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Relationship Timeline: The 16 Possible Phases of a Relationship

All relationships and dating timelines move at different paces, but these are the most common and accepted phases of a relationship timeline.

Relationship Timeline

Think back to all of your relationships. They all started and developed. Maybe some moved faster than others. Maybe you got serious before meeting each other’s parents or slept together right off the bat. These are the parts of dating and relationship timelines.

There is no right or proper way to have a relationship. There are most common or accepted paths, but these phases of a relationship timeline can be in this order or any order and still work.

Each relationship goes through different stages at different times. And while some couples can stay in certain phases for longer than others, most will through these stages of a dating timeline at some point.

You may think it sounds silly that a relationship timeline exists, and well it sort of is. But, knowing the phases of this timeline can help you ensure you’re on track and moving forward together rather than drifting apart or standing still. [Read: How to move forward in a relationship]

Why relationships need to grow and change

Your relationship will never be the same as it was when you first began dating. Even if you keep the excitement alive, as you get to know each other better you become more comfortable. You let your walls down, become vulnerable, and really connect.

This is a vital part of any relationship. No matter what relationship timeline you’re on, your relationship will progress. It could be fast or slow, but it will happen.

You’re not supposed to stay in the same stage of a relationship. You need to grow and change as a couple. Without moving along the dating timeline you are essential coworkers in life rather than partners.

Relationships naturally progress as you move along the timeline in which ever order suits you. [Read: 9 relationship stages all couples go through]

The relationship timeline

If you look back on all your relationships, you may realize that not all of them will have followed this timeline. You may have hit some of these steps but not all. You may have went through them in another order.

That is all okay. Each relationship, no matter its dating timeline offers you a unique experience. Sure, maybe the healthier relationships or at least the calmer ones follow closer to this relationship timeline, but everyone is different.

Although these steps and stages are crucial for getting to know your partner as a whole and introducing them to your world, they don’t have to follow this timeline perfectly. This relationship timeline should be a general guideline for a health relationship, not an instruction manual. [Read: 34 ways to strengthen the bond in your relationship]

1. The initial interest

This is when you first notice that the other person is someone you want to know more about. You basically get a crush on them initially. This could be that first dating app message or when you start asking their friends if they’re single.

All those butterflies and feel-good vibes start rolling in. This is when you aren;t sure what’s going to haen, if anything, but it sure is exciting. Nearly every dating timeline has this stage. [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 may have been flirting or realized you are at the same point in your lives after texting a bit.

You know them well enough to want a date with them, 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 the third date. This can come at different times for every couple, but this kiss is a powerful and even magical moment. With this kiss, you see how compatible you two are physically, 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, this depends on a lot of things like your age, your comfort elevel, and even you preferences, so this step in the relationship timeline may happen much later or earlier.

There is nothing wrong with having sex on the first date or after marriage. No matter when you two decide to take this step, at some point most relationship timelines will incorporate intimacy.

5. Sleeping over

Sleeping over may follow the first time you have sex, but not always. Maybe you’re ready to sleep together but not to *SLEEP* together. That can be much more intimate and vulnerable than sex.

Or, maybe you live far away and have work tomorrow. Either way, at some point you’ll probably have a sleep over, even if you’re not having sex. This really helps you bond. Feeling comfortable enough to fall alseep next to someone and wake up next to them without freshly brushed hair and teeth is a very connecting experience. It can take you from dating to more than that. [Read: Sleeping over – How to make things run smoothly]

6. In a relationship

Once you’ve had a couple of sleepovers and have spent a decent amount of time together it may be time to make things official. Of course, not everyone needs a label, but this can be a good time to have that conversation.

Are you monogomous? Are you headed into the future together? Is this going to be long-term? What are you both looking for? If you’re on the same age this might be when you become Facebook offical and start telling people you have a boyfriend or girlfriend.

