Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

When Couples Say “I Love You” and Other Relationship Milestones Revealed

Over the years, I’ve gotten approximately 33 million letters — give or take — about when to drop the “L” word. Sometimes LWs wonder what’s taking their partners so long. Sometimes they want to know whether they should say it first. Other times, they’re just curious what the “average” length of time is for a new couple to utter those three little words. A new survey conducted in England has an answer to that. Researchers polled 100,000 men and women and discovered that on average, new couples go on two dates a week and say “I love you” around the 14th date, which is after seven weeks of dating. After the jump, a few more relationship milestones:

* First kiss after two dates (roughly one week)
* Sex after four dates (about two weeks)
* Introduced to friends after six dates (three weeks)
* Introduced to parents after 12 dates (six weeks)
* Move in together after 60 dates (30 weeks)

Does this seem surprising to you? What you would expect? Keep in mind, the people polled are Brits, and their dating styles may differ from us free-wheelin’ Americans. Most people I know who want to kiss their dates do so on the first date. And two dates a week at first sounds about right, but as a relationship progressed, my experience is that that frequency increases. Wouldn’t it be weird to move in with someone you only see twice a week?

[via Daily Mail]

73 comments… add one
  • kerrycontrary August 16, 2012, 12:04 pm

    yeh I think these numbers are a little weird. I don’t know anyone who said I love you after 7 weeks! My thought is more the 3-6 month range. And most people my age (25-ish) move in after a year, not 30 weeks or less.

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    • ktfran August 16, 2012, 12:26 pm

      Right? Saying I love you after 7 weeks seems a little, ok a lot, fast.

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      • evanscr05 August 16, 2012, 12:59 pm

        I dunno, we said it after 2 and it was perfect.

      • gillociraptor August 16, 2012, 1:10 pm

        We moved super fast (apparently!), too.

        We said it after a week. We also moved in together really quickly, too, though. We’ve only spent five nights apart since our first date. So, we’re weird.

      • evanscr05 August 16, 2012, 2:57 pm

        Yeah, we never really dated in the typical form because from date 1 on, we were together every single night until we officially moved in together. Moving fast worked for us! Been together almost 5 years, married nearly one, and have a very healthy and happy relationship.

    • cporoski August 16, 2012, 1:27 pm

      I think it totally depends on the couple. My husband dropped the Lbomb drunk on our first night meeting and for real on the 3rd date. each couple is different

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      • lemongrass August 16, 2012, 1:30 pm


      • cporoski August 16, 2012, 4:55 pm

        love the HIMYM reference 🙂 amazing.

    • kerrycontrary August 16, 2012, 2:40 pm

      Yeh I don’t think anyone is passing judgement and saying that these numbers are too fast or it’s not good for the couple, I’m just saying I don’t think they correctly predict the “norm” in terms of my socioeconomic group and age.

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  • rachel August 16, 2012, 12:06 pm

    Wow, a lot of these seem really fast. Moving in after less than a year? I love you after less than 2 months? Wendy, these are just going to stress out all those LWs even more, haha.

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    • Tax Geek August 16, 2012, 12:08 pm

      But it’s good for business…

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      • JK August 16, 2012, 12:10 pm

        Good point, maybe Wendy WANTS readers to freak out!

      • theattack August 16, 2012, 1:15 pm

        especially after yesterday’s post, handing over preventative relationship advice. Come on now. There’s got to be SOME crazy left!

  • lemongrass August 16, 2012, 12:12 pm

    My husband and I did everything really fast in the beginning. Worked for us 🙂

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    • jlyfsh August 16, 2012, 1:01 pm

      mine too. i think it really just depends on the people involved. their age, whether or not they know what they are looking for, etc. for some it just works to move quicker than others 🙂

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      • lemongrass August 16, 2012, 1:29 pm

        I agree with all of those- except for age. I was barely 19 when we got together, I just grew up faster than a lot of people. But I know I’m an anomaly. We bought our house when I was 20. I will be the first to admit: I am not a normal person!

