Why is it that three months into a relationship (or whatever we’re calling it these days) feels like a turning point? That marker on your timeline always seems to hit faster than the length of a TikTok and brings with it a vibe of Is this serious? I think it’s getting serious. You don’t know how you got here, but you do know that it’s time to discuss where your situationship with the person you’re dating/talking to/seeing stands.
“You’re at the tail-end of the honeymoon period,” says Susan Winter, relationship expert and author. “You’re in the best place to talk about moving forward, because you’re still experiencing the highs of the relationship, and [you’ve] invested [enough] time. If you’ve been seeing each other for three months, there’s obviously something you like about each other.”
Ninety days is a reasonable amount of time to figure out the surface-level (and some deeper) things about someone. You should be able to decipher if they’re down to order in on a Friday night instead of raging at a club or if they’re as family-oriented as you are. You know, at the very least, that you get along and enjoy each other’s company.
This was true for Xavier P., 25, who became official with his boyfriend, Cameron*, after three months. “We agreed to be exclusive about a month into dating,” he says. “[By the three-month mark], we had tested the waters and were ready to take the plunge. We were confident about it since we had spent a good amount of time ‘researching.’ I knew [how well] we got along and that he was loyal.”
That’s why the three-month mark is a good time to ask yourself some questions. “It’s not just about what [the person you’re dating] want[s] to do, but also what you want. Before you even go to the other person, you have to sit down with yourself,” Winter says. She suggests considering the following:
- What’s my long-term goal?
- Is this person worth my time to explore a relationship with?
- Why am I dating in general?
- What am I looking to experience?
- What excites me?
- Am I learning about my sexuality?
- What is this person bringing into my life that is valuable?
These answers can help illuminate what it is you are looking for moving forward. Perhaps you want to experience intimacy on a deeper level or are excited about sharing your passion for food with another person — either way, this will aid in putting the puzzle pieces together.
Once you’re better clued into your own desires, you can assess how the other person meshes with those needs, says Winter. Start asking yourself how this person and this relationship affects you:
- What are the pluses of this person/relationship?
- What are the minuses of this person/relationship?
- Does this person improve my life?
- Am I happy with them?
- Is this relationship giving me joy?
- Will it continue to give me joy?
Much to think about. As you start to see the full picture, you’re bound to gain a sense of clarity as to how much weight each value holds and how it affects your next steps. Maybe that’s hitting the gas and driving full-speed into a relationship. Maybe that’s just hanging out and continuing to see what happens. Maybe it’s contingent on having further conversations about the person you’re dating’s POV on certain topics. No matter what, beep beep, it’s important to bring where you stand and where you are going up.
“If you spent three months with somebody and you don’t feel comfortable talking, then you already know the answer and just don’t want to hear it.”
“[People] are afraid to talk about something out of fear that they’re going to ruin [what they have] or fear that they’re going to discover what they want isn’t what their partner wants,” says Winter. “But if you spent three months with somebody and you don’t feel comfortable talking, then you already know the answer and just don’t want to hear it. These conversations are uncomfortable but you have to bite the bullet.”
To reassure yourself, it’s important to note that some of these discussions have, perhaps in passing, probably already happened at this point. Aka you’ve already started doing some of the work. Whether it was a chat over coffee about wanting five dogs or pillow talk about where you see yourself in a few years, you likely have an idea of how the person you’re dating’s goals, preferences, and values line up with your own.
And if there’s something that is consistently on your mind and on which you haven’t touched, feel it out by making statements about what you want. You need to tell your partner what you can, says Winter. Whether that’s “I don’t know what I want,” “I’m still exploring and figuring things out” or “I’m a monogamous type of person and I don’t like to share,” there’s no reason to feel ashamed of your preferences now or how those preferences may change over time.
Regardless of if you decide to move forward (or not), remember that if a person or relationship delights you, excites you, and challenges you, there is always more it can teach you about yourself, Winter says.
Amen. Whether you’re coming up on the three-month mark, still have a while to go, or just passed it, use these tools to answer the now what? that’s been dangling over your head. You feel lighter already, don’t you?
*Name has been changed to protect innocent daters everywhere.