How does your relationship measure up?
Sometimes I think I don’t know anything about love – in spite of being married for ten years, surviving a divorce, and finding my way out of an abusive relationship. But if there’s one thing I have learned, it’s that no two relationships look the same. Comparing your relationship milestones to someone else’s is a guaranteed way to make yourself crazy; you just can’t hold up a yardstick to your relationship and judge it by someone else’s standards.
That said, it’s human nature to wonder how we measure up to others. It’s not necessarily a competition (although sometimes it might feel like it, at least a little bit); it’s more than we want the reassurance of feeling like we’re we’re on a path that someone else has cleared for us. We want to have some idea of what’s coming next, what’s expected, and what’s ‘normal.’
So if you’re in a new relationship, or one that seems stuck, the findings from a study done by Match.com may interest you. They asked over 2,000 British daters when they hit certain relationship milestones, or expected to hit them. The results may surprise you…
Just keep in mind, every relationship is different, and the only one who can decide when the right time is to say ‘I love you’ or take any other step forward is you.
Relationship Milestone 1: Doin’ it
About half of those surveyed hopped into bed with a new partner within the first month – 27 per cent had sex a week or two after meeting, and 23 per cent waited a month. As for the other 50 per cent, they’re either waiting less than a week, or more than a month; it’s hard to say. As for those littler things, holding hands and kissing, while 31 per cent said they’d be willing to kiss someone right away, 34 percent would wait a week or two before holding hands. So, people would rather kiss someone than hold their hand? Interesting…
Relationship Milestone 2: Saying ‘I love you’
Sleeping with a new prospect is one thing, but dropping the big ‘I love you’ bomb is another. On average, people said they wait until they’re about five months in to say those three little words (or 144 days, to be exact). And contrary to popular perception, which would have women more eager to declare their love, with men more witholding, a 2011 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that men are actually more likely to say ‘I love you’ first. Sixty-two per cent of people looking back on a previous relationship ad 70 per cent of people in a current relationship said the man was the first to say ‘I love you.’ According to the study, men start thinking about saying it about three months into a relationship, while women aren’t generally ready until about five months in.
Relationship Milestone 3: Meeting each other’s family
About six months in, things start to get serious. This is when people usually introduce each other to their parents, which is a bigger deal than you might think. A 1999 study published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics showed that first impressions have a powerful effect on the quality of future interactions. And a 2010 study published in Personal Relationships indicated that how much your parents approve of your partner has a direct link to how satisfied you’ll feel in your relationship down the road. Your own level of love and commitment is likely to fluctuate along with the support you get from family and friends – so you might want to steer clear of that naysaying relative or friend, for the health of your relationship.
Relationship Milestone 4: Going on vacation together
After about seven months together, most couples start to think about getting away for a few nights, whether it’s hopping on a plane to an exotic locale, or just getting away for a romantic weekend. Traveling together is be a great test of your relationship, as well: how will you handle it when one of you loses your boarding pass in the security line, just for example, or when he prefers to hole up in the hotel when you want to go out exploring? At this point in the relationship, the majority of couples are ready to find out if they can hack it away from home.
Relationship Milestone 5: Getting married
Once they’ve declared their love for each other, met each other’s families, and gone on vacation together, things seem to settle into a status quo for a year or a little more; the average time before people decide to get married is 743 days (that’s just over two years, in case you don’t want to do the math), and then a year after that (1,190 days) they say ‘I do.’ And while everyone is different, there’s actually evidence that waiting much longer than this to walk down the aisle could spell trouble for the longevity of your marriage; a landmark study done by University of Texas professor Ted Huston in 1981 showed that couples who dated for 25 months before getting married were the happiest, while those who waited longer than three years to tie the knot were significantly unhappier, and more likely to divorce. It could be that when couples were hesitant about making a commitment, there was a good reason…
Relationship Milestone 6: Having a baby
First comes love, then comes marriage, the comes the baby in the baby carriage. Yeah, yeah – we all know how it’s supposed to go. And while we don’t want to imply that having a baby is a normal and expected relationship milestone – some people don’t want babies, and that’s perfectly fine – if you do want to have one, the usual timing seems to be around 1,422 days into the relationship. That’s only seven months after the average time people wait to get married, but who’s counting?
Of course, there are always complicating factors in every relationship, and everyone is different. Some people rush into all their milestones after only knowing each other a few weeks or months, while others wait decades, and there’s no guarantee that either one will necessarily lead to a happy – or unhappy – union. The important thing is to listen to your gut, never settle for less than you deserve, and be ready to do the work that it takes to build and nurture a healthy relationship.
Images via wifflegif.com, giphy.com, tumblr.com.
Comment: When did your relationship hit these milestones?
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