it, the honeymoon phase feels good. The tingles on the skin, butterflies in the stomach and heart fluttering in the chest — -damn good. The googly eyes, tingly sighs, and jell-o knees — -so so good.

But, my friend, I’m sorry to break the bad news: The honeymoon phase must end eventually. You need to come down off that high and back to real life — -and that’s a good thing.

You can’t drive drunk

Just like you shouldn’t operate heavy machinery after smoking a joint or drive after a few drinks, you are incapable of dealing properly with life when your brain is swimming and your heart is singing.

Love is literally a drug. As an article in Salon describes:

New love can have similar effects on the brain as cocaine. Helen Fisher, an anthropologist and relationship researcher, conducted a series of fascinating brain imaging studies of the brain chemistry and brain structure underlying new love. She found that serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine are crucially involved in the initial stages of romantic love in much the same way as they are in cocaine use.
When you fall in love with someone, norepinephrine fills you with raucous energy, serotonin boosts your self-confidence, and dopamine generates a feeling of pleasure. New love is a kind of love addiction but not yet a kind of pathological love addiction. In falling in love, however, the brain is on crack — a dangerous state of mind.

We can’t take time off work because we’re in love so instead we do our best to function in this completely altered state. Your colleagues and friends will think your loved-up delirium is cute but eventually they’re going to want you to come back down to earth and start acting normal again. You still need to do chores, work, eat and sleep, and if you want to maintain your friendships you’ll need to stop talking so much about how much you love your love.

Chemistry doesn’t always mean compatibility

With your love goggles on they are perfect to you and you two are perfect together. It’s only after you graduate from the honeymoon phase that you see how things really are and if you are compatible for the long term.

To be compatible there are lots of variables to factor in: Lifestyle choices, social habits, libido, core values and beliefs, personal and professional ambitions, and outlook on life (to name a few). If in the honeymoon phase everything comprises beautiful brushstrokes, it is once you’ve come down from Cloud Nine that you will notice the nuts and bolts to see if the relationship has the necessary fundamentals to work.

Too much of a good thing is just as bad as too little

Name your pleasure — -food, sex, alcohol, exercising, sleeping — -if you have too much of it, you won’t find the same satisfaction you once did. Your Significant Other is the same. Spend too much time with them and you start to get overwhelmed and numb. What you need to do is put some distance between each other — -something that’s virtually impossible during the honeymoon phase. You need to simmer down a little so it’s easier to spend time apart, which is (in part) what will give your relationship longevity.

In Esther Perel’s TED talk from 2013, she discusses the importance of longing and distance to keep us interested in our partner. Consider the first few dozen times you have sex with a new partner everything is novel and exciting. That won’t be the case after a dozen months (let alone a dozen years). Putting distance — literally or figuratively — between you two you can keep the passion alive.

It’s sad to say good-bye to the honeymoon phase because those feelings are amazing and neither of you know what will happen next: Either you transition to something more subdued or you end it and look for someone else who is more compatible in the long run. Regardless of what happens you’ll always have the delicious memories from your honeymoon.

xo MD

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