    • evanscr05 August 16, 2012, 1:01 pm

      Us too!

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      • gillociraptor August 16, 2012, 1:11 pm

        Same here! We’re one of those textbook versions of how NOT to proceed in a relationship… but it worked!

    • SweetPeaG August 16, 2012, 1:22 pm

      Agreed. A lot of people are crying “TOO FAST!”… but we have to keep in mind that everything is different for everyone.

      My fiance told me he was falling in love with me VERY quickly… like a few weeks in. It didn’t bother me or freak me out. It was wonderful. I swear to you, we have a very healthy relationship… partly because we are very honest with each other and tell each other what is on our minds. We both know what we want and just went for it. It is working out just fine 🙂

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      • lemongrass August 16, 2012, 1:27 pm

        I told my husband I loved him 3 weeks in. I did! I still do. I don’t regret saying it at all, even though he wasn’t ready to say so.

      • SweetPeaG August 16, 2012, 1:34 pm

        Maybe I’m too much of a romantic… but I think sometimes… YOU JUST KNOW.

      • Skyblossom August 16, 2012, 2:03 pm

        I agree. Within a week of meeting my husband I knew I could marry him. Not that I was sure that I’d marry him or that I rushed into marriage, but I knew.

      • lemongrass August 16, 2012, 2:07 pm

        Yup that was it! I honestly can’t think of when I started to think I would marry him, I feel like I always knew. And I just threw up a little in my mouth.

  • Michelle.Lea August 16, 2012, 12:23 pm

    I’m with lemongrass… i know my relationship with my husband progressed wayyy faster than most whether it should or shouldnt have.. it worked out 🙂

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  • ChemE August 16, 2012, 12:35 pm

    My husband and I did things really slow I guess. I’d argue we were highschoolers, but then, I did stuff way too fast with another bf so I think I intentionally made it slow. And we’re both really shy around each other at the beginning.
    I think we held hands like 3 months in, kissed a month later, everything but sex a day later, then actual sex a month or so after that.
    I technically met his parents on our first “date” since we had a group of friends over to his house to watch a movie, but the official meeting was probably a month and a half in. It was funny the way he asked me to meet them. We’re driving back from I don’t know where to my parents house, and he’s like “my parents want to meet you” so I ask when, and he’s says “right now, do you want to come over for dinner?” I have to say my anxiety went through the roof and I had to decline, too last second for me!
    We had the same group of friends, so we all already knew each other. And moving in, we didn’t move in until after we were married and he was done with active duty, so like 4.5 years? However we always stayed with each other when he was on leave or I visited him.

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  • MissDre August 16, 2012, 12:37 pm

    Yeah, these numbers seem CRAZY fast to me. I don’t know a single person who has said “I love you” after 7 weeks and I definitely don’t know anybody who moved in with their SO that fast either.

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    • JK August 16, 2012, 12:45 pm

      I know one (an ex friend) who has said it sooner than that. With every. single. guy. she´s dated in the last couple of years. And there have been A LOT of them.
      With her latest (the one with who she got pregnant on purpose 3 months in) after the 1st w/end together they were plastering I love yous all over the place, and they changed their fb statuses to married.
      Did I mention they´re 33????
      And do I have to say why she´s an ex friend?

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      • MissDre August 16, 2012, 1:08 pm

        LoL sounds like she’s got nothing else fulfilling going on in her life.

      • FireStar August 16, 2012, 1:08 pm

        Wait – they got married after the first weekend together? Or just …um…lied about it?

      • JK August 16, 2012, 1:11 pm

        No, but isn´t it really cute for a couple IN THEIR 30s to say they´re married when they´ve just met? (sarcasm for all you Sheldon Coopers out there)

  • LK7889 August 16, 2012, 12:38 pm

    At first I was surprised by these numbers…

    But then I thought about my friends/family in serious relationships and realized that it probably *is* the norm. The people I know who don’t fall into those general time lines seem to either not want anything serious or can’t find someone they really like.

