I recently came across an article outlining the "proper" timeline of a relationship, offering advice on how to "keep you on track". There's a track? There's an officially mandated schedule that all relationships must adhere to? I must have missed the memo, I thought to myself, scratching my head and contemplating my relationships passed. My friends and I are all in that bittersweet spot of getting ready to graduate from our 20s and having a little bit of senioritis. We're at the confluence of: I'm so sick of da klerb, I want to move somewhere quiet and go to bed at 10 p.m. and I want to be young forever, please Father Time, don't let me be 30!
This internal conflict and confusion about where we want to be in time has serious effects on our relationships. We may want them to move like the speed of light because we love pinning engagement rings and picking out baby names, but we also want to be kids forever. Eventually, one gravitational force will win, sooner than later. But during the cloudy time where we're trying to figure it out, our parents — who are used to a different kind of relationship time line with less wiggle room for childish nostalgia — are waiting for us to hit milestones within our relationships so they can sleep at night.
Unfortunately for our parents, times have changed. Relationships don't fly at the same speed anymore. Our generation is independent, explorative, truth-seeking, and patient when we have to be. These are 13 milestones you shouldn't be freaking out over hitting before 30 — you'll get there when you get there (if you want to get there at all).
Meeting Each Other's Friends
Meeting your partner's friends is a big step. By doing so, you're being incorporated into their life outside of your life together. It's a step that says "you're going to be a part of my life for a while". If you haven't gotten there yet, don't sweat it. It's a bigger deal than people make it out to be. You'll meet each other's friends when you're ready to blend worlds.
Going Away Together
While your relationship might be great at home, going away together will definitely put pressure on it. Taking a trip is like taking a test. It's moving the relationship out of its comfort zone and seeing how it performs. The pressure can be stressful and if you're not ready to put your relationship out there in the unknown, that's fine. Wait until you're ready. There will be plenty of time for trips.
Saying "I Love You"
The ability to be vulnerable and honest with a partner is not the same experience for everyone. For some, it takes a long time before being able to feel comfortable and safe expressing their feelings. You and your partner might not be on the same page, that's fine. You'll say it when you're ready and you'll hear it when they're ready. What's important is that you mean it when you say it, not that you stick to some arbitrary schedule of milestones.
Meeting Each Other's Families
For some couples, this is no big deal. For other, more traditional couples, meeting the family is a huge deal — and a potentially really stressful event. Involving your family in the relationship is important, but building a healthy relationship at your own pace, is more important.
Spending The Holidays Together
When you spend your whole life having holidays alone with your family, it can be a strange adjustment to either skip out on some or show up with a plus one to others. You and your partner might not be ready to shake up the holidays just yet. Don't let prying relatives get to you. Things were different in their time.
Opening Up About Past Relationships
Discussing the past with your partner can be painful or uncomfortable. This is something you might want to save for later — for when you're at a stable point in your relationship where you feel like you can really trust each other. If you discuss this before you really get to know each other, it can be exploitative.
Giving someone your Seamless password is a big deal. It says you trust each other. It says you plan on being a part of each other's lives. If you're not ready to give each other the password for your phones and security codes for your buildings, it's fine, too.
Exchanging keys is a huge step. It opens your lives to each other, and leaves room for candid, unplanned interactions. If you're almost 30 but don't feel like making a copy of your keys for your partner, don't. The whole point is that it's an act of trust and comfort. So if you don't feel it, wait until you do. Otherwise you'll be totally stressed that someone has keys, rather than excited.
Moving In Together
In some cities, it makes sense for couples to move in together who might not otherwise be ready to, in terms of their commitment — it's more about finance and ease. But if you can afford to live separately, do so for as long as you find necessary. It's the last time you'll ever live alone again if the relationship lasts, so try to savor it. You're not behind if you're not together 24/7 ... you're just doing your own thing.
It might come up, if you've been together for along time. It might not. Maybe your partner wants to totally surprise you. Maybe your partner wants to discuss it with you. Either way, 30 is the new 20, so relax — it's not a big deal if you haven't breeched the subject yet.
Talk Of Children
Listen, I get it, it's important to discuss children at some point because for many couples, it's a deal breaker if you're not on the same page. But you've still got time at 30 and you've still got options. It's important to mention it to gauge what you want, but there's no need to start planning just yet.
Sometimes it's fun to talk about the future. Beach houses. Babies. Trips to Egypt. You know, it's half play pretend and half wishful thinking. But if you haven't had a serious sit down conversation about where the relationship is heading, don't fret. Bring it up if it's bothering you, but don't let anyone tell you the conversation should have happened already just because you're 30.
Making A Commitment
The worst way to go in to a marriage is with a tapping foot and frustrations. Every website will tell you another age that you're supposed to be married by, but none of them are correct, because marriage is different for every couple. You'll commit to your partner when you're both ready for it and when it makes sense for your lives. The memories scrapbook will look significantly less impressive with this wedding story: "We got married because ... we were 30."