The New Relationship Timeline: 12 Stages You Should Know

dating timeline
  • DatingRing
  • April 10, 2023

Is there a relationship timeline? Or dating timeline? Well, yes. Each couple has their own, though, so how it looks greatly varies. However, the steps in the timeline are usually the same — it’s just the order that slightly varies depending on what different couples feel are the most important things to do first when getting involved with someone.

Below you will find the “new relationship timeline.” Or maybe we should say the “going from dating to relationship timeline.” In other words, different steps to consider when you start dating someone. You can ponder on what you consider the most important and in which order you’d like to see them happening.


Two days-two weeks

With online dating there’s a new step—the first meeting after chatting online. Some people want this to happen ASAP so that they don’t waste time chatting to someone who may disappear before meeting up, or turn out to be vastly different from what they imagined.

If you’re someone who prefers seeing if there’s chemistry in real life ASAP, then schedule a simple coffee sooner rather than later. You can simply tell the person “I love getting to know new people, but I always prefer face-to-face. You seem interesting, so I’d love to grab a quick coffee to see if we’ll get along :)” A coffee is a no-pressure meeting—it can be as short as 30 minutes and you can make sure you let them know it’s a quick meeting because you have something scheduled afterwards. Should things go really well, you can always cancel the other appointment, but it might be worth your while to leave your date wanting more…

If you like to know “the basics" before meeting someone, then chat to them and ask the questions you find important. Once answered, meet up. Or arrange a phone call or video chat. The important thing to remember is that usually people will be different in real life—even from chatting over video.

Also, remember that most first impressions don’t last. Either you’re completely overwhelmed by attraction and miss out on the finer points, or you can’t see beyond their nervosity on a first date. If any doubt, set time aside for a second date. You might be surprised at what you discover.

First Date

2-7 days

If you met online, the first meeting can hardly be called a first date. First step is very important in new dating timeline. It’s likely to take place two to five days after the first meeting.

If you already know someone, then, of course, a first date can happen any time. Likely within a week of the two of you starting to flirt with one another.

Discussing If You Want a Serious Relationship

1st Date

When going on a first date you aren’t always sure what your date is looking for—casual dating or something more serious. Many people are also open to some casual dating while finding out if there’s the potential for something serious. After all, it usually takes a good couple of months before you know if you’re looking for something serious with one another—it takes a while to get to know someone. [Read: 10 Important Questions to Ask a Sugar Daddy]

It’s important to make your intentions clear as soon as possible—otherwise there’s heartache ahead if you’re looking for different things.

dating timeline

First Kiss

1st-3rd Date

Many people appreciate if someone waits for a couple of dates to get physical. However, if the tension is there and the moment is there, then it doesn’t really matter when the first kiss happens. It just needs to feel right and, if you’re looking for something more than a physical connection, not move into sex immediately. You need to let the tension and romance build, as well as the emotional connection, before taking things further.

Discussing Your Sexual History and Future

2nd-4th date

Depending on when you wish to have sex, the talk about your sexual history, STDs, and condoms/the pill should happen pretty early on. Most adults living in the Western world who are not strictly religious tend to have sex within one-five dates, most landing around the third-fifth date. As when to have sex is often also a topic, that tends to be the opening question that leads to a conversation about your sexual history, your take on prevention, and any STD tests you’ve done, or would like your partner to do.

This can also lead to a rather hot conversation surrounding what you like in the bedroom…

Getting Clear on Life Goals

1st-5th date

You’re not going to have a serious relationship with someone who is planning to move abroad unless you’re willing to go with them. Or with someone who wants to live in the countryside when you prefer the city. Likewise, if you don’t want children and they do, it’s not going to work out. Or if they want to raise their kids at a military academy while you want them enrolled at Waldorf schools. Understanding someone’s life goals is therefore important.

Getting to know one another is a process, but most potential couples have conversations around the big stuff pretty early on. Not as an interrogation, but rather conversations about hopes, dreams, values, and so forth.

Seeing Each Other’s Homes

Three to five dates

This tends to happen once you start sleeping together, so after three to five dates if you don’t wish to hold off on sex. Even if you wish to hold off on sex, seeing someone’s home after about a month of dating (but not before you feel secure alone with them—if any doubt, keep seeing them in public) is usually wise because it will give you a clue as to how they live their lives.

Meeting Each Other’s Friends

About a month

This varies from person to person and country to country. In Europe, it’s very common to hang out with friends in a group as opposed to go on dates at first and let that develop into something more. In America, people tend to date for a while before introducing the friends. Either way, the proper “introduction” as a couple tends to happen within a month. [Read: Does He Still Love Me?]

