Is the Three-Month Rule a Real Thing?

What is the three-month rule in a relationship?
on April 12, 2024
Read time: 10 mins
by Moraya Seeger DeGeare

In so many different walks of life, three tends to be the magic number. 

You get three wishes, three ghosts of Christmas past, three musketeers! But does that mean the three-month rule is really the right approach to dating? 

This dating trend has taken social media by storm, with eons of people swearing by this relationship rule. While it might take a lifetime to truly know someone, this trend explicitly warns against diving into a new relationship before the three-month time period has elapsed. 

If you’ve ever asked yourself the question of ‘how soon is too soon to commit’ or if you’re wondering what’s the point you should get back out there after a break-up, this one is for you! 

What is the three-month rule? 

While one version of the three-month rule governs the beginning of a new relationship, the other dictates how you should act at the end of one!

Both of these rules have assigned a specific amount of time to both the falling in love and the falling out of love process. Consider it a probation period, and if you follow the rules, you should be more equipped to create a healthy relationship. 

What is the 3-month rule in dating?

When you first start dating someone new, it’s easy to get swept away by thoughts of love, lust, and of course, that surge of feel-good hormones. 

When you get swept away by the early throes of love, it’s easy to find yourself walking into the sunset with this person — despite the fact that you really don’t know them that well. According to the viral trend that has taken TikTok and social media by storm in recent months, you shouldn’t give in to these honeymoon phase urges right away. Instead, the three-month rule advises all new couples to wait at least three months before committing to a relationship. 

“You don’t want to confuse intensity and lust for true intimacy and deep connection. To your body, it might feel the same at the start,” says Moraya Seeger DeGeare, a licensed marriage and family therapist and In-House Expert at Paired.

While that may feel like a century in the world of new dating, this time is designed to allow you to truly test your compatibility, and to give you enough time to see if your new love really is the right fit for you. By giving yourself enough time to assess, you will hopefully be more capable of establishing a lasting relationship — rather than regretting falling head over heels for someone too quickly! 

What is the 3-month rule after a breakup?

Another version of the 3-month rule applies to the end of the relationship. After you break up with someone, how long should you let yourself heal before you start pursuing your next potential partner? 

According to this rule, you should wait until at least the three-month mark before you step back out into the dating landscape. This allows you to properly reflect on your past relationship and gives you time to heal before moving forward. 

This infamous question of healing inspires much debate and is often considered a gendered issue in the world of romantic relationships. Generally speaking, women usually follow the 3-month rule, giving themselves time to heal (and cry it all out!) before even considering someone new, while men are usually quicker to jump right back into it. 

On the reverse, men then usually start to feel the real brunt of the break up at the 3-month mark, and might even want their partner back — even though they’re usually healed by this point! 

Is the 3-month rule accurate?

In theory, the 3-month rule is pretty sound dating advice — whether for the beginning or the end of a relationship. 

For the 3-month dating rule, it’s like giving this new person a trial period before you progress things to the next level. While this may seem strange, allowing yourself 3 months of dating means you can really get to know someone before making that commitment. 

While you don’t need to set an exact stopwatch on your first date, it’s important to enjoy these early stages of a new relationship, but not get totally swept away by all that dopamine! This provides a very practical approach for those in the dating world, allowing you to take note of any quirks or red flags before they have the chance to hurt you. 

When you reach the three-month mark, you should ideally feel certain about whether or not you want to move to the next stage with someone. If you don’t feel comfortable moving forward, it might be time to have that dreaded ‘what are we?’ talk — with a clear answer hopefully presenting itself without too much thought. 

How does the three-month rule impact the healing process after a breakup?

The accuracy of the three-month rule for the end of the relationship is admittedly more malleable, as it shouldn’t suggest that you’re magically healed after just three months. 

Every relationship is different, and so is every break-up. 

If you wake up on the eve of the third month after your break-up, and you don’t feel any better — that’s totally okay! Everyone’s healing differs depending on the circumstances of the break-up, your own attachment style, as well as a million other factors. 

You should allow yourself all the time that you need to heal, with your well-being taking center stage. At the end of the day, your quest for the right person isn’t going to be a smooth ride, and no approach to the dating world is perfect! 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it okay to start a new relationship three months after breaking up with someone else?

    As any relationship expert will tell you, this is a question that only you can answer! If you feel like you’ve healed from your previous relationship, and are willing to commit to someone else within this timeframe, then that choice is yours. However, if you don’t think you’re really over someone, it’s unfair to move forward with someone else — as their feelings are on the line too.
  • Why do some people follow a three-month waiting period after a breakup?

    Everyone likes to deal with break-ups in different ways! Some people prefer to give themselves the time to heal fully before going back into the dating landscape — while others prefer to dive in head first. The three-month rule can be a helpful guide, but only you can know when you’re ready to move forward.
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