Dating – is there a timeline to move to the next phase?


So, you meet someone interesting, swop numbers, start chatting, and after a few dates become a couple. Dating is meant to be fun and spontaneous but at some point you want to know exactly what to expect, should there be a timeline to keep in mind?

By Zukiswa Dlamini

Relationship counsellor, Roman Bright, advises that dating shouldn’t be taken too seriously, but should be more about enjoying the moment instead of pre-empting the future. “No two relationships are the same, and sometimes setting a timeline can rob you of beautiful moments.”

First Date

This is the period where you are getting to know someone. Use this time to figure out if you have anything in common and if you have chemistry between you two.

Topic – Find out their habits, likes and dislikes as well as personal history.  Personal history does not mean digging too much, but someone is likely to give you clues into their life and its dynamics. It’s also likely that they will ask you questions about you. Keep it light, it’s a date not an interview.

Three Months

Reaching the three-month mark means that there is chemistry between you, and that you get along. At this point you should know a little bit more about your new partner. By now a lot of couples have started engaging in some kind of sexual-contact unless they have preferences that dictate otherwise. This period is called the honeymoon stage.

Topic – You should know whether your partner has kids, and what they do for a living. This is also a great time to bring up whether you are exclusive or not. Most people assume that they are the only person in their partner is dating. You may also use this period to start meeting his or her friends

Six Months

While this may be a milestone for young people, it’s a bit less for older couples because they know that six months is not enough time to fully know someone. You may have now noticed things that annoy you about your partner. If you have been spending a lot of time together you might start to feel in love and that they are possibly the one.

Topic – This is a good time to start discussing what both of you want from the relationship, and whether it’s serious or not. Don’t expect to get a definitive answer, both of you are still enjoying getting to know each other and figuring out if this is what you want. There’s no rush, enjoy the phase.

One Year and Beyond

Your first-year milestone gets a lot of attention, and for good reasons. Some relationships do not survive past the lust and honeymoon hormones. It’s a time when you might start talking about moving in together or marriage. By the time your relationship crosses the two-year mark, it’s serious. You will both know each other’s moods, annoying habits, fighting styles and host of other factors that affect your relationship.

Topic – You need to check that you are both still on the same page. Biologically you are both out of the honeymoon phase, so any feelings of feeling in love are rooted in reality than fantasy. You can now make long-term decisions. For example, you can fall pregnant with some soon, only to realise at a later stage that they are irresponsible. Time gives you the chance to know what you are dealing with. While there are no guarantees either way, time helps you gain more information.