Meeting Each Other’s Families

One to six months

This greatly depends on the kind of relationship someone has with their family and the importance they put on introducing someone. For some, family dinners is an open affair and anyone can attend. For others, introducing someone to their family won’t happen until they’re really certain about the person they’re dating. It’s akin to agreeing to a long-term commitment.

Discussing Finances

Five to ten dates, or one to three months

Before you become “exclusive” with someone, you need to discuss finances if you see a future together. The big talk can happen further down the line, but you need to gauge where they are at and where they are heading as soon as possible.

What a Serious Relationship Looks Like to You

Five to ten dates, or one to three months

This entirely depends on the speed you’re going at. If you’re looking to go exclusive pretty fast, then you need to have this conversation sooner rather than later. Just because you’re both looking for a committed relationship doesn’t mean you want the same thing out of a relationship. Are you both looking to find someone to live together with? Get married with? Have children with? How do you see the ideal week, or weekend, as a couple? How much time do you spend together and apart? What does a good date night look like to you? What are the things you value in life… [Read: How to Flirt with a Girl Over Text or Face to Face]

This is similar to discussing life goals, just a bit more focused on the relationship itself.

Going Exclusive

One to three months

Some go exclusive when they start sleeping with someone. Others wait until they are certain that this is going to be a very long term committed relationship. Yet others would never sleep with anyone whom they aren’t exclusive with—they want to be exclusive before they get physical.

This also tends to vary from country to country. In Europe many consider themselves naturally exclusive after a couple of dates. In America there needs to be a talk (“the talk”) before going exclusive. And there are people who can date someone for six months, and more, and consider it casual dating.

As going exclusive is a very individual thing, you need to have a talk about it. Preferably around the time you talk about what you’re looking for—something casual, or something more serious. Then, when you feel it’s time to go exclusive, you need to say so to the person whom you are dating.

Going on Weekend Getaways

One-six months

Given the budget allows, most couples aim for a weekend getaway together in one to six months after getting together. Spending a weekend away tends to give you a good glimpse of how someone operates outside of their routine and when under the stress of traveling. Some people even insist on going camping together or doing a workshop together to see how their partner reacts. However, the general idea is to have a nice weekend of bonding—preferably romantic bonding! [Read: 10 Rules for How to Find Love Again]

A weekend getaway also alludes to a certain level of involvement. You’re more serious after your first weekend away!

Going Traveling

Six-twelve months

Going on a full-blown journey with someone allows an even greater insight into how they act when outside their normal comfort zone. It also gives you a glimpse into what’s important for them. For some, the value of a trip comes down to bang for buck. For others, it’s about the overall experience. For yet others, it’s the fact that they can plan everything up front. People have different values and you need to be able to learn to respect each other’s values as a couple.

Naturally, not everyone is into traveling. For some, the idea of going away when one can enjoy local experiences seems like a complete waste. And, at other times, there’s a pandemic and if you get past the first roadblock, you’re lucky!

Moving in Together

Six-eighteen months

It takes a while to get to know someone, but if you’re both serious about the relationship you will likely want to try living together to see if it holds up. Especially if you’re both keen to get married and start a family.

When you want to try moving in together depends on how soon you both wish to get settled, as well as how much time you’ve had as a couple. If you live in different cities, then six months of dating might not have given you enough time to get to know one another. If, on the other hand, you see each other all the time, then six months of dating has allowed the two of you to become close. [Read: When Affairs Turn to Love]

If you’re very young, or you’ve recently split with another partner, you might not be in any hurry to move in together, on the other hand. You might want to “enjoy your freedom” as much as possible. Have alone time. Even if you’re in a committed relationship, there’s nothing saying that you have to live together. It simply often comes as a natural step after you begin camping out at each other’s places. Just remember that everyone’s different. That’s why communicating your wants and needs with each other is so important.

Getting Engaged

One-two years

Again, this depends on the speed you are going at and how you see the natural progression of a relationship. Most couples want to try the waters living together before they commit to getting engaged, others refuse living together with someone whom they are not engaged to.

If the two of you want to start a family as soon as possible, then an engagement is also likely to come sooner rather than later.

Of course, lots of couples don’t want to get married and then this isn’t even on the cards.

Getting Married

Six-eighteen months after getting engaged

Final important dating timeline, most couples want to tie the knot as soon as possible after getting engaged while still leaving enough time to figure out life after marriage. This might mean enough time to plan a party, or enough time to save up money for building a house.

If you’re just looking to do a small celebration with friends or elope, and would like to get married as soon as possible, then there might be much less time between the engagement date and the marriage.

And hey, some couples don’t really get engaged—they just go to Vegas…