When someone tells me they’re blissfully in the honeymoon phase I have to actively repress a laugh.
WTF is the honeymoon phase?
Sure, I remember the nervous butterflies at the beginning of every relationship. That unsure, excited, trying-to-put-your-best-foot-forward feeling must be what they’re talking about. But, once those high-energy jitters have worn off, and you’ve had the talk, has anyone really found the beginning of a relationship the easiest?
In my experience, the first year with someone has been a massive learning curve. It’s full of vulnerability, compromise, and ah-ha! moments.
Expectations vs. reality
As humans we walk into most situations with a set of expectations. Romantic relationships are no exception – in fact, they might prove this more than any other scenario.
These expectations have been forming our whole lives, without us taking much notice. We’ve seen the success or failure of our parents relationship(s) as what we want and don’t want. We’ve had exes who’ve wooed us, or let us down. We’ve watched friends get walked all over and sworn we’d never let that happen to us. We’ve seen movies, heard music, read books and discussed relationships incessantly until we’ve formulated our expectation of what we do and don’t want.
So what happens when you meet someone you’re crazy about, but they don’t always send you the “Good morning, beautiful” text that you’ve told yourself is essential? How about if gasp! they don’t want to sleep in on Saturdays? Or, something more serious like, they aren’t interested in spending time with your family?
You talk about it.
Gross, right? Because who wants to nag about texts instead of feeling those honeymoon butterflies? Sorry, honey. Letting someone know why something is important to you is key. If they feel like it’s silly, find some common ground for compromise. Often it comes down to simply bringing consciousness to something.
My overly analytical brain was convinced my boyfriend was happy to have a break from me when his “Hi babe!” mid-morning texts stopped. When I asked him about it, his very pragmatic brain said, “Oh, I thought with your new job you didn’t want the distraction.” Et voila. The little sign that he was thinking of me resumed.
Note: your expectations are there for a reason. Don’t sell yourself short. Compromise is a wonderful thing, but don’t compromise yourself in the process.
Oh, there’s the line
Boundaries are different for everyone, and getting to know where your partners are can be a bit *ahem challenging. It can be simple, like not taking it personally when they want alone time, or knowing they’re uncomfortable with you staying out past 2am.
When one independent person starts to discover the ways of another independent person, it becomes pretty clear whether they can build a life together – or not. Someone’s definition of what makes them secure or like themselves might not be for you, and that comes out pretty quickly within the first few months.
Case of the ex
Best-friend-he-dated-once, baby-mama, the-one-who-cheated-on-him, the-one-you-always-run-into, or the shows-up-late-night-confessing-her-love ex. They all come with a certain set of hurdles and mind-fucks that you can’t escape from. Maybe he’s having a hard time trusting you. Maybe you’re uncomfortable with their closeness. Maybe you’re just not a fan of her vibes around him.
This stuff passes as all three parties set out boundaries that work for your situation. (No, you can’t Bye, Felicia! the mother of his child.)
We’re a packaged deal
Family naturally puts a certain amount of pressure on a relationship. Why do you think there are so many bad-in-law jokes in sitcoms? Each family member comes with their own expectations, a long-standing relationship with your partner, and opinions.
That first year can be a doozy, with a lot of tongue-biting. Personally, I know I’m of the mindset that I can bitch about them, but you’d better not. And, I know I’m not alone. Your job in the alleged “honeymoon phase” is to win them over, bond with them, tell them how much you love and adore me. You can earn the right to understand my complaints after you’ve paid your dues – just like my best friends have.
Then we can bitch about them – from a place of love – together.
I’m not as perfect as my profile said
The first time you ugly cry or get embarrassingly drunk are one thing. But what about that inner, intimate stuff that your closest friends might not even see? It’s hard to go a full year without getting down to the core – and it’s scary. I remember being racked with horror during the first few months that I wouldn’t live up to the standard of how my boyfriend saw me. I was sure he’d run when he discovered the anxious, fearful sides of me that juxtaposed his favourite traits of mine. I’ll admit, it wasn’t always easy – I hated showing him myself that way. I felt exposed. Naked, even. But we got through it.
I saw him at his truest, too.
The love we have is real stuff. The stuff that comes with an intimacy and closeness that no meet-cute story could ever rival.
So, how about that honeymoon phase? Byeeeeee.
Sure, it’s been a while since I’ve been in the honeymoon phase. But I still remember the sigh of relief I felt on the other side.
There’s a security in having someone who knows you forwards and backwards, and loves you anyway. Someone who might not always agree with you, but knows you’re heading towards the same goals so listens, explains, understands. Someone who pushes you to be a better person, and face your fears. Someone to pick you up when you’re down, pour you a glass of wine, and who knows you can’t watch anything too scary before bed.
It’s far from perfect, and I know there will be lots of hurdles along the way as we evolve and life happens. But, I’m thankful for surviving the honeymoon. This real-love stuff is pretty incredible.