Pixelated Love: Technology speeds up the shift from infatuation to comfort

In Columns, Features
The end of the honeymoon phase is inevitable in any relationship, but technology has shortened that phase for modern couples.
(Yunuen Bonaparte / Daily Titan)

Everyone knows about the “honeymoon phase.” It’s that period at the beginning of a relationship where everything a partner does is an exciting, glittering revelation. The way he sings to you is adorable. The sound of her laugh is endearing.

Fast-forward a year or so and you’re wondering when he’s going to realize he sounds like an eel choking on sawdust, or if there is any way that you can convince her to laugh a little bit less, or not ever.

Psychologists refer to the “butterflies-in-the-stomach” feeling that occurs at the beginning of relationships as “limerence.” The transition out of limerence and into a more comfortable stage has been problematic through the ages. The early stages of today’s relationships are, in many ways, similar to relationships of past generations: the dates are cute, the endorphins soar and the compliments flow.

But technology has added a whole new facet to the inevitable fading of the honeymoon phase. Texting alone has changed the game of how we interact in new relationships, just because of how pervasive it is. Before, each reunion was a special time to express mutual feelings and attraction; now, those declarations are almost constant and daily.

When two people have just started dating and are really into each other, it’s difficult not to indulge in one another as often as possible. But how does that affect the natural progression from limerence to a more companionate relationship?

I don’t think that every relationship can only last a certain length of time, but I do think that’s true of the honeymoon phase. By communicating affection constantly at the beginning of a relationship, passionate feelings run out of steam more quickly.

In the past, the beginning of a relationship was like slowly drinking a bottle of wine with your partner. You both feel pretty nice and, since you’re taking your time with the process, the buzz lasts for a good while before wearing off.

Today, getting into a relationship is more like taking a series of shots with your partner. You both feel really, really good for a short period of time, and then the high is over, and suddenly you’re both sitting there, sober.

Spending so much time talking at the beginning of a relationship means you run out of things to talk about more quickly. After all, it could only take one long texting session to learn their favorite movie, TV show, book, band, color and vacation destination.

But even if the millennial lifestyle has made the honeymoon phase shorter, who’s to say that is a bad thing? The honeymoon phase is inherently temporary. Maybe existing in a state of unrealistically heightened infatuation isn’t really a good thing anyway.

Eventually, every relationship will either progress to a more comfortable, less exciting level, or it will end. What’s so bad about being able to hang out in your pajamas and watch a movie at the end of a long day, because you are too tired for anything else?

Becoming more comfortable with your partner does not mean you don’t do anything fun or adventurous anymore. Usually it just means you do exactly what you want, because you are not afraid to tell them what that is.

Maybe millennials do text too much, or they’re too “plugged in.” But when you are crazy about someone, it’s only natural to want to talk to them all the time. It’s great to be able to find out, practically instantly, how they are doing, where you’re meeting them on Friday and what their favorite playground game was in elementary school.

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