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The 3-Month Dating Rule You Didn’t Know You Needed

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Nov 07, 2023

The 3-Month Dating Rule You Didn’t Know You Needed

The key to the 3-month dating rule that will help you make sure a relationship is right for you

No matter who you are or what types of relationships you’ve had, we can all agree that dating can be a wild ride. Whether you met someone through mutual friends or matched on HER, the early days of dating are full of excitement, anxiety, and many questions. 

Once you’ve been dating someone for 3 months, it can feel either like the best thing in the world or like you have no idea what you are doing. Most of the time, a relationship feels like both.

Three months is usually the time when you really start getting to know the other person—hanging out on a regular basis, learning about their flaws, and ultimately deciding if the connection has legs to go the distance. The early days of dating someone new can be full of adrenaline, butterflies, and (hopefully) bomb sex. But the 3-month mark is usually when you can really start to see someone in their entirety—the good, the bad, and the completely miscommunicated. 

These days, the internet can be full of bad dating advice, therapy infographics, and made-up relationship rules that feel more heteronormative than anything else. In your online hunt for the best dating advice, you’ve probably heard of the “three-month rule.”  Now, hear me out on this one.

We are going to break down the key to the 3-month dating rule, including the end of the honeymoon phase, defining your relationship, and significant dating milestones for LGBTQIA+ people to celebrate.

The 3-month dating rule, explained 

The three-month rule has taken over TikTok as a failsafe test to tell if a relationship will work out or not. The rule is pretty straightforward. It goes like this: three months should be the trial period every relationship should go through to decide whether or not that person is meant for you. While it’s easy to fall in love (or in lust) in the early stages of seeing someone new, once you’ve been dating for three months, most people can’t fake it anymore. 

Dating someone for three months means it’s make or break time. Do you cut ties before either of you gets hurt, or is it time to commit and take your relationship to the next level? The youth of today swear by the 90-day probation period for any potential partners. According to this logic, after 3 months, it’s clear whether or not someone actually likes you or whether they were just dating you out of loneliness, boredom, or to feel better about themselves. 

So, should we all be putting our romantic prospects on a 90-day trial period like we are the CEO girlboss of our own hearts? The truth is that there is no exact timeline for love. Some people might fall head over heels in love right away, whereas other relationships might take a while to progress due to a number of factors.


what do you know about the 3 month rule?

♬ original sound – Hi, Hello it’s Anne ❤️
Source: TikTok

The end of the honeymoon phase

We’ve all been in the honeymoon phase before. You know that precious little slice of time when you are drunk in love, you feel invincible, and you can’t believe how you managed to bag the most flawless, perfect human being ever to grace God’s gay green earth? But then, seemingly out of nowhere, something that person does something that kind of annoys you. Oh, right—that part. All of a sudden, the expiration date of the honeymoon phase kicks in and brings you crashing back down to planet Earth. 

The slow fading of the honeymoon phase doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t like the other person anymore, but it does signify a new stage of your relationship. You might start bickering or arguing more on a day-to-day basis. You also might start to get annoyed by their little quirks that you used to find charming or simply didn’t notice before. Or maybe you will start to butt heads or disagree on global politics or how you handled a social situation with mutual friends.

“When the honeymoon phase dies down, you and your partner likely become more of your authentic ‘day-to-day’ selves and recognize the flaws in one another.”

Leanna Stockard, LMFT at LifeStance Health

“During this time, we need to assess how we are feeling and make the decision if we can continue on in our relationship with our partner—flaws and all.”

Leanna Stockard, LMFT at LifeStance Health

Does the honeymoon phase always end after 3 months?

We all know how easy it is to be blinded by the best parts of a person early on. But the chances are, after 3 months, the rose-tinted glasses come off, and it becomes easier to see someone clearly for who they are. I’m a big believer that the honeymoon phase doesn’t have to die, like, ever. 

Sure, you might not be doing it every day like rabbits anymore, and maybe the fact that they drool or part in their sleep isn’t the sexiest thing in the world, but sometimes that’s just what being in a deep relationship with each other means. 

We get to know someone for exactly who they are, let go of our fantasies and projections, and strengthen the emotional bond we’ve formed. Ideally, the fading of a honeymoon phase should come with a deepening of a relationship, not the ending of it. You should be learning new things about each other and figuring out ways to move forward and communicate about your differences. Conflict and disagreement don’t have to be a bad thing as long as it’s paired with mutual respect and understanding.

It’s normal to start getting on each other’s nerves, but if someone starts to show less interest or teases you a little too much for who you are, these might be signs that they aren’t the person for you. None of us are perfect, but if you’ve been dating someone for 3 months, you should be falling more in love with them, not less. 

Defining the relationship 

Research shows that 68% of people who date have had a relationship end at the 3-month. In an ideal world, we would develop feelings for each other on the same timeline, at the same pace, and in a completely reciprocal way. Unfortunately, that’s not how every romantic connection works out. 

Three months is usually around the time when the ‘feelings gap’ sets in. The feelings gap is the difference in the amount of time it takes for each person to decide whether or not a potential match is worthy of commitment. The feelings gap can be caused by one person falling in love faster or the other not being ready to commit to a relationship just yet. 

