“Is it serious?” These three little words can make anyone in a new relationship take a (serious) pause. Many of us were taught that romantic relationships should be light and easy — when you’re with the right person, you just know. Yet, it’s common and normal to feel anxiety and fear as you start to get more serious with your partner. You want to be sure you’re in a healthy relationship and not wasting your time. Enter the social-media popularized 3-Month Dating Rule

After dating for about three months, the honeymoon phase subsides, and you and your partner begin to talk about exclusivity and future plans. And after three months of dating, you and your partner are likely to be your more authentic selves around each other. The three-month mark is a great time to assess how you’re feeling about your relationship and if you want to take it to the next level.

Need help making the three-month dating rule work for you? The following five questions can help you find clarity.

How have they discussed their past with you? 

Past relationship history, family experiences, and life events can all shape a person, impacting their current (and future) relationships. Past experiences can include risks they’ve taken, a fear they’ve overcome, or a moment they’re proud of. Sharing childhood experiences teaches you a lot about each other. Asking your significant other to describe themselves as a kid can give you a better understanding of their life and personality.

You don’t have to know every little detail about your partner’s past to become more familiar with the way they’ve learned to process it. [odd] It’s a great sign if your partner is open, reflective, and interested in sharing what they’ve been through and learned along the way. Resilience is a beautiful quality to share in a serious relationship.

Do your visions for the future align? 

Imagine you’re embarking on a long journey with your partner. You want to be sure you’re both headed to the same place with the same horizon lines. This alignment is no different than thinking about your future together. You want to make sure your feelings align on things like marriage, kids, pets, travel, etc. 

But talking about the future can also include sharing your dreams and ambitions. 

  • Are you excited to support your partner’s dreams? 
  • Are they excited to support your dreams? 
  • What kind of life do they want to have, and how committed are they to building it? 
  • How strongly do they feel about these things, and what, if anything, would change their mind? 

You don’t have to be identical in every element to be compatible and successful long term, but answering these questions will help you to flesh out whether you’re both walking towards the same destination. 

What side of you do they bring out? 

Healthy relationships include plenty of compromises and reimagining your horizon line together. You shouldn’t feel trapped by the things you used to want. Your relationship and partner should allow you space to grow and explore many different sides and parts of you. After a few months of dating, it’s good to reflect on what your significant other brings out in you. 

Can you be your authentic self around your partner —silly and goofy, academic and a little nerdy, relaxed and reserved, or openly passionate about the things that are important to you? Does your partner bring out a more open, generous, curious part of you? Or do you notice them pulling you back into old or even new negative patterns, routines, or experiences?

What have you learned about them that you’ve liked or disliked? 

As you process all the information you’re gathering, remember to stay true to yourself and your dating goals. It’s more than okay to say goodbye to a date if they don’t match what you’re looking for. Exploring likes and dislikes will help you balanced. It’s good to carve out equal space for the qualities you are the most attracted to and qualities that give you reason to doubt the potential of your connection. 

Remember to stay curious about your significant other and be generous with your assessment. You’re just getting to know your partner and all of their layers — everyone is human and perfectly imperfect. 

What do you admire about them? 

According to the Gottman Institute, admiration is essential to making love last. When you pass the infatuation and crush phase of a new relationship, fondness and admiration persist. You can deepen your connection by communicating these traits with your partner. Don’t be afraid to share with your significant other how you appreciate them with words like, “I really admire how passionate you are about your career. It inspires me.” or “You have made me feel so comfortable opening up around you, I think that’s an amazing skill.”

Are you struggling to name things that you admire about your date? That could be a sign that your conversations need to continue to deepen before getting more serious, or you may not be compatible in some essential ways. It’s okay if you’re not ready to make a call on that yet. Checking in regularly to ask yourself if your date has what you’re looking for in a long-term partner helps you continue dating consciously and prioritize your needs in a future relationship.

Still unsure if you’re ready to get serious with your partner? 

Relationships aren’t easy, but if you’re feeling a significant amount of distress about your relationship, there may be some toxic cycles keeping you stuck in your current relationship. We’d love to be a resource for you as you unpack where your relationship anxiety is coming from. If you’re interested in individual therapy, we have availability for in-person sessions at our Charlotte, NC office or virtually for residents of NC and SC.  

Dating with thoughtfulness and intentionality is integral to easing anxiety and helping you enjoy your relationship. If you’re beginning to date, check out some of our resources about online dating, conscious dating, and post-date check-ins.

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