Think back to all of your relationships. They all started and developed relatively the same, right? Well, they should have. A relationship timeline – no matter who you date – should be relatively similar. That is, if it’s a healthy relationship.
Each relationship goes through different stages at different times. And while some couples can stay in certain phases for longer than others, they still go through the same timeline. You may think it sounds silly that a relationship timeline exists but stick with me.
Why it’s important for relationships to grow and change
Your relationship will never be the same as it was when you first began dating. The excitement and lust slows down and you end up in a comfortable routine. This may seem scary at first, but it’s actually very important – and very healthy.
You’re not supposed to stay in the same stage of a relationship. You need to grow and change as a couple. You learn more about each other, you see someone for all that they are, and you learn how to live together in harmony while enjoying each other’s company. Those steps are crucial for living happily with someone. [Read: 9 relationship stages all couples go through]
What a healthy relationship timeline is supposed to look like
If you look back on all your relationships, you may realize that not all of them will have followed this timeline. And to be honest, those relationships probably weren’t the healthiest or the happiest.
In order to have a healthy and happy relationship, this is what it should look like. These steps and stages are crucial for getting to know your partner as a whole and introducing them to your world and who you are at the same time.
#1 The initial interest. This is when you first notice that the other person is someone you want to get to know more. You basically get a crush on them initially. It’s also when you start asking friends about them and you start creeping on their social media accounts. All those butterflies and feel-good vibes start rolling in. [Read: How to know if you like someone – Your hidden feelings revealed]
#2 The first date. At this point, you’ve already spoken to them and decided you want to try it out. You know them well enough to want a date with them and so the first date has arrived. This is when you really get to see how you connect intimately and how your chemistry is.
#3 The first kiss. This can happen right after the first date or it can also happen after the second or even third date. No matter what, you should always at least go on one date before you kiss them. That kiss is a powerful moment. With this kiss, you see how compatible you two are and your feelings either grow stronger or dissipate. [Read: 15 secrets to make the first kiss memorable]
#4 The first time. After you’ve been on some dates with them and you are happy with the way things are going, it’s time to turn up the heat in the bedroom. Now, depending on how old you are and how comfortable you are with someone, this step in the relationship timeline may happen much later and at a slower pace.
The point is, it does happen eventually. Unless you have religious reasons for not having sex until marriage, this step happens after a month or two. It’s all about where your comfort level is.
#5 Sleeping over. The first time you have sex is usually followed by a sleepover, but not always. The truth is, sometimes you’ll need to go home. Sometimes they’ll need to be up early. Whatever the case may be, a sleepover usually happens after the sex. This really helps you bond with them closer. At this stage, you’re also usually in a monogamous relationship. [Read: Sleeping over – How to make things run smoothly]
#6 Meeting the friends. Now that you two are officially together, it’s time to meet the friends. Depending on how you know this person, you may already know their friends.
However, if your relationship is with someone new, this is the next step. You can really learn a lot about a person from their friends.
#7 The honeymoon phase ends. Up until now, you’ve been in the honeymoon phase and may be in it for a little while longer. But after a few months, this stage dwindles. The intense lust and passion slows down and you’re left in a comfortable norm. [Read: How long does the honeymoon phase last?]
#8 Getting comfortable. Just when the honeymoon phase ends, you get really comfortable. This is when you get into a sort of routine with them. You know them really well, you’re happy with them, and you feel great being yourself around them.
#9 Meet the parents. You should be dating for a while before you get to meet the parents. Of course, this changes with age. But generally, when you’re in a more serious relationship, meeting the parents is what happens next.
This can help you see what life in their family would look like and just how well you’d fit it. [Read: 7 definite signs it’s time to meet the parents]
#10 Things get serious. Months have gone by at this point and you’re ready to start discussing life with this person. You love them by now and have expressed just that. And that means you’ll be talking about what you think of marriage and kids. Things are getting very serious between the two of you.
#11 Discuss moving in. After about a year or so of dating, it’s usually time to discuss living together. This can change depending on if you’re in a long-distance relationship or whatnot. However, it’s definitely something that shouldn’t happen for about a year. Then you can talk about if you want to and whether or not you think it’s a good idea.
#12 Follow through with moving in. Since you’re in a serious relationship and have discussed moving in, it’s time to pull the trigger and actually do it. You’ll be moving in together!
This means splitting expenses, learning what they’re like when you live there, and getting to know them on an even more intimate level. [Read: 15 things to know before moving in together]
#13 Engagement. It only makes sense after a year or so of living together that an engagement will happen. If things are going well and you both love and enjoy each other, it’s definitely time. So long as you’re both on the same page with marriage and kids, it’s inevitable.
#14 Marriage. If you’ve made it this far, marriage is obviously the next step after an engagement. Nothing more really happens after you’re engaged. You still live together and you still want to marry them. And so you get married!
At this stage, you’re making a lifelong commitment to remain with that person forever. [Read: Surprising truths about the first year of marriage]
#15 Kids and life beyond. This is when you live happily ever after. Of course, it’s not always that simple. This is by far the longest stage and your relationship will go through ups and downs even after you have kids and such. The point is, kids are really the last major thing you go through as an evolving couple.
The rest of the stages in your relationship depend completely upon the couple. You may end up needing couples counseling or you may end up being completely happy forever. No matter what, you’ve made it this far and your relationship timeline is complete. You should be happy!
[Read: 10 relationship milestones and when they should happen]
It’s hard to say exactly what a relationship timeline looks like. Certain things may shift around depending on the couple, but overall, these are the steps to a healthy relationship.
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