One person’s love journey is going to have a completely different timeline than another’s. Nobody besides you knows what the right pacing is for your relationship. There are a lot of ideas out there about when things “should” happen, like when you “should” move in together, have sex, meet the parents and so much more. Everyone has those friends who raise an eyebrow or give a message of caution when they learn that this or that milestone hasn’t yet happened. These manufactured and arbitrary timelines aren’t healthy, and they can pressure some individuals into doing things sooner than they’re ready.
Sometimes, it’s not society pressuring you but your very own partner. Being on a different timeline from your partner can create a lot of stress in a relationship. Some might say that if you’re on different timelines, you’re not meant to be, but that’s a little too cut and dry. Countless couples start off needing slightly different pacing, and eventually finding their rhythm. You probably know a couple just like that who faced some bumps early on over who was or wasn’t ready to take certain steps, and now they’re happily married. It’s okay to be on your own schedule. What’s not okay is having a partner who tries to rush you onto theirs. Here are things a partner should never rush you to do.
With a lot of couples doing the deed within the first few dates these days, this might not be an issue for many. However, if you’re someone for whom sex is something you reserve for committed relationships, nobody should convince you otherwise. Sex does complicate things. It blurs your vision. It can create a false sense of connection to someone with whom you might not be compatible. Some people just like to wait on this. And nobody should ever rush you into having sex with them. Anybody who is looking for something real is willing to wait. After all, if things work out, you’ll have your entire lives to have sex.
Share Trauma or Personal Information
Everyone has had events in their lives that shaped them. Some of those events were painful and difficult to talk about. And while certain individuals are very at peace with opening up about these to anyone who will listen, others reserve that information for people they’ve known for a long time and with whom they’ve developed trust. So just because someone you’re dating is ready to tell you their life story on the first date doesn’t mean they can pressure you to do the same. Don’t let anyone tell you that the only way they can know you like them is if you share your deepest secrets – that’s manipulation.
Intermingling finances can happen in a number of ways, but it’s always a big step. It can look like lending your partner a thousand dollars. It can look like purchasing a car together to share. It can look like starting a business together or opening an investment account together. It can look like opening a joint credit card. It’s not just money – it’s so much more. Once you intermingle finances, the habits and values of the other person impact your life greatly. You can be on the hook for their missteps. Keep in mind that some married couples never comingle their finances because they never want to argue about money. That’s okay, too. Your money is your money and no partner should ever rush you into mixing your money up with theirs.
You’ll always remember your last years as a single person living without a partner – maybe with friends or roommates – fondly. It’s a special time when you get to know yourself and develop a sense of independence. It’s a time when you get just be weird and live how you want without considering anyone else’s preferences. Once it’s over, it’s over for good (unless you get divorced). And once it’s over, you have a lifetime to live with your partner. So nobody should rush you into moving in together. If there’s one thing worse than a breakup it’s a breakup of a couple who lives together. Cohabitation is not something to enter into lightly because if it doesn’t work out, there’s nothing light about that.
Say, “I Love You”
In an ideal world, both people would feel ready to say, “I love you” at the exact same time. But, that rarely happens. Some people give out the words, “I love you” rather freely. In fact, some people say it to every person they date over three months. Others might only tell a couple of people in their lifetime that they love them. Like sex, you decide how much weight the act of saying, “I love you” carries. It can be uncomfortable if one person says it far before the other is ready – or before the other feels it. But nobody should rush you to say it or make you feel guilty if you haven’t said it. All that does is sour the experience once you do say it.
Publicize Your Relationship
The question of whether or not to publicize a relationship or when to publicize it is a relatively new one. Before social media, “publicizing” a relationship basically meant being physically affectionate in public. It did not mean posting photos of your love for thousands of strangers to see. Now, people have to decide where they stand on this, and two people in the same relationship can feel differently about it. Not everybody wants strangers online to look at personal, intimate moments. Not everybody wants their coworkers or professional contacts to see photos of them kissing their partner. So long as you’ve made your partner a part of your life, having introduced him IRL to those who matter to you, they should know you’re proud of the relationship. Nobody should force you to post on social media about it.
Sharing Passwords, Keys and Other Access
This act, like comingling finances, can open up a can of worms that’s difficult to close. As an individual, you are entitled to privacy. That means privacy of bank accounts, devices, credit cards, Netflix and all of the many things for which today we have digital and hard copy keys. You don’t need to show your love by sharing your passwords and giving out copies of keys. It might even be a red flag if someone is making you feel guilty for not sharing these things. The most natural way to share such access is to give it, without being asked. But if the other person demands that access, something might be off. There could be jealousy issues, paranoia or even bad intent.
Meeting Your Family
For some, introducing a person they’re dating to their family is no big deal. If your family is also your social circle and you get together for barbecues and hangouts every weekend, then maybe you often bring whomever you’re dating around them. However, for others, there isn’t that same ease of socializing with their family. There can be a lot of anxiety around bringing a partner to meet their family. Perhaps it is a big deal and there is a precedent in the family at large that says if you’re bringing a partner around, you’re going to marry that person. Just because your partner eagerly introduces you to their family early doesn’t mean you have to do the same.
Any of these major steps like moving in together or getting married should never be rushed. And what’s the rush, anyways? The idea is that, once you do these, it’s forever, so there is plenty of time to enjoy the transition once it happens. There is very little (if not zero) harm in waiting to make sure it’s the right fit before getting married. There can be massive damage caused by rushing and marrying the wrong person. The cons of rushing marriage far outweigh the pros. In fact, there are no pros. If someone feels confident in your bond, they shouldn’t stress it if you want to wait.