'Three Months Of Good Behavior': The TikTok Dating Rule For More Successful Relationships

Being rewarded for "good behavior" might seem like something that only applies to prisoners looking to get out of jail early, but some people are using a similar concept in their love lives and reaping major benefits as a result. Specifically, daters like content creator Lily Chapman have put potential partners to the test with the "three months of good behavior" rule.

In a TikTok video explaining the rule, Chapman says that she refuses to commit to a relationship with someone until they've exhibited good behavior for a full 90 days — and that's exactly how she landed the healthy, happy relationship she currently has. "I don't like breakups, and it's really hard for me to break up with someone because once I've committed to them, I view it as, like, a very serious commitment, even if it's just dating. And so I really wanted to see three months of, like, knowing he was good, knowing he was the right person for me before I was ready to call him my boyfriend because I knew once I did that it would be a lot harder to end it."

The dating rule may have prevented potential heartbreak for the TikToker, but how can you make it work for you? Here's what you need to know.

What counts as good behavior?

There isn't one definition of "good behavior" according to the three-month TikTok rule, which might make it difficult to know what to look for. In her viral clip, Lily Chapman lists a few examples of what she considered to be good behavior in a love interest: "I was basically looking for consistently telling the truth, remaining kind in stressful situations, just a continued warmth and interest in me that didn't dissipate as soon as I reciprocated interest."

Though Chapman's must-haves in a partner are a good jumping-off point, your personal criteria may vary depending on your own values and realistic deal-breakers. It helps to reflect on past relationships to determine what worked — and what didn't — before. You can also consider how certain behaviors make you feel. For example, if you know you feel hurt every time a partner takes days to text back, a "good" behavior might be regularly responding to your messages and putting forth an effort to keep the convo going.

When following the three months of good behavior rule, be sure to watch out for toxic behavior too. Only looking for the positives could create a blind spot for red flags and signs of incompatibility. Remain neutral and open-minded when getting to know someone new so you can recognize both the good and the bad.

Why wait three months?

At the heart of the TikTok rule is a personal promise to not start a relationship until the other person has proven themselves over a three-month period. But does the amount of time you wait really matter? Yes, according to research and expert insights. "The three month-mark in a relationship is usually when you either take the relationship to the next level and become more serious, or you decide that love isn't going to grow and you break ties," dating coach Anna Morgenstern shared with Bustle.

This point is also when many new couples figure out if they truly have what it takes to go the distance. According to research conducted by the dating app Inner Circle, 68% of daters have had a relationship end after three months. The app explains that three months is the amount of time women generally require to build trust with a partner, while men tend to contemplate their feelings for someone more deeply around the three-month point. This is all part of what Inner Circle calls the "feelings gap," or the difference in time required between heterosexual men and women when choosing to commit to a relationship.

TikToker Lily Chapman has another reason for waiting three months: "It's really easy to fake being a good [person]," at least for a few weeks. If you get attached quickly, holding off a little longer can help you judge if someone is really right for you or just another dud.