5 Reasons You Don't Always Need To Follow A Typical Relationship Timeline

by Anjali Sareen Nowakowski

Relationships, especially when they are the right relationships, are wonderful. It's great to have a partner who loves and supports you and wants to spend life with you. But what about the so-called "typical relationship timeline"? You know the one I'm talking about. People are supposed to date, fall in love, meet the families, get engaged, get married, move in together, have babies... and so on. But what happens when your relationship doesn't line up with that timeline?

Well, the honest truth is that absolutely nothing happens! We work ourselves up to be so stressed out about relationships needing to hit certain markers that we don't even realize those markers don't mean anything. In fact, the best relationship I've ever been in (my current marriage) happened because I ignored all the typical relationship timeline markers.

My husband and I got married within eight weeks of our first date, and we have a marriage and relationship better than I could have ever imagined, so naturally, I think prescribed relationship timelines are absolutely stupid. There are lots of good reasons to ignore all the traditional "wisdom" on relationships and instead go your own route. Here are five things to consider when deciding to ditch that "typical" relationship timeline:

1. You May Not Want The Same Things At All

One of the best reasons not to follow a typical relationship timeline is because, well, you might not want a typical relationship! What if you don't believe in monogamy and want to have an open relationship forever? What if you want to be with someone forever, but don't actually want to tie the knot legally? What if you have a terrible relationship with your family and never want to introduce your partner to them?

Monogamy, marriage, and family ties are all part of a so-called typical relationship timeline, but it doesn't work so well if you don't actually want those things. And if you don't, that's awesome! It's always better to march to the beat of your own drum.

The truth is that there probably is no such thing as a typical relationship timeline, as much as we build it up in our own heads. We all do things at different times, so trying to meet some illusory objective doesn't make sense.

2. Those Are Other People's Rules

When did anything good ever come from doing something because someone else told you to? I'm going to go out on a limb and guess almost never. The best experiences in life happen because we found them and we want them, naturally and organically.

Trying to follow a relationship timeline just means you are trying to fit yourself into the mold of someone else. It may be because it's what your family wants or because it's what you think you should be doing based on television and movies. But don't be a follower. Be a leader and write your own rules for your life.

3. They Keep People Tied To The Idea That Relationships Are The Most Important Things

When we think life is about partners meeting, falling in love, getting married, having babies, and living happily ever after, it keeps us tied to the idea that relationships are the most important things in life and/or that you need relationships to be happy.

Neither of those things is true. While love is great, of course, the truth is, true happiness comes from inside yourself, as a sole, unique, fabulous human being.

When we try to follow other people's relationship timelines, we rob ourselves of the ability to experience true happiness — without a partner. It starts to feel like we're suffocating under the weight of relationship expectations and that is certainly not worth it.

4. You May Want To Follow Your Passion

If you feel that you love someone as soon as you meet them, is it wise not to say it or is it just fear? Well, based on my relationship story, I'd say it's just fear. We're conditioned with the idea that we're supposed to do things at exactly the right times, and if we don't do them then (whether it's too early or too late), we ruin our chances of future success.

My husband and I got married very quickly, and by all "typical" relationship accounts, our marriage should be a disaster. We didn't know each other at all when we got married, we are from totally different backgrounds, we had never taken a big trip together or spent a lot of time with each other's families... the list goes on.

But here we are, having broken all the rules and happy AF every single day that we found each other and went with our passion. So when you feel something, go after it. Don't let the idea of a "typical relationship timeline" weigh you down.

5. It Doesn't Work

One of the biggest reasons not to strive for a "typical relationship timeline" (even though now we know that doesn't exist) is because, well, it doesn't work.

How many people do you know who thought they "had it all" after following some ludicrous timeline in their heads ("OK, now we're dating, soon we'll be engaged, a year later we'll get married, two years later we'll have kids...") only to have it all fall apart in the end? Following an arbitrary timeline for your life in your head won't make you happy, but discovering your own true happiness will. In fact, trying to follow such a rigid line might just push people away.

As you can see, there really is no "typical relationship timeline" that is worth trying to match up to. Things happen for different people at different times. It's best to embrace it and realize that it'll all work out for you exactly as it is supposed to.

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