They say that the first three months in a new job are critical. Well, the same can be said about the first three months of a new relationship.
„The first three months of a new relationship will set the precedent of how the relationship will play out,“ says Sandra Myers, a relationship expert and the cofounder of Select Date Society.
„When you create healthy habits on how to communicate effectively, how to resolve conflict, and how to manage schedules, you are setting your relationship up to have staying power.“
Yes, the honeymoon phase feels good – really good. Which makes couples more likely to move too fast, ignore red flags or omit important discussions in their first three months together.
„During this time, the relationship and partner can be almost intoxicating – literally releasing a surge of feel-good chemicals in our brains,“ says Dr. Beth Ribarsky, a professor of interpersonal communication with an expertise in romantic relationships at the University of Illinois Springfield.
So, take your love goggles off for a minute and consider the top mistakes that couples make in their first three months together. You’ll know what to avoid and what to focus on to set your budding romance up for success.
1. Putting on a Facade
While wanting to put your best foot forward in the beginning of a relationship is normal, there is a fine line between making a good impression and putting on a facade. The latter is a common mistake that doesn’t allow your relationship to grow on a foundation of authenticity.
„When we don’t let our partner see who we really are, they are essentially getting to know a stranger. One small thing that many people do, for example, is fake their interests and hobbies in hopes that by liking the same thing as their partner, their partner will like them more,“ says Ribarsky.
„Although it can be wonderful for partners to expose us to new interests, when you fake liking something you despise, you’re building a relationship on a lie.“
2. Ignoring Red Flags
Ignoring red flags in the early days of dating is another common mistake to avoid.
You’re falling in love and focusing on each other’s positive attributes. But turning a blind eye to potential issues doesn’t mean that they will go away. They often become more serious over time or you end up breaking up later because of problems that were there from the beginning, says Myers.
If you notice a lack of alignment between your partner’s words and actions, ask them about it. If you worry about their lack of communication during conflict, share your worries. Be proactive about discussing concerns.
3. Mistaking Sexual Attraction for Romantic Connection
There is a difference between sexual attraction and a romantic connection. Yet it’s easy to mistake the two when the chemistry between you and your new partner is off the charts.
As Myers puts it, that’s because attraction can be so intense that it can consume you. But, eventually, familiarity sets in — and that’s when many people find themselves lacking the true connection they need to make a relationship last.
The first three months can be full of passion, and that’s great, but you’ll want to take the time to reflect on whether there is more to your connection than wanting to be all over each other.
4. Moving Too Fast
On that note, some people rush into a committed relationship without taking the time to assess long-term compatibility. Others get swept off their feet by people who end up being toxic and manipulative.
Don’t make the mistake of moving too fast in those first three months. Take your time — and beware of love bombing, the practice of lavishing someone with excessive affection and attention, says Myers:
„If your new partner is showering you with attention, gifts, and compliments, beware! Relationships that start out by ‚love bombing‘ often end up in turmoil. Narcissists and abusers are notorious for being love bombers.“
5. Not Being Aware of Conflict Styles
Even if you take things slow, three months is not always enough time to understand each other’s conflict style. That first big fight says a lot about your potential as a couple, according to Ribarsky.
„Research has shown that often how a couple handles their first big fight lays the groundwork for predicting whether a relationship will be successful,“ she says.
You don’t want to start arguments for the sake of arguing, but you definitely want to start paying attention to how you and your new partner handle conflict when it does arise, whether that happens in the first three months or later.
6. Neglecting Other Aspects of Life
You’re crazy about each other. You want to spend every moment of every day getting to know each other and going on fun dates. However, getting too enmeshed and neglecting other aspects of your life can be a costly relationship mistake.
„It’s OK to be enthusiastic about your newfound love, but don’t let your enthusiasm damage your existing relationships with the people who are important to you. A great relationship should enhance your life, not take away from it,“ says Myers. So, keep your hobbies and nurture your sense of individuality.
7. Not Discussing Major Life Goals and Beliefs
Talk about the big things early on, recommends Ribarsky. Family values, life goals, sex, money…Those things can be awkward to bring up but delaying crucial conversations is a huge mistake. For example, if you don’t want kids and your new girlfriend dreams of a huge family, you’re unlikely to be a good match and it’s better to find this out sooner than later.
8.Making Major Life Decisions
That being said, while talking about the big things is a good idea in the first few months, actually making said big life decisions is a bad one, according to Myers.
„Couples who make major life decisions in the first 90 days of their relationship almost always regret it,“ she says. „Do not move in together, get married, get matching tattoos, have unprotected sex, or make any other major life decisions that can have a lasting impact.“
Hold off on that Vegas elopement and, again, take your time. If the relationship is meant to be, it’ll still be around a few months or years down the line.
Some of the advice above is meant to prevent you from jumping in a relationship that won’t work out in the long run. But a lot of it is about setting the tone for a successful partnership through healthy communication habits.
If you’re compatible, avoiding common early-relationship mistakes will increase your chances of being happy together. If you’re not, it will save you heartache down the line. Use those relationship-defining first three months wisely.
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