9 “Bad" Relationship Habits That Are Actually OK To Adopt After The Honeymoon Phase
At some point in your relationship, you and your partner are going to make a few mistakes and develop a few bad habits. But don't sweat it too much. As long as these "bad" habits aren't super toxic or unhealthy, there's nothing wrong with having a few of them — especially after the honeymoon stage.
"In general, the honeymoon phase seems to last around 12 to 24 months," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. It's the first stage of the relationship, where everything feels very fun and exciting. You're blissfully in love, but still on shaky ground, as you've yet to truly establish trust and security.
Eventually, the honeymoon stage gives way to a deeper love; one that's much more comfortable, where it's OK to mess up. "For healthy couples, [this stage] means being more comfortable and trusting, which allows them to move into a more long-term, mature relationship," Bennett says. This is when you can really start building trust, defining boundaries, and truly getting to know each other.
You may not be in the heart-pounding stages of early love, but the next stage is often even better because you can truly be yourselves — even if that means occasionally messing up. Here are a few bad habits that are OK to adopt after the honeymoon stage, according to experts.
1. Being Slightly Selfish
During the honeymoon phase, you'll want to focus a lot of time and energy on your partner, as you begin to get the relationship off the ground. But once things are established, it's more than OK to start focusing on yourself again.
"In the honeymoon phase it is all about that other person but once comfort, loyalty, and trust set in, it's back to your old ways," Uma Alexandra Beepat, relationship coach and owner of Lotus Wellness Center, tells Bustle. "For some, that means putting the focus on themselves and thinking from their point of view."
And as long as you do so while also prioritizing your partner and the relationship (and vice versa) this can actually be a good thing. "Happiness comes from within," Beepat says. "So learning to honor and take care of your needs is a must and prevents unnecessary struggle with your love."
If you're arguing with each other from day one, it may not be a sign the relationship is meant to be, or that you have conflicting values that will never align. But if you're a year or two in and have started speaking your minds — sometimes to the point of arguing — that's a good thing.
"Fighting is rare in the honeymoon phase since both partners often go out of their way to defer to the other person," Bennett says. "However, fighting, if done correctly can actually be healthy. Accepting that you and your partner can love each other in spite of disagreements is a sign that you’re developing a strong, healthy relationship."
3. Putting In Too Much Effort
A relationship that requires a ton of effort — in the early days, and beyond — may not be one worth staying in. But don't be alarmed if you have to try a little bit harder, and go out of your way to make things work, once the honeymoon phase is over.
"Sometimes, depending on the relationship, couples do need to put in the extra time and effort into their relationship after the honeymoon phase," relationship expert Holly Zink, tells Bustle. "Putting in the effort may get in the way of hanging out with friends, but it’s OK if it doesn’t happen too often."
If you need to spend more time together, make it happen. If you need more dates, go ahead and schedule them. If it's all in the name of getting that spark back, then it's totally worth it.
4. Admitting You Don't Want To Do Something
While it's important to show up to major life events — like graduations, friends' weddings, and so on — it's fine to be honest with your partner if you don't want to do something. And by the time you exit the honeymoon stage, you should feel more than comfortable doing so.
"Rather than lie and benignly join your partner at a place you don't want to go, you [can] step up and announce your preference to stay at home or do something else with friends," dating and relationship coach Rosalind Sedacca, CLC, tells Bustle.
This might seem like a bad habit, especially if you just spent two years attached at the hip. But it's only natural for partners to need a little space at times, so don't be afraid to ask for it.
"Comfort and candor are important in a lasting relationship," Sedacca says. "Yes, the honeymoon is over, but now the real relationship can develop on honest, realistic terms."
5. Making Jokes At Each Other's Expense
While you're still putting in the work to establish a secure relationship, you might want to think twice before teasing each other too much. This is something lots of long-term couples have to earn the right to do, especially since it can take time to learn how to do it lovingly.
Teasing only works if "it's a mutually agreed upon tease," Sedacca says. When you're both in on the joke — and know that it's coming from a place of love — it can even bring you closer together.
6. Not Sleeping In The Same Bed
Some people think sleeping in separate beds is a bad habit, or a bad sign. But once you're comfortable in your relationship, this may very well end up being what you both want. And that's OK.
"Some people just don’t sleep well with others in the bed," Bennett says. "They need to stretch out or maybe they’re light sleepers. After the honeymoon phase, you realize that it’s OK to be unconventional. You can still be in love and not conform to alleged romantic norms. This could include sleeping in separate beds."
7. Not Impressing Each Other
In the early days of dating, you may have felt the pressure to "impress" your partner, whether that means putting on an extra nice outfit, or keeping a few secrets held back.
But nothing beats getting to the point in the relationship, where you can truly let it all fly. "After the honeymoon stage, both people tend to relax into the relationship more than they did when they first started dating," Katie Ziskind, licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. "This might mean [...] getting more relaxed with your partner." In every way, shape, and form.
8. Spending Time Apart
Being in a healthy relationship means not only feeling secure enough to spend some time apart, but to happily encourage each other to have your own individual lives, too.
And this is something that's much easier to do after the honeymoon phase. "At the beginning, we love spending time with our partner because it's new and exciting," registered clinical counselor Diana Sadat, MCP, RCC, tells Bustle. "However, as time goes on and we settle in that our partner is here to stay and we feel comfortable with what we have, spending time apart is actually really important both to you and to your relationship."
Whether it's an hour spent in separate rooms, an evening out doing your own thing, or a weekend away with friends, this "bad" habit can actually be a good one. As Sadat says, "Relationships need to have two people individually who are coming together rather than morphing into one person."
9. Venting To Each Other
Venting is often viewed as a bad habit, even though it's actually healthy to let off steam — especially to someone supportive, like your partner.
So don't be afraid to occasionally utilize their ear, after a particularly bad day. "It’s quite valuable in a relationship to be able to vent and share when you’re upset," organizational psychologist and coach Kira Nurieli, tells Bustle.
And this is true when it comes to venting about the relationship, too. "Bottling up your emotions and avoiding conflict at all cost can work against you, in the long run," Nurieli says. "It’s better to argue [and vent] — respectfully and mindfully — than to keep all of your grievances to yourself. If you need, turn to a mediator or professional therapist to help facilitate a particularly touchy conversation, if you’re not comfortable in a one-on-one negotiation with your partner."
Once the honeymoon phase is over, you may enter into a new one with your partner where it feels OK to make mistakes and develop a few "bad" habits like these. As long as they don't become toxic, these habits are all signs you're in a comfortable relationship, with a supportive partner.