7. Meeting the friends

Now that you two are officially together, it’s time to meet your friends. Depending on how you know this person, you may already know their friends. But, this is when you start inviting each other on double dates or to group outings.

You’ve been talking to your friends about this person, but now they get to meet. Now, maybe your first date was a double date and they’ve already met. Whenever this time comes is fine, but it should happen at some point on the relationship timeline, or there is a red flag lurking around the corner.

Meeting each other’s friends really lets you see a new side to your partner and pushes the dating timeline along. Without this step there is often something hidden.

8. 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 slow down, and you’re left in a comfortable norm.

There is nothing wrong with this and the honeymoon stage can come and go, but usually at this point your find comfort in each other rather than nerves. [Read: How long does the honeymoon phase last?]

9. Getting comfortable

When the honeymoon phase ends, you get really comfortable. This is when you get into a sort of routine with them.

You may stop getting up before them to brush you teeth and then crawl back into bed to kiss them good morning. Maybe you even fart in front of each other or talk openly about your IBS.

Essentially, you are no longer afraid to scare each other off because you are in deep enough to trust each other with even the less than attractive parts of your life. You know them really well, you’re happy with them, and you feel great being yourself around them.

10. Meet the parents

You would usually be dating fora while before you get to meet your parents. Of course, this changes with age. In high school, college, or if you live with your parents this will happen sooner, and that’s fine.

But this meeting the parents moment isn’t a quick “hi,” but rather sharing a meal or really talking with them. This step in the dating timeline lets you know if you fit into each others’ family lives. Can you see yourself spending the holidays with these people?

If you’re not close with your parents this may not come until much later, but if ou have any sort of relationship with your parents this is a big step in a relaitonship. [Read: 7 definite signs it’s time to meet the parents]

11. Things get serious

Now a decent amount of time has probably passed. It could be months or years. For some, it could be weeks if things are progessing quickly. At this point you’re talking about the future. You’ve probably said I love you, and you feel safe with each other.

This would be when you start discussing if you both want kids or marriage. This would be when you talk about what you see down the line and make sure you both want the same things before getting even more serous.

12. 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 what your budgets allow for.

However, it’s definitely something that shouldn’t be rushed into. Living together means you don’t get the breaks from one another you are used to. This is when you start to see the little annoyances or ways you differ that you didn’t see before.

Talking about it before doing it is an important step to ensure you are both willing to put the effort in to go through that adjustment. [Read: 16 signs you’re ready to move in together]

13. 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 is a big step in any relationship timeline. Not only are you making a big move emotionally and physically, but you are also likely combining your finances in some capacity.

Moving in together requires a lot of trust and compromises. If you can do this and feel content and even excited with each other you are in a good place. [Read: 15 things to know before moving in together]

14. Engagement

Some people will get engaged before moving in together. Others won’t want to get engaged at all. That is totally fine as well.

An engagement is a promise of marriage and your future lives together. It is not something to be entered into lightly. It should also only happen after you’ve dicussed your future.

Do you want kids? What does marriage mean to you? What sacrafrices are you willing to make? How will you handle the difficulties that will surely arise? What about moving and having parents move in with you?

15. Marriage

If you’ve made it this far, marriage is obviously the next step after an engagement. But, if you plan on having a wedding bigger than going to the courthouse, there is a lot of stress to come.

Working through those things together can be shard or it can be exciting and even fun. Unlike what many people say, not much changes from engagement to marriage. You still live together and share your lives, but now maybe one of you has a different last name and you’re both wearing rings on your left hands. [Read: Surprising truths about the first year of marriage]

16. 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. This ends the dating timeline and is the final step of the relationship timeline.

That doesn’t mean you stop growing together and changing, but now you are in it together. This isn’t the end, but the beginning of so much to come. This would be when many people have kids if they choose to although that isn’t necessary and many people will do that before marriage, which of course is also totally wonderful.

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 and now come the rest of your lives together.

 [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 most of these steps will happen throughout a relationship to help a couple grow together.

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