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The Three Month Itch

Over the festive season thousands of Australians will fall in love, often with people they meet online. But plenty of these matches are destined not to last the distance – not because they are holiday romances but simply because most early courtships don’t work out.  Many fall victim to the three month itch.

This is peak dating time. Our largest dating site, the Fairfax owned RSVP, normally averages over 1200 singles signing up every day but new daily membership doubles around Christmas as many thousands decide to bite the bullet.

Large numbers will be successful. We all know people who have met their current partners online. Yet many new matches are short-lived and not just the ones where people meet online. What’s the chances Batchelotte’s Sam Frost has got it right this second time round?

In the past three years I’ve spent as an online dating coach my work has expanded from just writing profiles to supporting clients as they move in and out of new relationships. After helping over 140 people through this process, I’ve noticed an intriguing pattern – clients excitedly announcing they’ve found new partners only to come back to me after a few months when it’s all come unstuck.

I’ve just written about the three month itch for the Sydney Morning Herald, pointing out that it is nonsensical to think that anyone can tell who is right for them after just a few dates. However magical that heart-pounding emotion and overwhelming desire to tear each other’s clothes off, it’s only when you spend real time together that the cracks start to appear.

I describe some of the many issues that emerge in these early relationships: problems over parenting; skittish men who disappear at the first sign of tension in the relationship; all the myriad signs of incompatibility that can bring a relationship unstuck.

Yet this is not meant as a downer, proof that online dating just doesn’t work. The three month itch also happens in fresh real life dating situations but the difference is that the internet makes it just that much easier for everyone to move on and hope lightning will strike again. The fact that most people return to online dating after a breakup shows how effective the process is in connecting people and setting up the possibility of a lasting romance .

This early dating process shouldn’t be about rejection, feeling judged or misused. It’s just a mutual process of looking for a fit and that’s hard to find. Nielson research for RSVP found almost of third of online daters have these short term relationships, but only 12 per cent end up with long term relationships or marriages.

It means you have to lighten up and learn to enjoy the thrill of a new possibility, the intriguing business of getting to know someone new. But that’s all it is – an early process of discovery that might be the start of something wonderful or simply a chance to know oneself a little better.

It helps to know about these patterns, to realize that these starter relationships will often fall victim to the three month itch. But it’s still good to be in the thick of it, partaking in life’s rich tapestry rather than sitting on the sidelines of life.

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