by Vianca Masucci
Today, for the first time in my relationship, I had a barely controllable urge to tell my lover to shut the fuck up. Maybe it was because he was explaining the tragic history of grunge music in America for the 19249043th time since we starting dating. Or, maybe it was because I remembered that he hides his tampons, previously a communal item, so that I can’t ‘use them all up’. (Doesn’t he understand?? I can’t help it if I’ve got a heavy flow and a wide-set vagina.)
I had been expecting this. Though I love my partner tenderly (and roughly when he begs for it), every relationship eventually transitions out of the honeymoon phase. This is a natural progression in a relationship with clear pros and cons. Con: you will never fully recapture that all-consuming passion for your lover again. Pro: you can finally stop pretending that you like your bae’s music. #byestringcheeseincident
This switch from being Drunk in Love to being Hungover in Love is a significant development in any romantic relationship because it changes interactions between partners greatly. Once the scorching eagerness that filtered your perspective at the beginning of the relationship is cooled by a petty argument about whether to get fried or steamed dumplings and a few misfired farts in your partner’s presence, you will be able to see your partner for who they really are. And, much like selfies, they are not going to look as good without a filter.
Pitfalls during this transition from honeymooning to “just being” can ruin a relationship. But, with a bit of introspection and patience, a relationship can overcome this stage of evolution, damage-free. Here are some ways to avoid disaster:
Notice the Signs
If you’re progressively bored or annoyed with your partner, don’t immediately conclude that your relationship is failing. During the honeymoon phase, there is a tendency to ignore or dismiss characteristics in your partner that annoy you. Over time, these unresolved annoyances add up and may generate some rightful exasperation. Don’t allow this stark change in perception to mislead you to perceive nonexistent problems. When you’ve perceived your partner as Beyonce for so long, realizing that they are actually Michelle may seem like a travesty. A perceived travesty that will quickly collapse once you realize that Michelle is incredible in her own respect and her song “Break the Dawn” becomes your new jam.
Take the Opportunity to Set Boundaries
More than anything else, it is important to understand the importance of this transition. This stage of the relationship will set the tone for future your interactions with your partner and result in the clarification of relationship boundaries. Accordingly, you should take the opportunity to fortify your communication pattern with your lover. Make a list for yourself of what your needs in the relationship are and what boundaries are important for your partner to maintain. Talk to your partner about these upfront, unprompted, instead of as a reaction to their trespassing. Invite them to do the same. This will set a standard of straightforward, honest communication and help avoid building tension.
Discover Why You’re Upset
Instead of mourning the loss of your chachi-loves-chachi fantasy life, do some introspective reflecting to understand what you feel has changed. What exactly is it about your partner’s behavior that irks you? What things make you think, ‘they are not the person that I thought they were’? Bounce these thoughts off of a friend to gain further perspective.
Some of these feelings, you’ll find, arise from the high expectations that you have established during the honeymoon phase that are unrealistic. They will be resolved as you learn to create new standards for your partner. New standards will slowly be established over time as your relationship continues to settle into a rhythm beyond the wild thrashing of the honeymoon phase. Be patient.
For negative feelings that are not linked to honeymoon expectations, take note of the circumstances that incite these feelings. Once you understand where the feelings are grounded, you can talk with your partner about these feelings in context. Accusing your partner of making you feel ‘some typa way’ without explaining how or why will not lead to productive resolution.
Resolution is not always easy, even if you do have these “feelings cliffs notes”.
A natural byproduct of open conversations is conflict—especially the first time you have a dialogue about issues with your relationship. Embrace it and reassure your partner that it is normal. Disagreement does not necessarily mean incompatibility. Usually, conflict is a just a result of differing perspectives interacting. Because you and your partner largely avoided conflict during your honeymoon phase, there will be a lot of issues to hash out during the transition.
Know When to Call It
There are a million permutations of the ‘good relationship’. But, fundamentally, a healthy relationship is made up of mutual respect, trust, common interests, mutual fulfillment and safety. If any of these things are missing, you are not in the right relationship. So, ask yourself:
Are you not being treated the way you should be?
Are there unmet needs within your relationship that your partner is unwilling or unable to fulfill?
Are there any perceivable character flaws in your partner that indicate that they will be unreliable?
Do you and your partner have any glaring moral differences?
Do you feel unsafe (physically, emotionally, spiritually, and/or politically) in your relationship?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, it is imperative that you consider the benefits of discontinuing your relationship. I understand how hard it is to date as a radical QPoC in this sea of basic tuna. But, some struggle is worth finding someone that will make you happy in the long term. And you deserve happiness.
Sometimes, happiness requires a little work. So, don’t be intimidated by the transition from honeymoon to “just being” with your honey, moon after moon. Though you lose some of the excitement, you gain feelings of comfort and deep intimacy that far supersede the fervor of excitement. That is, of course, after you learn to buy extra tampons and redirect your partner’s music fanaticism to the appropriate blogspace.
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Hailing from Newark, New Jersey, Vianca Masucci is a health advocate working to eliminate health disparities in underserved populations. Her voice is influenced by her experiences navigating this world as a queer, Afro-Latina with a thousand-year-old soul and an insatiable appetite for social justice. Her Meyers-Briggs personality type is IDGAF.