Understanding the Honeymoon phase and unlocking the benefits of a long-term relationship

The advantages of being single:

There are many wonderful advantages of being single that you simply can’t replicate in a relationship. Being single offers unencumbered freedom, spontaneity and the magic of connecting with another person for the first time. Sure, you might still have responsibilities and monotony but you can also find moments in your life where you move in the direction of the wind and land in the most unexpected destinations. In many ways you have to be more vulnerable and more willing to drop inhibitions but the rewards can be very exciting and connecting. 

The Honeymoon Phase:

For those lucky enough to be in a relationship some of the magical moments experienced when single can lead to a connection with another person. In the beginning things seem more intense, more exciting and the pull toward one another is seamless and magnetic. These are moments to be savoured as many people don’t ever recapture the feeling of ‘the honeymoon phase’ again. It is a privileged journey for those who are single and moving into a bonded relationship. It is often described as a love drug between two people. From a psychological perspective the honeymoon phase occurs for a variety of reasons. There are several strong undercurrents at play during the honeymoon phase. The first is related to the vulnerability and excitement of attachment insecurity. When two people first meet there is no agreed or felt sense of a secure attachment bond. This state leaves people in their most vulnerable position, there is an insecurity, a ‘what if’ and the insatiable desire to get more confirmation to satisfy this attachment insecurity. If you have ever experienced a food fast you will understand how food deprivation can lead to food delight. The simplicity of good bread, butter and jam becomes a scintillating gastronomic experience. This is true to that loved up feeling in the honeymoon phase. The insecurity, the unknown and the vulnerability heighten the experience of every bonding moment. The simplicity of touch and holding hands brings with it sparks, electricity and heartbeats. Moments are desired and replayed in the mind long after the date ends. Sexual tension and desire is also a strong undercurrent of the honeymoon phase. Tensions and urges rise and the physical sexual chemistry build, leading to exciting sexual encounters and post coitus highs. There is nothing more physically closer than sex and there is strong individual meaning and interpretation as a result of this which also fuses attachment bonding. The final undercurrent relates to ‘self expansion’. When two worlds collide you gain new experiences and insights into life. Your world expands through your partners, insights, hobbies, work, friends, family and even location. Self expansion is highly correlated with contentment and positive brain health. It is the opposite of routine and stagnation and it fuels the good feeling in the relationship. The fusion of these undercurrents play a major role in the honeymoon phase.    

The exclusive benefits of being in a long term relationship:

If your relationship continues to move in the right direction after the honeymoon phase the benefits of a long term relationship are ignited. Being in a long term relationship might not offer you the goose bumps of the honeymoon phase or the excitement of single life but it has many deep benefits. People often underestimate how much a positive relationship can be the foundation of your own personal success. A strong relationship is one that is supportive, encouraging and without judgement. It provides a sense of security and sanctuary giving you the platform to reach toward a life inline with your values, goals and ideals. Having a sense of deep love and acceptance has a very positive effect on your mental health and well being. Having a loving companion is like having a buffer in life. There is a sense that life is shared and that you have a teammate to celebrate the highs and ride out the lows with. Suffering, stress and grief is inevitable in life. A hand held while going to sleep, the offer of a cup of tea or the comfort of a hug offers a warm blanket even in the coldest of moments. If you trust and love your partner and feel it in return it simply makes you stronger. Individuals in the best relationships continue to experience ‘self expansion’ by tapping into new experiences together. In doing so they recapture moments of the joy, excitement and desire experienced in the honeymoon phase. Equally as important, they continue to feel growth as an individual and they see their partner as a crucial element in their journey of life. The individual forms the beliefs through their experience that the colour and richness of their life is facilitated through their relationship and thus strengthens the bonds and value of their partner. The experiences of joint goals and adventures is reinforced through the satisfaction and feelings of mastery which is achieved when long term positive outcomes come to fruition. Sex life in long term relationships can actually improve for a lot of couples. For couples who feel comfortable with each other there is less to be self conscious about, less pressure and an openness to mutual exploration which can lead to more regular and better sex. 

7 pitfalls that prevent a long term healthy relationship:

Unfortunately the exclusive benefits of a long term relationship are not guaranteed. Many couples never realise their potential. Here are 7 reasons why people fail to get the most out of their relationship.
There is too much conflict that goes unresolved. That is, conflict is a regular feature of the relationship and issues are often ‘swept under the carpet’.

  1. There is not enough self reflection and change. The focus is on the other person and their faults.
  2. Individuals do not understand the baggage they bring to a relationship and negative dynamic cycles are never resolved.
  3. Partners live in parallel with different values and are not investing enough time in their relationship.
  4. The relationship is stagnated and monotonous. There is no new learning or adventure.
  5. Partners stop listening to each other and there is little validation in the relationship. 
  6. Partners stop listening to each other and there is little validation in the relationship.
  7. Superficial Ego gets in the way of unconditional love.

7 Attributes of a positive relationship:

There are many different facets and attributes of a positive long term relationship. The following list is by no means exhaustive, but the points are essential ingredients:

  1. The couple realises that positive chemistry and love is a daily choice, it is a step toward each other rather than something that occurs without effort.
  2. Loyalty and respect toward each other comes before all others.
  3. Love is felt most when you act with love and kindness toward your partner.
  4. Both partners realise that there are always two stories occurring and it is important to read from both books. Validation and empathy is a key foundation.
  5. Healthy relationships have two partners who can express themselves without fear or judgement. 
  6. The couple continues to work on reducing negative conflict styles and increasing healthy communication.
  7.  The couple encourages and supports both individual and couples growth and adventure.

We (Helen and Shahn)  are both Clinical Psychologists, Couples Therapists, married and the Co Founders of My Love Your Love couples therapy and app. The aim of the app is to assist couples in unlocking the exclusive and amazing benefits that can occur in long term relationships. The app mirrors real life in that it is a process that requires effort and input from both partners. Both partners have the app which is synchronised and progression is an interactive and joint process.  It takes couples on a journey to de-tangle conflict, understand baggage and strengthen the bonds through deeper connections and couples growth. You don’t need to be in significant relationship distress to benefit from this app. In fact, you are likely to benefit from the app before too much damage has occurred in your relationship. If you don’t feel you are getting all of the benefits of a long term relationship then this app is for you.

Written by Shahn Baker Sorekli

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