The 3-Month Rule
First thing this morning I got a text from one of my friends, the kind I get all too often. “Met my future husband last night!” My response was my standard one: “Get back to me in three months.” If I’ve learned one valuable thing from the dating whirligig I’ve been on for the last six years (give or take six months here or there), it’s that you must wait at least three months before getting excited about the long-term possibilities of a new person. I don’t want to sound cynical or jaded. I totally believe in love for myself and my friends, but what I believe in more is that it takes a really long time to get to know someone and it’s a complicated process. Whirlwind romances were all the rage for me in 1997, but I’m older and wiser now … and no longer wear red velvet leopard-print pants. The first three months of knowing someone is a time of illusions. Instead of seeing the person for who they really are, you see them for who you want them to be. Your object of desire is laden with fantasies and projections. I think it takes about three months to strip away the layers and start to see this person for who they really are.
I can’t even count the number of times that I or a friend started dating someone and days or even weeks later found out there was something seriously screwed up about him. “Oh, you’ve never been in love and you’re 35?” “Oh, you just got out of a 10-year relationship last week?” “Oh, you don’t ever want to have children?” “Oh, you’re mentally unstable?” The more and less obvious discoveries about another are made in that three-month period. That’s stuff you need to know before you move forward.
Also, I think three months gives you enough time to see if the new person in your life is consistent. Do they call when they say they’re going to? Do they cancel dates? Do they even have time for dates? Do they want to hang out once a week or six times a week and does that mesh with what you want? How do they treat you after a month? Any major disagreements on fundamental things? How do they behave in different situations? The compatibility check list is endless. You need those three months to gather the data you need to decide if you want this person in your life for the next three months.
With all the disappointments that can come along with dating, I say why bother getting yourself in a tizzy about someone who could be a Russian spy? That’s why I always say to myself, to my friends, and to you, single people, check in after three months and tell me how great the new person you’re dating is. If everything is still coming up roses, maybe I’ll dance a jig with you. But it might take me six months to a year before I’m buying this “my future husband” business.