The beginning of a romantic relationship is a whirlwind of hormones, dreams, and fantasies of a perfect future. You wonder how you ever managed to live without your new partner. Everything feels magical. The two of you feel inseparable. It’s euphoric love. You overlook one another’s faults, and assume that you’ll always be able to resolve your differences quickly and easily.
Scientists say that the symptoms we feel when we are in love are similar to those who have OCD: the obssessed, can’t think straight, can’t eat, can’t wait to see him feelings are all too common. Furthemore, researchers say that the nucleus accumbens, the part of the brain that is involved in addiction (say to cocaine, or gambling) lights up when we are “in love.”
Unfortunately (and fortunately), this stage doesn’t last forever. Many couples’ brains calm down after the honeymoon period is over. Some people transition into this comfortable, deeper, more secure stage quite nicely. However, others may feel like something is not right. They may feel like the shine has worn off their relationship, and reality of being with a flawed human starts setting in. Some people might be left wondering, “What went wrong?”
Accept that all relationships lose their initial passion
Smart couples keep their expectations realistic. They know that, within two years, the honeymoon period will probably be over. The euphoric love will die down, and the relationship will move into a new phase.
Although the media might tell you otherwise, this is actually a good thing. If we all walked around in a state of obsession, society would soon grind to a halt. Euphoric love is exhausting, and can even distract you from your work and other important relationships.
If the passion has gone, it doesn’t mean you are no longer compatible. Neither does it mean your partner no longer finds you attractive. However, you do need to make a choice: Will you abandon your relationship and look for a new source of euphoric love elsewhere, or will you stay and embrace the next part of your lives together?
What comes after euphoric love?
If you are to stay together, you need to reframe the problem. Instead of lamenting that your relationship has lost its initial spark, embrace the chance to move to the next level and develop long-lasting love based on true intimacy.
You start to realize that you are two different people. Contrary to your early expectations, you won’t agree on everything, and that’s OK. You can learn how to disagree and compromise, and you can love someone even when you don’t particularly appreciate their behaviors.
Your partner will frustrate you, and you’ll annoy them in return. That’s normal! The secret is to keep checking in with one another, communicate your needs, and make your relationship a top priority in your life.
Choose to love your partner
Love isn’t just a noun; it’s also a verb. Loving your partner is a conscious choice. Choosing to rededicate yourself to the relationship every day is the best way to let it grow. Spend time with your partner in meaningful hobbies and activities that develop you as individuals and as a couple. Every day, set aside a few minutes to talk. Share the most interesting parts of your day, and bring up any problems or worries you have at the earliest opportunity.
Set goals that will move you closer to the vision you’ve set for your life. Check in regularly to make sure you share the same vision. Supporting one another and working as a team fosters intimacy. This might not sound as exciting as euphoric love, but it’s actually more rewarding. Infatuation gives you a buzz, but there’s no substitute for a mutually satisfying relationship based on mutual appreciation and respect.
Euphoric love is an amazing experience, but it’s only the beginning of a meaningful relationship. Although there’s nothing wrong with reminiscing about your early days together, the healthiest approach is to look to the future.
About the author: Lia Huynh is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who provides Couples counseling in San Jose and Milpitas. She can help you work together to build a satisfying life together that meets your need for love and intimacy. Learn more about couples counseling with Lia Huynh here.