4 Important Things to Note About Making It 6 Months in Your Relationship
As with everything else related to relationships — first dates, first kisses, different levels of sexual intimacy, and so on — the six-month milestone can either feel seismically important or like it’s a total non-issue. For most couples, it’ll probably be somewhere in between; a pleasant reminder of the time spent together and the halfway point between the beginning of your relationship and your first anniversary.
But if your six-month is rapidly approaching, you might be wondering what’s expected of you, or what the date will mean for your relationship. To help soothe your worries, here are four questions about the big six-month anniversary that the average guy could stand to know the answers to.
1. What’s the Importance of the Six-Month Milestone?
Everyone knows that your first anniversary — when you’ve officially been a couple for one year — is kind of a big deal. But what about the six-month milestone? Is that a meaningful occasion?
“Some people celebrate being together for six months, and others balk at the notion of celebrating an anniversary without the ‘anni,’” says Jess O’Reilly, Ph.D., host of the Mindful Sex Video Course. Those who do celebrate are often looking for a reason to continue celebrating their love beyond the excitement of a new relationships. Six months marks a significant milestone for many people — especially college/university students who have been together for more than one semester.”
Beyond how important the six-month mark is to the two of you, it can also be meaningful just in terms of how the relationship is progressing.
“The six-month mark is a big deal because it means you’ve shifted into a new phase,” says dating coach Connell Barrett. In the first six months or so, he says, “You’re literally fueled by oxytocin, the powerful hormone (aka “the love drug”) that creates sexual attraction and the floaty feeling of new romance. You project onto your significant other the positive traits you want, seeing them less as they are and more as you want them to be.”
“Hitting the six-month milestone is big because you’ve graduated to […] realising that you love and care for the real person, with all their strengths and flaws,” he adds. “Rather than being love-drunk, you’re aware of each other’s character. You see each other with clearer eyes.”
2. How Should You Celebrate Being Together for Six Months?
If you’re the type of person who feels pressure to “perform” grand romantic gestures in order to impress your partner, it might be worth scaling those back for the six-month mark just a tad.
“Celebrating and investing your relationship is always a good thing, so if you’re inclined to spend time together to celebrate each new month of love, go ahead and do it,” says O’Reilly. “If, however, you put too much pressure on yourself or your partner, it can lead to letdown.”
Unless your partner has specifically mentioned a desire to mark the occasion in a meaningful way, consider doing something small instead — whether it’s a tangible gift or an experience — and saving the fireworks for further down the road.
“Rather than focusing on how you celebrate your six-month anniversary, shift the focus to how you feel while you’re celebrating,” suggests O’Reilly. “You don’t have to perform grand gestures to celebrate your love and you’ll likely find that small efforts on a daily basis are more important than annual or bi-annual celebrations.”
If you are looking to do something romantic with your partner, Barrett suggests taking a trip together.
“By month six, if things are going well, it’s because you’ve fallen for the real person, not some hormone-fueled mental construct. It means you love each other,” he says. “That’s worth celebrating. It’s a great time to take a trip together. A getaway can serve to solidify this deeper, more meaningful connection you’ve forged. An escape is a great way to christen this deeper, more authentic bond you share.”
RELATED: What You Should Know About Traveling as a Couple
However, taking a trip together within the first few months of dating might be jumping the gun, he warns. “So much time together can break the spell that nature casts in the infatuation stage. But a trip is the perfect way to celebrate the six-month mark.”
3. Is Six Months Around When the Honeymoon Period Ends?
Most people are familiar with the concept of the “honeymoon period” of a relationship — the notion that in the early going (that is, the first few months), a relationship will feel easy, pleasant and exciting. It’s said that those positive feelings will subside a little bit, becoming less intense and shifting toward a slightly (or very) different-feeling stage of the relationship.
According to Barrett, that shift is likely to happen in the lead-up to the six-month milestone.
“By the sixth month, you’re much more comfortable showing your real self,” he says. “It feels good, like you’re removing a mask. But this is when things get real. You’ll find out what annoys you about them, and whether or not you have the same values, goals and priorities for a long-term relationship.”
In that sense, the six-month anniversary could also be the beginning of the next step for you as a couple, helping to see if you’re both still invested in the relationship.
“It’s the next six to 12 months that determine if your big life stuff is aligned,” says Barrett. “You’ll decide, ‘Will this person meet my needs long-term, and will I want to meet their needs?’ The answer to those questions will determine if you enter [the next phase] — long-term commitment.”
O’Reilly agrees that the six-month mark can represent a shift out of the honeymoon period for many couples. “Some research suggests that the chemical shifts associated with new love (aka limerence) level off around the six-month mark; of course, every person and relationship is unique, so some people find that this levelling-off occurs sooner and for others, it takes longer to arrive,” she says.
“When you first meet and fall in love with a new partner, you experience chemical shifts in the body, including increases in dopamine and adrenaline and a decrease in serotonin,” O’Reilly explains. “These shifts can support feelings of passion, desire and excitement.”
RELATED: The Brain Chemicals You Didn’t Realize Were Fueling Your Sex Life
In short, there’s clearly some scientific evidence to support the existence of the honeymoon period, but whether your relationship survives beyond that point will be up to the two of you.
4. Can the State of the Relationship After Six Months Be a Sign of Things to Come?
While there’s no inherent importance to the six-month milestone, making it to half a year together can be a good time to check in on how the relationship is progressing and how you feel about it.
O’Reilly points out that the important thing to consider when thinking about conflicts in the relationship is their tenor (how they unfold), and not whether they’re present or absent.
“It’s normal to disagree with a partner, whether you’re been together six months, six years or 16 years,” she notes. “You will argue, but how you engage in conflict matters: Do you make space for your partner to speak and really listen? Do they do the same? Do you focus on finding a solution or on winning the argument? Are you kind and empathetic even when you disagree? Do you consider their perspective before responding or do you jump in without thinking?”
Your responses to those questions, O’Reilly suggests, can give you a good understanding of whether your relationship is on firm or shaky ground.
RELATED: What You Should Know About Couples Therapy
“If you’re struggling at the six-month mark (or any time), it’s never too early to seek the support of a therapist or counselor,” she adds. “They can help you to work on the way you communicate with one another to lay the groundwork for a happy future.”
If the interactions between the two of you already feel exhausting and unpleasant a lot of the time, it could ultimately be a bad sign of what’s to come.
“If things are rocky [by the sixth month] — you feel micromanaged, you bicker, there’s resentment, small things annoy you — you’re probably not meant to be a couple,” says Barrett. “But if after six months you still feel deeply connected, and you [are] still meeting each other’s emotional needs, it means that your authentic selves are dovetailing. Having the other person in your life makes you feel loved, certain, supported, connected, and you deeply desire to make them feel the same. If that’s how you feel, you’re headed for the final stage — a long-term commitment.”
And that’s definitely something to celebrate.
You Might Also Dig: