Why Having A Three Month Rule For Relationships Is A Good Thing, Actually

With dating apps, we can meet people with lightning speed or discard them just as fast. And vice versa. The hyper-fast nature of technology can mask interpersonal nuances and how long it takes to really form relationships. This makes it all the more surprising that TikTok of all places, home of fast-moving trends and a fair amount of misinformation, has provided a welcoming push for the three-month rule.

The generally agreed-upon definition of the three-month rule is that during the first 90 days of a new relationship, both of you examine if it's really working well enough to move forward into a deeper commitment. If there are relationship issues that signal it just isn't going to work, you might choose to cut your losses and move on. On @taytalkspod's TikTok channel, she explains, "They can't fake it for three months... give it 'til month three. If he still is consistently texting you, if he still is consistently giving you boyfriend energy, then y'all are probably in it for the long haul."

Like a probationary period in the first several weeks of a new job, the three-month rule provides a loose structure for people to evaluate what's working and what's not so they can make clearer decisions. This seems like a smart alternative to mindlessly following your hormones and then getting surprised by your date's true nature later on.

What's involved with the three-month rule?

Seek the balance between being fully in the moment with your date while also assessing each other. You'll look at their lifestyle and habits, emotional intelligence, capacity for good communication, what they like or don't like, and how they behave with you and other people. You're also looking for deal-breakers or red flags, such as the relationship not progressing, your partner not bringing out the best in you, or recognizing that your values are very different.

Three months is a pretty generous chunk of time, but it's only a guideline. If you figure out after a solid month together that you're totally incompatible, or you recognize your partner is awesome but you're just not invested in the relationship, there's no reason to tough it out for an additional two months.

As far as physical intimacy goes, some people choose to leave sex out of the probation period to keep the focus on character, maturity, and emotional compatibility. That doesn't work for everyone though, and it could be vital for some to also test sexual compatibility — the choice is up to you.

How the three-month rule can help you

We recommend you consider giving the three-month rule a try. Sometimes, we may be able to spot — and fall for — someone's potential instead of seeing how they handle themselves and the details of their life right now. The three-month rule is a way to take off the blinders and stop over-idealizing someone in the early stages of a relationship — the period when everyone's understandably on their best behavior.

But this is also a powerful way for you to deepen your knowledge about yourself. You can sharpen your own definition of what's important to you in a relationship, including distinguishing between the attributes you want (6'2", green eyes) and what your soul needs (someone consistently kind and fully present). The three-month rule doesn't have to be old-fashioned either. But if you do keep sex on the back burner and make it successfully through probation, it's likely you'll feel a lot more ease and comfort when you do get intimate — and then discover a whole new level to the relationship.

You'll learn whether this person is partner material or more of a fling. It's a great way to test out boundaries with someone too, to stand your ground about a value that's important to you and see whether they respect it or not. The truth is, getting to know someone intimately can take years, but for practical romantics, this is a solid early step toward commitment.