7 Things To Do When You Realize You Can't Go Back To The 'Honeymoon Phase'

Unrealistic expectations are the downfall of many relationships.

Last updated on Jan 18, 2024

Couple post honey moon phase working together Dean Drobot | Canva 

So many couples faced with relational difficulty wish they were right back where the relationship started: in the honeymoon phase.

Everything was exciting and intense then. You didn’t think about healthy relationship expectations because everything felt right.

You felt consumed by each other and missed the other person when they went to the bathroom.

Your feelings during this honeymoon phase were expansive and overwhelming in a good way. These are the feelings you want to return to.


You shouldn’t feel bad if you want to go back to a constant state of euphoria with your partner. I mean, wouldn’t we all, if we had the choice?

You can't go back to your honeymoon phase, but you can adjust your relationship expectations.

RELATED: 10 Unfair Relationship Expectations That Are Damaging Your Marriage

Here are 7 things to do when you realize you can't go back to the 'honeymoon phase':

1. Create healthy expectations around conflict

Relationship expert John Gottman divides conflicts into two kinds: those that are solvable and those that are unsolvable. Gottman believes that unsolvable conflicts represent 69% of all conflicts.


This means you need to deal with unsolvable conflicts if your relationship is to stand the test of time. One way of doing this is creating healthy relationship expectations surrounding conflicts.

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Photo: haunted Luminous via Shutterstock

2. Be willing to work on your relationship.

Without putting in time or effort, it will be difficult for your relationship to last over time. This may seem obvious, so in that case, watch how much effort and time you’re currently giving to the relationship.


Is there an area you could work on a little bit more? Perhaps one you’re currently avoiding, such as your intimacy?

Low libido in long-term relationships is common. And when you haven’t been physically close in a long time, it’s easy for intimacy to become a significant deal.

Everything and anything that reminds you that you "should" be intimate: a scene on T.V., the way your partner cozies up to you in bed, or even just the mention of intimacy from your partner, can cause you to tense up.

3. Continue to develop your identity while still being a team.

Many people believe that cultivating your identity is crucial for attraction and desire to flow.


If you’re no longer sure where your partner begins and you end, you might want to work on rekindling your identity.

4. Idealize your partner’s personality and behavior.

At first glance, this may sound a tad strange. But, researcher Sandra Murray has, in several studies, found that those who are the happiest a few years into the relationship are those who idealized their partner at the start of the relationship.

This can look like idealizing certain traits your partner has, such as their intelligence or kindness, or how they treat you by cooking your favorite meal or suggesting a fun date night activity.

RELATED: How to Tell Your Partner You're Unhappy


5. Respond to your partner’s attempts at communication.

Healthy relationship expectations surrounding communication are paramount. When looking at the most long-lasting, strong relationships, you can see people respond to their partner’s attempts at communication.

This doesn’t mean you're brilliant at it all the time, nor do you never miss the mark. It means that those who respond more frequently to their partner’s attempts are happier with their relationship and tend to have longer-lasting relationships.



6. Be supportive of your partner.

Being a great support, whether in times of sorrow and hardship or in times of happiness and excitement, is crucial.


If you’re interested in making your relationship resilient, look at how much you and your partner are willing to support one another’s goals, how willing you are to compromise, and what you’re both prepared to sacrifice for each other.

7. Build a resilient relationship.

When it comes to making your romantic relationship last over time, it’s all about setting healthy relationship expectations, not going back to the honeymoon phase.

You can still make your romantic relationship last over time without trying to go back.

Finding “the one” and living together happily ever after is a widespread ideal, especially in the Western world.

But ideals are, per definition, unattainable. Looking to reach that ideal of constant euphoria and butterflies galore may, therefore, lead to a crisis in your relationship.


Wanting an ideal isn’t bad. But believing it should be a constant leads to feeling like something is missing. This leads you to believe you shouldn’t be together anymore when there’s nothing wrong in the first place.

Expectations are vital to cultivating a great, strong relationship.

Healthy relationship expectations

Even if constant butterflies aren’t necessarily the goal, you and your partner can learn how to make your relationship last and thrive over time, with the reservation that what you’re striving for is a realistic idea of a relationship.

Some researchers, like John Gottman, call this "striving towards a good enough marriage." And, in reality, that’s perhaps where you should attempt to set the bar, at least for every day.


A good enough relationship is one where you still want to be with your partner after years or decades together — a relationship where you still enjoy your time together.

You must continuously evaluate ideas and attitudes to maintain realistic expectations of yourself, each other, and the relationship.

You need to ask yourself why you want things to be a certain way and if those goals are desirable in every situation.

No matter how in love you are or how unstable your relationship is, things are constantly changing — and the change may work in both directions!


RELATED: The 4 "Golden Rules" For Better Intimacy In Your Relationship

What the research says

If you’ve asked how people make a relationship last over time, you’re not alone. That's, indeed, the million-dollar question.

Everyone wants to know how to do it.

A few crucial principles govern the durability and success of a romantic relationship. For your relationship to last, you usually need to focus on other things than what initially attracted you to one another.

Your relationship’s strengths and weaknesses

Dating apps can easily have you believe similarity in personalities is the critical factor for a lasting relationship. However, being similar doesn’t guarantee a healthy love affair — even if it can be important in terms of how we become attracted to someone.


So, what's important, then?

To create long-term love, you must focus on your strengths and weaknesses.

And to do this, you need to come at them from a perspective of healthy relationship expectations. Without the right expectations, no amount of work will ever be enough.

It’s not uncommon to forget to appreciate the strengths you share as a couple. Appreciation is as vital to relationship resilience as is working on your weaknesses.

This can be done by examining your relationship’s strengths and weaknesses and working on them together to make your bond stronger and your relationship more resilient.

RELATED: How To Stop Expectations Vs. Reality From Killing Your Relationships


Leigh Norén is a therapist and writer with years of counseling experience regarding relationships and love. She’s been featured in Women's Health, Thrive Global, The Good Men Project, Elephant Journal, Glamour, and more.