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This One Relationship Rule is Proven to Help Your Love Last

Did you ask out your crush for Valentine’s Day and are still basking in the blissful glow of a new relationship? Here’s how to make it last.

Credit: Shutterstock/George Rudy

Did you ask out your crush for Valentine’s Day and are still basking in the blissful glow of a brand-new relationship? Enjoy the euphoria while it lasts, but be warned: no relationship is perfect forever. Use the 3-6-9 method and make sure you aren’t blinded by those golden early days.

The 3-6-9 method is the idea that there are three phases a relationship will go through in the first year. This creates a framework for you to ensure your relationship is proceeding at a healthy pace.

In the 3-6-9 rule, the first three months are the “honeymoon” stage, the next three months are the “conflict” stage, and the final three months are the “decision-making” stage.

Check out this TikTok explaining the rule in more detail:

The 3-6-9 rule will stop you from committing too deeply, too quickly.

Avoid committing to someone who initiates a long-term commitment within the first three months, and ensure you don’t consistently find yourself stuck in the conflict stage of the relationship, regardless of how long it’s been.

By the end of the first year, you’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of your partner. 

Here, we’ll break down each stage of the 3-6-9 rule, what they look like, and what’s normal to feel during this phase of your relationship.

The Honeymoon Stage

Credit: Shutterstock/pink panda

Couples typically label the initial three months of a relationship as the “Honeymoon Phase.”

During this phase, you feel almost high on love. The brain is quite literally doped up on happy chemicals. Research shows that the brain is flooded with dopamine during the early stages of a relationship. Take this time to bask in the joy of it!
The honeymoon phase doesn’t last forever, and regaining the magic is challenging once it goes.

It’s normal to have disagreements and even arguments during this stage, but they shouldn’t be constant or difficult. It’s also normal to fantasize and even talk about further commitments like moving in together marriage, and even children. Be wary of actually taking these steps until you know each other a little deeper.

The Conflict Stage

A young couple sit opposite each other on the couch. The woman is closer to the camera, holding a tissue with her head in her hands.
Credit: Shutterstock/CandyBox Images

After those first few months, the time leading up to that 6-month mark can become tumultuous. This is often when your differences come to light, and you have to learn how to navigate conflict as a team effectively.

This stage isn’t fun, but it shouldn’t be devastating. You shouldn’t be feeling unsafe or like you have to change yourself for your partner.

Constructive communication and discussion should resolve conflicts. Constant yelling and screaming isn’t fun nor normal- and you should definitely never feel scared of your partner.

Take these months as a chance to see past the rose-colored glasses and figure out how you deal with difficult moments together. If it doesn’t feel constructive, it may be time to reevaluate.

The Decision-Making Stage

A young couple are looking at each other, smiling. The sun is setting behind them.
Credit: Shutterstock/Dean Drobot

After those first 6 months you two have probably been through a lot. By now, you’ve seen the best and the worst of each other, and now it’s time to see how that all meets in the middle. 

At this point, your relationship has probably settled into something more normal after the whirlwind of honeymoon love and first-time arguments. Now, you get a glimpse of what day-to-day life might be like if you truly commit to this person.

You should be checking in with yourself throughout your whole relationship, but now is the time to really sit down with yourself and ask what’s best for you. Do you really want to commit to this person long-term? Do you work well as a team? Can you communicate without arguing?

Ask yourself these questions and use everything you’ve learned in the past six months to ensure you’re making the right choice.

Put Yourself First!

Remember: Every relationship is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. The most important thing is to feel safe, loved, and heard by your partner; if you’re happy and secure, that’s all that matters.

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