The dating process may not be exactly the same for every couple, but a healthy one, or a healthy dating timeline looks something like this in the span of a few months:

First impression > First interaction > Planning to meetup > First date > Post-first date interaction > Planning to meetup again > 2nd date > Sex > 3rd date > Asking to be exclusive > Meet each other’s close friends > 4th date > Saying “I love you” > Go on a short trip together > Meet each other’s family > Move in together > And so on…

If a you feel like their dating partner is taking a long time to get through each step or each step is rushed or even skipped, then they may be in an unhealthy dating timeline. For example, an unhealthy timeline may look like this in the span of a couple weeks:

First impression > First interaction > Saying “I love you” > Sex > Asking to be exclusive > 2nd date > Move in together > Meet each other’s friends

If the you find yourself being the one to rush the process or take it much slower than their partner prefers, you may also be in an unhealthy dating timeline.

Healthy Dating Timeline

A dating timeline is a timeline of events dating partners will go through from their first connection to a committed relationship. A healthy dating timeline is a timeline that provides each person enough time and experiences with one another to make an informed decision to continue dating every step of the way.

The timeline isn’t set in stone, for instance, you don’t have to wait 3 days after the first date before asking for a second date (there are many societal rules like this). A healthy timeline isn’t pre-determined, it changes depending on your or your date’s feelings about whether to take the relationship to the next level. A really fun date where you talked to each other all night may make you both more comfortable to take the next step. While a date where you only had a quick lunch may not be enough.

Unhealthy Dating Timeline

An unhealthy dating timeline makes you feel like you’re pushed to progress down the timeline before you can make an informed decision. Alternatively, you may be the one pushing your dating partner to move faster than they’re comfortable with, leading them to get stuck in the dating process. Or you’re moving slow from your partner’s perspective. Going down an unhealthy dating timeline creates discomfort, disconnection and raises suspicion about ulterior motives or hidden feelings.

As you help your dating progress your connection/relationship with your dating partner, consider what their timeline has been up until the current moment. If it seems rushed, try learning more about the events that occurred before and if they explain why it appears rushed. If there isn’t a good reason why it’s rushed, there may be something more behind her actions.

Possible Causes Of A Fast Unhealthy Timeline

When the timeline is rushed, your partner:

  • Have already decided they’re fully interested or fully not interested
  • Are a narcissist who wants to progress the relationship before they’re found out
  • Have plans to leave the area soon
  • Don’t know social norms well
  • Believe the other is much more desirable/compatible/attractive than they currently believe
  • Are afraid to lose the other if they got to know their real selves
  • Acting out of fear that they’re losing the partner’s interest
  • Feels entitled to special treatment
  • Lacking personal boundaries or the ability to enforce them
  • Anxiety
  • Overly preoccupied with how the partner feels about them

Possible Causes Of A Slow Unhealthy Timeline

When the timeline is slowed your or your partner either:

  • Have something in their personal lives that is taking their attention away from dating
  • Distracted by other romantic interests, possibly ones they prefer more than the current partner
  • Running up a limiting belief or experiencing a traumatic response that’s preventing them from progressing
  • Engaging in avoidant or Self-sabotaging behavior
  • Afraid to or can’t be emotionally available
  • Ignoring their feeling that the relationship wont’ work out
  • Waiting for something better to come along

Do’s & Don’ts For Healthy Dating Timelines

Being in an unhealthy timeline doesn’t necessarily mean dating partners are a bad match. But it does mean that they’re on a path towards creating a relationship where one or the other feels a lack of trust, inauthentic, regret and clinginess to name a few. There’s always the opportunity to turn an unhealthy timeline into a healthy one and there are certain behaviors/skills that help prevent from getting into an unhealthy timeline.

Do’s

  • Do know your personal boundaries and how to communicate them
  • Do demonstrate you’re interested in your partner if you genuinely are
  • Do take into account your comfort level, if showing interest makes you feel really uncomfortable, it may be too soon in the dating process
  • Do monitor and attune to your dating partner’s comfort level. Their comfort level is a good indicator of whether to progress the dating process or to slow down.
  • Monitor your own comfort level too. If your date is making you feel uncomfortable, try to understand why and what you would need to feel comfortable. Maybe you need more time alone, you want to get to know them more, you’re uncertain about their intentions, etc
  • Ask your dating partner about who they are, their values, aspirations and interests. Take the time to get to know who they are
  • Your date will find your inquiries as a demonstration of your being interested in them
  • Be aware of any unhealthy tendencies you might have based on your past relationships. Tendencies or patterns like: Do you normally pick partners who are unavailable? Do you start panicking after first dates thinking you’ve lost their interest? Do your partners in the past feel they didn’t know whether you liked them or not?
  • Do be aware of negative beliefs you have about yourself and how they influence your behavior. These beliefs, like “I’m unattractive” or “my life is boring” or “I’m too old for my date” are unsubstantiated and can lead to rushing or slowing down the dating process

Don’ts

  • Don’t make assumptions about how dating partner feels about you. Look for clear signs, for example, your date say “I had a lot of fun with you” it’s not an assumption to believe they’re interested. For example, believing your partner lost interest because they didn’t respond to your text within an hour is making an assumption
  • Don’t try to impress your date. Being your authentic, congruent self is sufficient. Chances are likely that any attempt to impress will come off inauthentic, try-hard or overbearing
  • Don’t make promises or commitments you cannot keep or don’t plan on keeping. If you do, think about why you’re doing it — then find an alternative way of meeting whatever need it’s meeting for you
  • Don’t lie about how you feel about your dating partner. Don’t tell them you love them if you don’t. Lying about how you feel can speed up the dating process, especially because the process is paced by the information partners learn about each other
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