The 3-month rule: decency or deceit?
Say you break up with someone, regardless of the actual time you spent together. Be it a year or three, six months or two, you find yourself suddenly or not-so-suddenly single again. A few weeks later, you see your ex on social media with his arm around another or her hand in someone else’s—wait, what? Isn’t there a 3-month rule to follow here?
Then you start to think you’re losing. You’re losing because you aren’t dating yet, because you haven’t gotten over the relationship yet or because you have yet to even try to get yourself out there again. You’ve been trying to heal, for Christ’s sake. Why don’t people just follow the rules? How could they be ready start dating again? Why aren't you?
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The 3-month rule
What the post-breakup 3-month rule basically means is that all parties previously linked must wait three months before dating again. The reason for this societal dictation is to give the people involved a breather, some lead time, maybe a little room for forgiveness.
A little snag
While we might understand the reason for the 3-month rule, it has no scientific basis whatsoever. Everyone moves on at different times; some people even start to move on while the relationship is still technically in play. Others feel differently at different capacities and there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to loving (and unloving). And anyway, in the months we've spent in quarantine, a week can sometimes seem like five.
The 3-month rule is a dictation of society based on what it has deemed acceptable and decent. It’s a rule plenty of people expect, but only when they’re the ones not yet successfully on the rebound.
So how do you gauge it?
It’s immature AF, but—if it were up to us—we’d choose to move on first. We don’t want to be the one pinning, the one crying or the one still unhappy because someone we thought would be in our lives for life no longer is. No one wants to be the one messaging first, asking to meet up and wondering if the other still has the slightest interest in them. We'd all rather be the one to say, “No, I can't see you today because ~insert excuse here~.” No one wants to “lose.” No one likes the thought of themselves revisiting old photos and videos, and messages.
I've gone through breakups and I've seen breakups happen. I know what it's like to be deep in the aftermath of healthy and not-so-healthy separations, either telling the former significant other that he'll find someone better than me or helplessly reaching out on the chance that my name on his phone might spark a reminder that says, “Hey, don't you remember what it was like when you loved me? Wasn't it a good time? It was good and better than now, isn't it?”
But I've learned that you can't rush these things. Some of us prefer a clean break, some of us prefer to let go slowly. And then there are some of us that willing go through the excruciating journey of turning an ex into a friend (because we still care, because we still love them, because we just want them to stay in our lives in any way they will allow us). I've seen friends reach out to their exes, both in person and online, just to be able to hold them and talk to them again. There are people that offer a hook up just to have that same comfort again.
No method of getting over someone is BS; it's one of those “to each their own” situations.
Does the 3-month rule really even matter?
So, really, there is no timeline to moving on; it isn’t some competition you can fake with enhancement drugs (AKA a hot new revenge bod) or practice (AKA a slew of hot new rebounds). And while these things—chatting up new people, getting on any and all dating apps, getting on multiple Zoom dates in one night—might help, you’ll never be a winner if you still feel like you’re running a marathon.
It’s that feeling of relief you’re looking for as you cross the finish line; don’t waste your energy watching the clock tick. Wait for that breath you can finally take in completely, as you wait for your lungs to fill with air and feel your heart finally start to settle.
And when you do feel all that, like you can finally stop running or even chasing for something (or someone), you’ll be glad of the outcome—no matter what that outcome is. First or second, it won’t matter, because you finished and you survived.
Who the fuck cares if you came a few seconds after? The rewards are all the same.
Art Alexandra Lara