If history is anything to go by, it should be a cold day in Hell that I find myself agreeing with a man on Love Island. Alas, this season has already turned everything upside down: a male contestant actually spoke sense.
The pearl of wisdom came from the mouth of boxer Haris Namani, a 21-year-old who said on the first episode last night that he’s never actually been in a relationship. ‘I’ve always had situations where we’ve got along for the first two months, three months,’ Haris explained. ‘After three months if it’s not a case of like “Wow, I’m going to bring this girl back home, I’m going to introduce her to my sisters or my mum”, it’s never came to that.’
‘There’s always a three-month rule I think,’ Anna-May Robey, his official first partner in the villa, agreed.
Now, we must preface any embracing of Haris’s words by noting that he has, in fact, been accused of lying about his relationship history. According to eagle-eyed TikToker’s, Haris was in a relationship with influencer Courtney Hodgson for a year before going on the show, with viewers pointing to videos of the pair on holiday and out to dinner.
But telling fibs or not, one must admit that the so-called ‘three-month rule’ is quite a useful bar to measure potential relationships against. If you’ve been dating someone for 12 precious weeks of your life, seeing them presumably once a week, surely you have done all the necessary due diligence and bonding to know whether you want to be monogamous or not.
‘I would know even before two months,’ says Lily, 28 from Liverpool. ‘I think then it’s a question of respecting yourself and knowing what you bring to a person’s life. I want a partner who can’t believe their luck at having found me, so if they’re still not sure about you after that much time, you’re obviously not that compatible or they don’t deserve to have you in their life.’
‘If I’m dating someone for three months, then I’m definitely thinking we are some kind of relationship – even if it’s not said,’ agrees Anna, 34 from Nottingham. ‘So, I think if there is no commitment on one side then it’s definitely time to call it quits! I think when you know, you know. I say give it a month.’
So perhaps the three-month rule is even too long, but would men agree with the one-month rule? Apparently so.
‘I think most men know within six weeks at least, I knew after a month with my current girlfriend,’ Paul*, 27 from London told Grazia. ‘I mean I have friends who tell women six months or longer, but that’s just so they can keep stringing them along. Maybe sometimes there’s doubts because of past relationships or they still want to enjoy being single, but I think most men are quite in or out straight away. If a person doesn’t make me want to commit 100% after a couple of months, I’m probably never going to take it seriously.’
Paul raises an interesting question. What of the people who are still healing from past relationship traumas and need more time to decide? Don’t they deserve space to navigate that without a cut-off point? Or what if they just want to get to know you better, aware of the fact that for so many of us those first fateful months we’re often selling the best version of ourselves?
You don’t know who someone actually is until six months in when you’ve had your first argument.
‘In the first three months it’s all hormones and lust and excitement, you don’t see who someone actually is until six months when you’ve had your first argument,’ says Hanna, 32 from Berwick-upon-Tweed. ‘You need to see someone’s flaws, let the hormones subside and then you know whether you actually like them or just the idea of being with someone or them. At the beginning you’re so flattered by someone liking you and the joy that comes with it, so you need to give it time to know it’s real.’
‘As I’ve matured into my 30s, I’ve realised that my desire to make things official quickly was all about the label, and not in tune with my real feelings,’ agrees Toni*, 31 from London. ‘I was always desperate for male validation, so when the prospect of being picked came along in the form of getting into a relationship, I couldn’t wait to update my friends over drinks and drop the bomb.
‘Really, I should’ve spent more time worrying about whether I actually liked the person,’ Toni continues. ‘More often than not I was so busy trying to impress them that a few more months down the line I was left sitting across the table from someone I barely knew, let alone liked, but I’d made the commitment to them and guilt-tripped them into doing the same. So now I’m in favour of the long talking stage. Be exclusive sure, but take time to make sure you know the person, see them angry, disappointed, tired, hungry, exhausted before you soft launch them on Instagram.’
Perhaps then, especially for those dating men, it’s knowing the difference between someone whose dating you with the intention to couple up, and someone who’s taking the piss so they can have their cake and eat it. It’s looking for those clues that they might not be ready for monogamy, lovebombing you or selling a dream over being themselves. Because while playing the long game might be important to know what you have is real, it’s also essential to know that if you’re sure about someone, they should be sure about you – it’s not worth damaging your self-esteem by giving someone access to you that isn’t sure of your value.