Have You Fallen Victim To The “3-Month Dating Rule”?

It’s when the texts dry up and the honeymoon phase ends.

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After an amazing first date, you hit it off with your Hinge match and become a duo practically overnight. You text 24/7, meet each other’s friends, spend weekends together — and you might even start talking about the future. This can go on for weeks, and it can feel like you’ve struck dating app gold until you reach the dreaded three-month mark.

According to a viral theory on TikTok called the “three-month rule,” this is the moment when many relationships combust and fall apart. The texts dry up, the hangouts stop, and you suddenly realize your new love isn’t going to last.

According to creator @annexmp — whose viral video on the topic has over 21 million views — there is something about the three-month mark to watch out for. If you can survive this make-or-break moment, she says there’s a good chance you’ll go on to have a happy, long-term relationship. But it so often doesn’t work out that way.

In her comments section, one person said, “The three-month rule is so accurate and I hate it,” while another wrote, “Bro, [my relationship] ended the week we hit three months even after he said [it] wouldn’t.” To the surprise of no one in the dating world, these comments have tens of thousands of likes.

Of course, dating someone for a few months before getting serious is plain old common sense. Not to mention, not every relationship is built to last. TikTok is jam-packed with slightly-obvious theories and dating advice, yet this one is so ubiquitous it really does make you wonder what’s going on.

Below, relationship experts explain why the viral three-month rule is so real, what causes it to happen, and how to get past it if you’re meant to.

The Rebranded Honeymoon Stage

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On TikTok, creators say the three-month rule often marks the beginning of the end of a relationship, and there are three possible reasons why. They say it’s when the infatuation stage ends, when you start to see your partner’s true colors, and when you’ll know for sure if your personalities and values align.

If you’re familiar with the happy, carefree honeymoon stage of a relationship, then this concept won’t seem all that surprising. According to Angelika Koch, a certified relationship and breakup expert with the dating app Taimi, most honeymoon phases typically last three to six months, and they end when the newness fades and your connection no longer feels as exciting as when you first met.

Instead of hot and steamy hookups and fun and flirty dates, this is when the slow monotony of real, everyday life starts to creep in. “Because of this, people who are looking for the ‘rush’ of a new relationship will leave to find their next high,” she tells Bustle, and just like that you get ghosted.

Why Three Months?

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On TikTok, creator @helena_xo22 said she knew she was getting closer to the three-month rule when her partner’s texts started to become dry and boring — sure enough, they parted ways soon after. In her comments section one person said, “Real behaviors will come out after three months, it’s crazy.”

For the folks you meet on Hinge, Tinder, and beyond who aren’t looking for a serious connection, they might sense that the honeymoon phase is ending and decide to bail before things get too serious or official.

This stage might also be when many people start struggling to hide their true selves. So many will crack and reveal they have a bad personality, or they’ll run out of energy to continue love-bombing you. It’s why many experts, including Koch, recommend dating someone for at least three to six months before becoming official.

“Three months is a great timeframe to allow you to see a rough outline of who the person is,” she says. “It helps you to see if they are someone who plays games, has red flags, or genuinely wants a relationship.”

How To Survive The Three-Month Rule

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While it can come as a shock when someone’s feelings suddenly shift after 12 long weeks, it might help to think of the three-month rule as a moment of clarity. If you’re looking for something solid and long-term, your partner’s change of heart will free you up to get back out there.

Under @annexmp’s viral video, one person said it best: “Nah, because if I’m still chasing someone after three months I’m quitting because I’m wasting my time if they don’t want me back.” And they’re so real for that.

If you’re the one losing interest at the three-month mark, the best thing you can do is be honest about it. Chat with the other person so they aren’t left wondering. You can also be upfront in the beginning about what you’re looking for, though many people on TikTok say this does little to make a person stay. If someone doesn’t want a long-term relationship, you can’t really change their mind, and that’s OK.

Beyond that, as long as you’re still having fun, you should feel free to continue dating well past the three-month mark, even if things feel undefined. “If you’re not sure about each other, give it some more time,” says Koch. “Sometimes it takes up to six months to see if this is the right person for you.”

To keep getting to know each other, she says to go out more often, plan fun little dates, and continue talking about what you want in a relationship. If you’re on the same wavelength you’ll sail past the three-month mark with ease.


Angelika Koch, certified relationship expert