None of my relationships have ever lasted longer than three months.
It's like a cycle: We go on a few dates, we decide seeing each other's faces IRL is more enjoyable than swiping on dating apps, we transition into full-on "we like each other" stage with make outs and deep questions like "what's your biggest fear?"
And then, right before approaching the three-month mark, out of nowhere, something happens—and poof!—there goes my person.
Sometimes it’s because one of us moves to a different city, other times it’s because things just implode naturally. But often, I truly just have no idea why things seemingly go to shit.
I know, I know, three months doesn't seem like a Very Long Time, but things move quicker than I’d like to admit. And in my personal experience, it is v possible to fall in love within three months, which makes the breakup—err, ending of the situationship—even harder to accept.
After consulting my friends on the issue, I've since realized that this isn't just a me problem, though. Apparently, they can't make it past the first 90 days either.
Well, turns out, there's legit scientific evidence that explains why men get scared, ghost, and/or end things with you after the three-month mark.
It has to do with what's called evolutionary psychology, a theory that basically says that humans engage in two different mating strategies: short-term mating and long-term mating, explains licensed mental health counselor and psychotherapist Jack Worthy.
Short-term mating happens when you only seek sexual chemistry (like for hookups, summer flings, vacations, etc.). But long-term mating happens when people look for more permanent suitors. They may ask themselves things like, "Is this person ambitious and successful enough to settle down with?" or "Will this person complement my life?"
Here's where it gets tricky though: While most species pick a lane and seek either short-term mating or long-term mating (99.9 percent of the time for breeding purposes), humans do both. "This creates a good deal of conflict," says Worthy. Especially since we can select both types of partners simultaneously.
And because "male sexual psychology can confuse short and long-term attraction early in a relationship,” says Worthy, this makes things extra sticky, mainly because of how male hormones work.
Men tend to feel emotions differently in the first three months from how women do. "The first wave of male attraction tends to be more physical and unconscious. It’s an intuitive, animal draw. And if you feel that draw towards someone with powerful intensity, you might believe that you’re falling in love," says Worthy. (Key words: They might believe that they're falling in love.)
This is why men may make promises early on or talk about the future with you, because they legitimately believe you two have one. They aren't necessarily lying about their intentions, they're just feeling emotions in a different way—as "women more typically than men tend to develop a sexual attraction quite later, after his character is revealed," Worthy says.
But then... that euphoric feeling men once confused for love eventually starts deteriorating after the 90-day period, and that’s when men typically dip out. After 90 days, the dating intentions become clear and someone might find themselves not ready for long-term mating. That mismatch is almost always revealed in the first 90 days, says Worthy.
So even though this all sounds super shitty and like psychology is trying to literally fuck up your love life, the good news is there are some solid ways to prevent you from getting dick-punched by the three-month slump again.
For one, you can make sure your Tinder match's words align with their actions, says Worthy. Any man can say "I think I'm falling for you" or "I've never felt this way before" very early on, but are their actions backing that up? Are they communicating with you well? Prioritizing you? Showing up for you?
Also, it's probably best to keep things decently casual the first 90 days since hormones are heightened in this time. Then after those three months, you can evaluate where your feelings stand and whether or not this person is someone you actively want to pursue. (You'll be able to think more clearly once your hormones have calmed TF down.)
That said, don't be afraid to set clear boundaries and expectations for what you're looking for right from the beginning, says Worthy. If you're ready for long-term commitment, be upfront about that. And if your partner says they are only looking for something casual, don't expect to change their mind.
Lastly, invest in yourself through therapy, journaling, meditation, or yoga, says Worthy. "Nurture your social life. Nurture your career. Nurture hobbies and leisure pursuits," he says. You'll want to generate as much self respect and self esteem as you can away from the romantic and sexual domains. "That way, when you seek someone to love you, you will already love you. And that’s an empowered position.”
So that's exactly what I'm going to do as I navigate this new situationship I'm currently in right now. Because even though I still can’t help but to wonder if everything this new boy is saying to me is one big fucking lie, I've made my intentions clear. And I'm trusting that if he is the one, he will break my 90-day-breakup streak. Eight more weeks to go.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.