Ask Wendy

How Do I Transition from the Honeymoon Phase to the Long-Term Phase in a New Relationship?

Reprinted from October 28, 2016
Hey Wendy,

What’s your best advice for transitioning successfully from the honeymoon phase to the long-term phase in a new relationship?

Jessica T. — San Diego, CA

Hey Jessica,

Thank you for asking! Because one of the most important lessons you could learn is that the fairytale called “happily ever after” isn’t real. Some people have to lose their first marriage to learn this lesson. But the root of the problem isn’t that love isn’t real. The mischief starts with the folklore concept “meant to be” because once you go down that magical path (high, by the way), you expect “happily ever after” to show up one turn later, and with little to no effort on anyone’s part. And five, ten, or fifteen years later you wake up next to someone you love, who looks and acts a whole lot like a sibling instead of a lover. Want something different?

Don’t buy into the fairytale: When that initial, super-hot intensity starts to wane, don’t think the fairytale got it right but it’s you who picked wrong.

Recognize there’s nothing off with the two of you. The initial zesty-hotness in any new relationship is a cocktail mixture of chemistry, newness, and uncertainty. The slowdown doesn’t mean you don’t love each other – it does mean that you know and count on each other.

You can keep every bit of that crazy hotness you crave. Want to know how? Break up. Create a drama that fuels uncertainty. Fight a lot. Throw dishes, even. No?

Okay then.

When chemistry lightens up and uncertainty is replaced with predictability, add these three ingredients to the mix to successfully transition from honeymoon to old and happy:

Stay new to each other: Remain curious when listening to each other. Learn things about each other. Create the newness in your lives by discovering new friends, embarking on uncharted terrain and testing out novel ideas together and separately. Want more ideas? Read Ask Wendy 9/30/16.

Own what you need: Chances are when you were first together, there were things you needed that you just might have gone without. You know: you wanted to be low-maintenance, very little trouble, or self-sufficient. But now that you’re both sticking around, it might make sense to bring balance into play by speaking up.

There’s no time like the present to express what you need so it can be accommodated or at least talked about. This way it’s not a total (unlovely) surprise to him when he sees what you become when you’ve –um – gone too long without getting what you need.

Enjoy the camaraderie: The inside jokes, the banter, his heightened sense of humor, the ease and flow in your shared life, hot sex, snuggling, and intimate expressions forming between the two of you. Delight in coupling well with someone who keeps you safe, watches out for you and has your back.


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