So your first few dates have gone extremely well, and now you and your new sweetie are in that stage where you’re “official” even though your relationship is still fresh and new. That’s great. Being in a new relationship is an amazing and fun stage to be in. But while you may want to rush through the courtship to get to the more established stage of your relationship, fight the urge and put on the brakes for a moment. There are a lot of steps on the new relationship timeline before you get to be an established couple and really start your happily ever after.
From talking about money and covering exes, to meeting the family and moving in together, here are nine key points in the new relationship timeline.
Discuss sexual history
On the 2nd date
It’s important to talk about your sexual history with your partner and get a sense of your chemistry, experience, and how you’ll be together.
“This is something that should be addressed early in the dating process,” says licensed marriage and couples therapist, Dr. Paul Hokemeyer. “By the second date you should start to discuss the overarching themes of your sexual history. It’s not necessary to get into the weeds here, a general survey of the terrain will suffice.” He also adds that people shouldn’t feel obligated to tell their “number” so feel free to keep some things private.
After 3 dates
People view sex differently based on their own beliefs and what they feel comfortable with, but for many couples having sex is a big part of getting closer early on in a relationship.
“Over the course of three dates you can get a good sense of who your partner is and if it’s worth taking the next step and having sex with them,” explains Hokemeyer.
After 3 to 5 dates
“After 3 to 5 dates you’ll know who you’re dealing with and if you want to move more deeply into the relationship,” says Hokemeyer. “Sleeping over is an investment in that relationship. You’re giving up your privacy and exposing yourself in your glamorous and unglamorous bits. To do this, you’ll need to have a level of trust that your vulnerabilities will not be violated.”
See Each Other’s Homes
DON’T wait more than 1 month
You can learn a lot about a person’s personality, taste, and habits from how they live. “Our living environments also speak volumes about who we are as people,” says Hokemeyer. “Are they messy or neat as a pin? Are they filled with books or bongs? The physical features of a home reveal great information about a person’s psyche.”
Meet Each Other’s Friends
After 1 month
“You can learn a lot about a person from their friends,” says Hokemeyer. “Our peer group reflects back our own personality. They speak volumes about who and what we value in the world.”
It’s also important to not do this too soon as you don’t want to be influenced by friends’ opinions while you’re still getting to know your new partner.
After 1 month
“Money, and the host of issues surrounding it, is a leading cause of stress and break ups. That’s why it’s critically important to understand your partner’s views on money early in the game,” says Hokemeyer.
But don’t do it TOO soon, especially if you’re unsure about the other person, says financial education manager at CredAbility, Deatra Riley. “Your finances are very personal, and this could be a short-term relationship. You might not want someone to have that knowledge yet.”
Do Work Functions Together
After 2 months
It’s not as serious as meeting family members, but Hokemeyer says that introducing a dating partner to colleagues does involve a level of commitment that’s important for a relationship.
“It will give you an insight into how they are viewed by their colleagues,” he says. “This is important data. It will show you their potential for success in the realm of the world outside your relationship.”
Meet Each Other’s Family
After 3 months
It’s okay to put this one off for a few months as family introductions are significant.
“They indicate the relationship is serious. They also give you great insight into your partner’s family of origin and issues that will come into your relationship,” says Hokemeyer.
Lyss Stern, parenting expert and CEO of divamoms.com adds, “I would highly recommend that before bringing anybody home to meet the parents that they know this could be somebody that they are serious about and are having a REAL relationship with.”
After 6 months
Even though, according to an Expedia-GfK survey, 30% of people would take a trip with someone they’ve only been dating for 1 to 3 months, remember that traveling together can make or break a relationship.
“Traveling, although it’s exciting and fun, can be stressful. It can also be pure fantasy. Before you take this step, you’ll need to get a good idea of your mate’s character. During the six months leading up to your trip, watch how they handle stress, the day to day responsibilities of life and their capacity to handle disagreements in your relationship,” says Hokemeyer.
Move In Together
After 1 year
This may be one of the biggest steps for a new couple right before marriage. According to a survey by rent.com, 37% of people agreed that six months to a year into dating is a good time to move in together.
“Moving in together is when the rubber hits the road,” says Hokemeyer. “You’ll need to have a good idea of how stable the tires are. Don’t rush it. Also remember it’s much easier to move in than to move out. Moving in is full of hope and promise. Moving out is full of regrets and failures.”
Wherever you are on the new relationship timeline, it’s good to remember that every relationship is different and moves and grows at its own pace. It’s good to keep in mind the time it takes to build enough intimacy and understanding to meet each other’s friends or discuss finances, but at the end of the day it’s about what’s comfortable for the two of you. If you’re both happy taking a weekend trip after five dates, then go for it. If you need more than three months before you’re ready to introduce your significant other to your mom, then take that time.
If you’re wondering if your relationship is on schedule, the answer is in how you feel about it. Are you getting what you need? Is your partner? If the answer is yes, then chances are you’re on the right track.