"I am wondering if am I trapped in some kind of dating curse, why my relationships never last more than three months," said Hu Yiran, a 25-year-old girl based in Beijing, who just broke up with her fourth boyfriend a few weeks ago.
Hu is not alone. Many young people, including celebrities, may want an answer. On September 7, American pop star Taylor Swift broke up with Thor (2011) actor Tom Hiddleston, her ninth boyfriend in almost as many years, according to celebrity and entertainment magazine US Weekly.
Swift and Hiddleston were first caught kissing on Rhode Island in June. However, three months later, they were calling it quits.
"Nowadays, there seems to be a threshold for some young people. Their relationships are not lasting long," said Sun Hao, a Beijing-based relationship counselor, who started her consulting career in 2008.
The duration is usually about three months. The first three months are the best part and can be called the "honeymoon phase" for most couples, Sun said.
When people fall in love, their brain secretes hormones, such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and phenylethylamine. These chemicals can make people feel excited and think irrationally.
"Sometimes people think that what they are feeling is love and rush into a relationship," said Qin Zezhong, the chief psychologist at Beijing ZhiXin Psychological Consulting Company. "But as time passes, the level of those hormones goes down and the couple's ability to think rationally returns, so they may rethink their relationship."
Different people have different personal experiences and hormone levels, said Qin. He said that for some people, the euphoric feeling lasts about three months, which makes the first three months of their relationship sweeter and more fragile.
Hu said she and her ex-boyfriend fell in love at first sight and her life was full of passionate moments in the beginning. However, as they began to spend more time together and bump up against each other's quirks, frictions developed.
"I fought with my latest ex-boyfriend once because of his table manners. He would stir his food first before finally picking up some from his bowl to eat. It was extremely impolite, and when I asked him not to do it, he got irritable and mad," she said. "We fought a lot then. He accused me of being too picky and controlling, and I felt he was rude and bullheaded."
After Hu's recent breakup, she started to reflect on some of the possible reasons her relationships fizzled and died so quickly.
"My ex-boyfriends at one time or the other all mentioned that I am a little bit controlling and picky," she said. "It seemed fine in the beginning, but as time went by, it became a problem."
To end the cycle of serial dating, Qin suggested that young couples undertake to solve problems together and be understanding with each other.
"When they have conflicts, it is a good thing," Qin said. "It means that they are moving forward to a new phase of deeper understanding about each other. They should never avoid or hide problems. Instead, they should be more open and honest with each other to solve their problems because communication and tolerance are the keys to maintaining a relationship."
Sun shared Qin's opinion, adding that keeping the relationship interesting is also important. "Keeping the feeling of freshness is essential. For example, giving each other more personal space is a good way of helping some couples keep their relationship's freshness," she said.
Hu has decided to take a break from relationships and focus on herself for a while.
"I want to cool down and figure out my problems before I put myself into the next relationship," she said. "I hope that I can break the three-month cycle."