Relationships are often challenging once the "honeymoon" phase ends. I've been seeing couples for over 25 years and often hear couples complain how they just want to "go back to how it was in the beginning..." Unfortunately, that is not really possible, as the initial stage of relationships, which we often term as infatuation or "falling in love," is designed to only last a season. It is a period of time where brain chemistry is elevated with high levels of norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine, which can create an experience of feeling high or intoxicated. This experience is clinically termed, "limerence."
In the stage of limerence, there is typically undeniable passion and obsession, excitement and euphoria for another person. This amazing experience can feel life-altering; however, it is actually never designed to last. Over time, the brain will always return to a baseline state and those consuming feelings will eventually subside. At this point, couples often begin fighting more and feeling less connected. Sex may become less "hot" and more routine. This is all very common in intimate relationships and it is important that couples learn how to move forward from there and build a strong foundation of intimacy and connection.
Why is limerence so consuming? It tends to be the initial period in a relationship where individuals feel very safe and deeply understood. This is a time when people take great risks with inner thoughts and emotions, opening up in ways that feel both rare and rewarding. One of the most fundamental wants and needs that people have is to feel completely seen, heard, and validated. Limerence is often the time when that experience happens. As a result, it will draw people together, creating a sense of closeness and intimacy. This is the time when people will look and easily find all the wonderful qualities their partner holds. However, this is also a time when people project qualities onto the new partner of everything they want them to be (even if it's not accurate), which then allows a person to lower their defenses and share very personal things early in a relationship.
When couples express wanting to return to that early blissful, romantic period, I try and help them understand that what they are clinging to was not something expected to last; rather, it brought them together and now they have the opportunity to decide if they'd like to move forward and create a foundation of commitment, love, and trust that will allow a much deeper level of connecting. Emotional safety is the key to being able to create deep intimacy. The most important tip I offer couples who are struggling in their relationship with not feeling close to their partner is to ask themself, "Is what I'm doing in this relationship (ie: reaction, behavior, conversation, etc), causing my partner to want to come closer to me or am pushing my partner away?" Every action has a reaction. Every choice has a consequence. Therefore, having an awareness to the answer to that question can radically change any relationship. It can be a great springboard for making new choices to enhance feelings of intimacy and safety.