Everyone knows about the key milestones in a relationship.
The moment when you call each other ‘girlfriend/ boyfriend’, the moment one of you first says ‘I love you’ (usually followed by awkward ‘thank-you’), and of course the haunting 1 year milestone when you either move in, find a ring in your sorbet or move on.
But few people talk about the lesser hurdles.. especially the dreaded 3 month marker. Or as I nicknamed it ‘dumper week’.
Most people ignore the 3 month mark since on the approach, say 2 & 1/2 months, you’re typically still deep in the ‘crazy sex/bottle of wine Tuesdays’ mode and the idea of breaking up is something in the far off distance, if at all. But literally 1 week later you can look at someone across the sheets and suddenly notice that you hate the way they breathe. Notice that they say really misogynistic things or that the way they pronounce your name pisses you off and suddenly its over. Instantly.Without any precursor you can’t believe you’ve spent the last 11 weeks with this numbskull and you’re off like a shot. Or they are.
I started to notice the 3 month hurdle back in my 30s when I realized I was settling into a 3 mini relationships a year. Each one lasting 10 or 11 weeks without fail, with a few weeks in-between. In fact, from the age of 36 to 39, I didn’t make it to 12 weeks a single time. And that included two discussions about rings and one about kids (hey, I was drunk). I think the shortest was 7 weeks, but the majority were just under 3 months and largely it was me doing the bolting.
What was it about the 3 month milestone that seemed to create such a roadblock for a new relationship?
I was starting to think that I was cursed or that there was something in my personality that I could hold in for only so long.. and apparently 3 months was the moment at which I breathed out. Was it the thrill of attention that overshadowed my ‘boyfriend’s personality and 3 months was the point at which the thrill started to wane and his affection for UFC emerged? Or was it simply that at three months you’ve exhausted the delight in shared interests and you’re forced to look outside of each other’s history for conversation? Finding that this person also has a sister and loves The National isn’t enough of a truss to support an evening’s entertainment and as you look forward, you realize that you’re facing a potential lifetime of conversations about the Broncos. Um.. no.
Whatever the reason, this cut off remains true whether its me or my mate doing the running. My last relationship – as different and special as it seemed, pretty much stayed true to form with a cut off at 12 weeks and 2 days. I guess the 2 extra days was due to him living out of state.
Despite conversations about weddings (from him), meeting the parents (from him) and ring sizing (his idea), he still woke up after 3 months and decided that I wasn’t the person he wanted to talk agri-politics with for the rest of his life. (thank GOD in hindsight). And yes, it hurts to go from 100mph to a total change of heart, but I do get it. I guess in our twenties it just took longer to ‘wake up’ because we were drunk so much of the time and we were willing to overlook total incompatibility for some hot sex. On our 40s, yes we’re wiser and we’re getting relentlessly efficient at moving on when its not right.
My girlfriend Hope is currently heading towards her own 3 month milestone and I hope, oh so much, that she’s not similarly cursed. I want so bad for her to find someone who wants to discuss life’s quirks and family with, who makes her laugh and find her as amazing as I do.. and that she, similarly, doesn’t wake up to a troll next month. But if it falls at this first, critical hurdle, I know we’ll both still be lining up with hope for the next race.