During Glamour's yearly poll of thousands of men on issues regarding love and sex and relationships, one polled member commented on the fact that it takes the average man between 3 and 6 months to decide that he wants to commit to a serious relationship. Obviously, to people like my mother and like, all other women on the face of the Earth, this doesn't make much sense, because, after you've been seeing the same person for the last 3 months, you just assume you're in a serious, committed relationship, right? Wrong.
One of the most frequent questions I get asked when people are asking me for advice is, "How long should I wait before I ask him to be serious/committed/my boyfriend?" This question usually comes within rapid succession of starting to see someone on a regular basis, because if there's one thing we know about women, it's that in our thinking, the equation goes: "time together + sex = hormonal bonding = relationship on lockdown, now, please." Some girls believe that after a month, you know what you want out of a relationship, and that the two month marker is the time to have The Talk. You know what talk. You've wanted to have The Talk after the first month into a relationship, I promise you. It's when your friends are bothering you if he's officially your boyfriend yet. If you have keys to his place. If you’ve met his friends or family. If you’ve had The Talk yet. Even if you weren’t thinking about it previously, hearing so much feedback almost brainwashes you into thinking the same way; you want to nail that shit down and have everything in neatly labeled little boxes like "Monogamous" and "Committed" and "Boyfriend." You want to know he's not just killing time with you until something else or someone else comes along. You want to know EXACTLY what you're doing together. Believe me, I know what I’m talking about, because not even I—the utterly casual/take-things-one-small-step-at-a-time girl—am immune to it. The more I’m asked if someone is my boyfriend, the more I itch to make him my boyfriend, if for no other reason than to stop the henpecking and make a more honest woman out of myself. I hate society for this reason.
But the fundamental problem is that your beginning months together as a couple are like a trial period to the rest of your relationship. You're still learning things about each other, getting to know the quirks and nuances of co-existing with another person. Things come up in this time that make, break, or shape how you feel about each other— you may not be able to deal with his constant throat-clearing without needing to leave the room for a 5 minute breather, and he may have a big beef with the fact that you steal the covers at night. It's a time of discovery, enlightenment, and compromise— NOT a time of solid relationship status. Even Patti Stanger, the Millionaire Matchmaker, suggests a 90-day trial to commitment, after which time, it's time to shit (in this metaphor, "shit" meaning a really unflattering synonym for deciding to do it proper,) or get off the pot and cast yourself back into the dating pool to try again.
There are so many more "little talks" that need to happen before the Big One that let you discover if you even NEED to have it. There's the "Do we like each other enough to continue seeing each other?" talk, usually after the first few dates. Then there's the "Here are my deal breakers" unveiling, usually done with each other in installments labeled along the lines of Religion, Politics, Lifestyle, Family, and Friends. Next comes a period of reconciliation about things like who drives and who pays the tab at the bar or restaurant and what pet names are appropriate and which aren't. And then there's the precursor to The Talk— the "Are we monogamous?" discussion. These are all important steps to gradually work through, and I can promise you, it'll take longer than a month to get through them. And do you know what skipping them— the necessary groundwork to any functional, grown-ass relationship— or rushing through them makes you look like? A crazy, needy woman who always needs to be in a relationship. Not flattering. So do your homework, hun.
Three months is the perfect amount of time in which to decide if you want to turn seeing someone into a serious, committed relationship. In three months, you should be able to assess how compatible you are, if you have the same goals and objectives, if the way they take their coffee is going to infuriate you every morning for the rest of your time together, if the sex is still as exciting as it was in the beginning and looks like it still will continue being exciting and fulfilling, and where you see this relationship going. You can date, meet each other's friends, get in fights, make up, sleep together, sleep in the same bed together, develop a routine for how you spend your time together— are you a stay in or go out couple, or a little bit of both?—, discover what aspects of the other suit and complement your own personalities, and get to learn each other's pet-peeves and deal breakers. You even have time to go on trips together, learn how the other deals when one of you gets sick, and possibly even meet the family. If you feel like you can't wait three months before jumping into an official relationship, I'd ask you to please look up the differences in the dictionary definitions between "love" and "lust."
So, the next time you feel the itch to break out The Talk and after a month, control yourself, girl. Wait it out a bit. Maybe, if you give him the time he apparently needs to make the decision on his own, he’ll even bring it up to you, which is just about the most romantic (can we guess what the word of the week is sponsored by?) thing that I can ever imagine happening. This may be one of those times when the man is right, after all. Give both of you some time (preferably around 90 days), and it'll all work out the way it should be, organically.