Why timing is so important in new (and aging) relationships.
The questions I get asked most frequently are probably about timing in relationships. Sometimes we need to know if we're on track. Typically my answer is always the same — follow your feel good. If it feels bad, the timing is probably off track. However, sometimes general guidelines can be helpful. So, here is a basic timeline for relationship milestones. Read on to learn the specific questions people often ask and my honest answers.
1. How long should I wait to have sex?
Until you know the other person isn't having sex with someone else. In most cases, you don't want to be shagging someone who's shagging someone else, it's harder to find a feel good there. If you really don't care then so be it, but be very honest with yourself. I've heard the guideline advise eight weeks. I like it. Bottom line here is this: don't have sex until you feel like it, and then wait just a little longer.
2. How long before we should meet each other’s family and friends?
Three months, give or take. If his family lives across the country or the world, that's different. He may introduce you to his friends right away, but, if his mom lives across town and you aren't meeting her after several weeks, that's an indicator of his interest. The exception is children. If he has kids, he may not introduce you for a very long time, and that is appropriate.
3. When should we be using the "L" word?
Six to nine months. To be honest, you have to really know someone to know if you love them or not and that takes time. Women get really attached to the phrase "I love you." If it comes too soon, it's not meaningful. If it doesn't show up after you know each other really well, that means something too.
4. How long before we start talking about the future?
By 9-12 months you should be having some conversations that are daydream-oriented about some aspect of a future together. This kind of daydreaming isn't too serious. However, you should be hearing some indication that you can see aspects of a shared future experience.
5. How long before we move in together or get engaged?
A year is a good amount of time. By the time you've got through four full seasons you should both know if you're in it for the long haul. If you don't know, that probably means no, for one reason or another. In most cases, that's not personal. Perfect timing is variable for every person and marriage can't be rushed.
6. How long should I wait for a proposal?
If you really want to get married, don't wait longer than two years. There is a diminishing point of return on investment at about two years. Any longer than that and you've invested way too much to leave. If he hasn't proposed yet statistics show odds aren't in your favor. If you are loving the relationship and marriage isn't a make it or break it deal for you, there is no reason to end it. However, if you want to get married, that's ok too and he might not be your husband.
Bare in mind, I have broken every one of these rules myself with varying outcomes. Some I wish I'd followed more closely. In other cases I'm glad I threw caution to the wind and followed my heart. Nothing is predictable when two hearts collide. You have to follow your instincts, but that means really listening to your gut. If you have a feeling something should be different, don't ignore that. You are the architect of your own destiny. Just remember — when it comes to love, timing is just as important as chemistry.
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