Three years ago, I was sitting on the porch with my boyfriend. We had been dating for two years at that point, and inevitably the “living together” conversation had started taking place.
I wanted to live with my boyfriend. The truth was that I had already lived with several romantic partners prior, and it hadn’t ended well. Although I believed (and still do) that living together is essential to learn if you are genuinely compatible with someone, I was very nervous.
I was nervous that if we moved in together, my boyfriend would become complacent and unwilling to propose when I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I wanted to get married (to him!) within the following couple of years.
A relationship timeline doesn’t need to pertain to marriage. But what if you expect a commitment from someone to be monogamous within a few months? What if you have been dating for five years and still haven’t met your partner’s family?
A strict timeline that is set in stone most likely won’t be warranted or necessary. Laying out a high-level timeline, on the other hand, can be helpful to both parties in the relationship for the following reasons.
It provides clarity on the expectations for a mutually healthy partnership.
During my first year of college, I met a nice guy named Rob.
Rob came to my table during lunch one afternoon, and we started talking. He asked me out for dinner, I agreed, and we quickly began dating.
After a few weeks, we planned a trip to his hometown, where he introduced me to his family. On that trip, Rob told me that he wanted to have a young family, that he liked me, and that he would want to be engaged within the year.
To say I was shocked was an understatement, but laying out his expectations was beneficial. I had no intentions of getting married for many years, and it was apparent we were on a completely different life path. Rob and I parted ways, and he ended up dating and marrying one of his best friends a couple of years later.
By providing information on what he expected from a relationship, Rob allowed me to decide and leave. He quickly found someone else who wanted a similar timeline for their future.
It can help move along the needle when one partner is more forward-thinking.
Albeit nervous, I did end up moving in with my boyfriend. However, before deciding, I ensured my intentions and what I wanted out of our partnership were loud and clear.
“I would like to be engaged before I turn thirty.”
I knew that we would have been together for over three and a half years by the time I reached that age. My request wasn’t unrealistic or unreasonable. We had both talked about marriage, and the cards were already on the table.
My timeline was specific in that instance because, to be frank, my boyfriend wasn’t great at time management. Typically he didn’t make set-in-stone plans more than a month ahead. His focus and day-to-day obligations fell to his demanding workload, and planning typically wasn’t at the forefront of his mind.
Handing him a specific timeline on a platter helped him plan for an outcome that would happen anyway but on a timetable that worked for both of us.
Everyone is different but setting expectations is beneficial for any couple.
Last year I married the love of my life.
We had been dating for over five years, and it was the best decision I’d ever made.
My husband later commented, “Wow, I’m so glad you gave me a timeline because it worked perfectly with our life paths.
If we had waited another year or two, all of our closest friends would have started their families and already had babies/very young children.
Would that have been a dealbreaker? No, but having the night of our lives and dancing with our friends without worrying about childcare happened because of the realistic timeline I had set from the beginning.
Do you need a written relationship timeline to make things work with your partner? Not at all. Every couple is completely different, and their relationship will look further.
Be clear about what you expect and need from a partnership. Taking action will ensure that you are both on the same page about what you want for the future.
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