If you’ve hit the 3-month mark of dating someone and you haven’t defined your relationship yet, now might be a good time to start that conversation. Relationship psychologist Claire Stott says that this is the time when you’re perfectly entitled to get some answers on the status of your connection. 

“I would say it’s socially acceptable to talk about exclusivity after a couple of months. You might do it before, maybe because the other person is totally on the same page, but [it’s okay to] give it a couple of months.” 


Does dating someone for 3 months mean that things are serious?

Everyone has their own definition of what being in a serious relationship means. By this point, you are hopefully imagining what the future state of your relationship together might look like. It’s likely that after three months, you’ve started to emotionally open up and start to trust someone, which might leave you feeling vulnerable. 

Maybe you’ve started experiencing doubt or feeling anxious or panicky about the strength or longevity of your connection. If this sums up where you are at right now, don’t worry! It’s completely normal if you start freaking out a bit over the idea of commitment at the 3-month mark, even if you really like someone.

Whether you are looking for a primary or a secondary partner, now is probably a good time to put a label on what you both mean to each other. Asking someone to be your girlfriend, boyfriend, theyfriend, or partner can be an exciting dating milestone. It’s also okay if you both want to be in a situationship or agree to keep things casual! Figure out what labels feel good for both of you and don’t be afraid to ask for clarity and make it official.

How often should you see someone you’ve been dating for 3 months? While it depends on your relationship and setup, by the three-month mark, you should be seeing each other pretty regularly. If someone is making up excuses not to see you or the time you spend together has decreased significantly, this might be a sign that the relationship is fizzling out.

If you notice that the person you are dating is also avoiding talking about your relationship or putting a label on things, that might be a sign that they are having second thoughts. This can be a good time to state your expectations for your relationship and set boundaries when necessary.  

You don’t want to throw yourself head over heels into a relationship if there isn’t a stable base to build from.

What questions to ask after dating for 3 months?

If you haven’t already talked about the future, now might be a good time to get on the same page about what you are looking for from a relationship. Three months in is a good time to start asking each other questions about exclusivity, career goals, and family planning. 

Do you have dreams of traveling the world with a partner? Do you want kids? Would you want to carry it? Are you willing to move somewhere new, or do you have strong ties to where you currently live now? What is your attachment style? What is your take on extraterrestrial existence?

The 3-month mark is also a great time to have conversations about your relationship structure, exclusivity, and whether or not you are still dating other people. Don’t be afraid to be explicit about what you are looking for—no matter if that’s monogamy, ethical non-monogamy, or polyamory. It can be hard to talk about some of these things, especially if you are worried about scaring someone off or saying the wrong thing. But it’s better to know what

When my partner and I first got together, we had both been burned by polyamorous dynamics in our past relationships. I had recently gotten out of a five-year-long partnership and was pretty focused on maintaining my independence, even though I was falling in love again. We agreed that while we both value non-monogamy as a long-term goal for our relationship, we wanted to spend our first year solely focusing on each other in a monogamous set-up.

It was scary to have the conversations at first but ultimately relieving to get clarity on what we both wanted. Life is short, and time is precious! The older you get, the less interested you are in game playing or uncertainty. You can let a connection develop organically while also getting clarity about what you both want from a relationship, both now and in the future.

Two glasses of wine

Dating milestones for LGBTQIA+ relationships

Dating for three months is no easy feat, so give yourself some props if you’ve made it this far. Some big dating milestones might happen leading up to (and after) the 3-month mark to be on the lookout for. These things can be especially exciting for LGBTQIA+ couples, as many of us might not have been able to celebrate these things in our younger years. 

You can use the checklist below or make up your own list of dating milestones of things that are important to you. I also highly recommend making a bucket list of the things you want to do in the first year of dating each other, including cute date ideas that you come up with. This can be a fun thing to reference as your relationship progresses. Remember that every relationship has its own timeline and trajectory, and you get to decide what that looks like for you. 

Here is a list of some fun gay dating milestones to keep track of:

  • Soft-launching your boo in your Instagram stories
  • Posting about each other on your finstas
  • Making a grid post about your love on main
  • Saying the L word
  • Watching The L Word
  • Getting in your first real fight 
  • Make-up sex
  • Telling your therapist about them 
  • Meeting their chosen family or their family of origin 
  • Spending time with each other’s friends 
  • Double dates!
  • Running into each other’s exes at the local queer night (yay, community!)
  • Getting tested for STIs together (yay, safe sex!)
  • Going to your first Pride together as a couple
  • Taking a trip somewhere or traveling together
  • Getting matching or tastefully complimenting tattoos 
  • Mutual masturbation
  • Adopting a rescue pet together

Make sure to celebrate each step of your dating journey, no matter where you are at. If there is one thing lesbians love the most, it’s anniversaries. Grab some flowers and cheap wine from your local Trader Joe’s, and celebrate your 3-month anniversary in style!

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Dusty Brandt Howard is a writer & a fighter. He is a trans masculine cultural narrator who builds worlds with words. You can follow his thirst traps on Instagram, his writing on Substack, or find him at your local queer bar in northeast LA.

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