Q. I’ve been dating someone for almost six months, but with our busy travel schedules we have really only been in the same city for three months, on and off (a week here, two weeks there, and so on).
When we’re in town for brief stints, we’re together almost every night. Everything on TikTok screams the “three month rule” — or you should know if it’s love by six months. Dating in the digital age is too confusing.
He’s kind and funny, complimentary, and consistent. We get along well, but we’re both indecisive. When we’re together, things are great, but when we’re away, sometimes I feel like his romantic enthusiasm isn’t as present.
We don’t text much while we’re away; it’s a daily text with one long “here’s what I’m up to,” which is fun and friendly but feels a little forced compared to some of my other relationships.
Should I know if it’s love by now? Should I be more ready to dive in if it’s right? We both say we like each other and that travel is screwing up “the timeline,” but … should there be a timeline if he’s really the right person for me?
DAZED, CONFUSED, AND NOT IN LOVE … YET?
A. I enjoy TikTok for armchair travel and for watching other people’s skincare routines.
But I don’t let it tell me how to love. I don’t believe anyone on that platform knows a magic timeline for romance and commitment.
Please use it for entertainment and stop there.
You don’t know if you’re in love because you haven’t had much consistency in the relationship. If you were around this person more often, you might be able to answer more questions. It makes perfect sense that you feel hot and cold about it.
My question is about the travel. Is it forever? Are you both working toward being in the same place more often? That seems like the best goal — to get more in-person moments. Then you can start considering whether this is a person you want around in the future.
Even then, it wouldn’t be about diving in. You’d be learning at your own pace. You shouldn’t feel pressure to feel overwhelmingly wild and confident about someone you’ve known less than a year. Half a year!
Also, when people shout “I love you!” at three months, it’s nice. But at eight months they might be like, “Wow, you are annoying, actually!”
I hope you both can enjoy this and see how it goes. If travel makes it too difficult to evolve together, that’s another issue, and you can always say it isn’t the right time.
“When we’re together, things are great, but when we’re away, sometimes I feel like his romantic enthusiasm isn’t as present.” It ISN’T as present, dear letter writer, because he’s not present. And that’s both normal and A-OK. You’re judging yourself and your relationship by unmanageable standards. Who cares what TikTok says? Relationships are the opposite of one-size-fits-all. You’re both indecisive according to your letter, and your angst is probably impacting him negatively. I suggest you just relax, let this flow organically, and see how you both feel a little later on. Deadlines are so arbitrary, and by following an artificial one you risk losing a good relationship.
I think three months is way too early to know you are in love, yet there are people who do know. There’s no timeline that you have to follow based on what other people do. The fact that you’re not together as much will mean that things will take longer. Just go at your own pace.
“When we’re together, things are great.” Then that’s all you need to know for the moment. You can’t really establish meaningful connections through text. It’s just a way of checking in. Once a day is fine. You could try twice per day, maybe a “good night’ or some such thing.
If you travel that much then this is the kind of relationship you can likely expect. I don’t see any issues with the relationship at this early stage. Maybe the issue to address is how much you travel.
Send your own relationship and dating questions to email@example.com or fill out this form. Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.