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  • Fabelle August 16, 2012, 12:44 pm

    Agree with everybody else– WAAAY too fast. I mean, I know it works sometimes, but for it to be the norm? “I love you” after not even 2 months & moving in together after only 30 weeks? Wow.

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    • jlyfsh August 16, 2012, 12:59 pm

      the things with these examples is that no two relationships (nor any two people) are the same. i mean we can agree that moving in together after 2 months is probably not a good idea! but, for some these time lines mentioned about work. my husband and i said i love you after about 2 months, maybe just shy of 2 months. and moved in together after a year so a little longer than this example. but, still we pretty much followed this timeline other than the moving in. so, it’s hard to say. what is fast to one person may not be to someone else.

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      • Kristen August 16, 2012, 1:28 pm

        Agreed. One of my close friends hit it off with a guy and moved in with him after two weeks. It was so fast that everyone got whip lash, but they’re still really happy three years later and are talking about getting married. It worked for them.

        In my case, we took some things really fast and others really slow. It was high school, so we met each other’s families right away and already knew each other’s friends. And we said I love you from the beginning, which seems crazy, but it was true. After that, everything was really slow. We had our first kiss after two months and then waited to have sex for three and a half years. And we just officially moved in together last month after getting married (9 years into our relationship).

        It’s impossible to compare your relationship to anyone else’s timeline because what works for you probably won’t work for someone else. You just have to feel it out!

    • Lindsay August 16, 2012, 1:34 pm

      Yeah, that’s the thing. I don’t doubt that some couples do this, but enough to make it the average?

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      • Red_Lady August 16, 2012, 2:33 pm

        That’s what I was thinking! I know everyone has their own timeline, but this is saying 7 months is the average for people to move in together! Which means most people are around that, or maybe even half are more than that, half are less. So a lot of people are moving this fast. That is what seems crazy to me.

  • Mainer August 16, 2012, 12:49 pm

    This seems right to me. I’ve always had a problem with this time table crap. If it feels right, do it. This list seem fairly on par with my relationship. Met her parents before her friends though, but that was a proximity thing (parents lived in next town, friends in another state, closest friends in another country). We were ready to move in after 6 months, but logistically we couldn’t until more than a year. Our engagement will be longer than our dating (dated 14 months, got engaged, engagement will be 15 months).

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    • SweetPeaG August 16, 2012, 1:24 pm

      Ignore time frames. Do what’s right for you! Agreed.

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  • BriarRose August 16, 2012, 1:07 pm

    I’ve been with my current guy for 2 months, and I’m definitely not ready to say I love you yet. My last serious boyfriend, we said it at about 2 months but I felt like things moved too quickly for us, and we eventually fizzled. This time around feels more like a slow burn, and I like that. I feel more confident in this current relationship without an “I love you” than I did in my last one where I heard it on a daily basis. I guess it’s the whole actions speak louder than words. People should do what feels right for them and their partner.

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    • MissDre August 16, 2012, 1:09 pm

      This is exactly how I feel and why I’m not worried that my boyfriend doesn’t say it.

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  • bittergaymark August 16, 2012, 1:09 pm

    Well, the fact that everything now seems to happen so absurdly fast certainly does go a rather long way in explaining the staggeringly high divorce rate…

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    • Lili August 16, 2012, 1:44 pm

      ITA! And, not gonna lie and not intending to sound like an uberbitch, BUT the earlier letter from today and this timeline are providing me with TONS of insight into how other women operate ( on an women whom I would never befriend fwiw) I mean, I don’t get how people can ‘know’ so soon. Managing my life takes time and effort, I have happy hours to attend, Friends to catch up chat with/dish about new life events/men with, tv shows to catch up on, blogs to read, podcasts to listen to etc. I can’t know someone is ‘right’ for my life so soon. My life is super full, busy and amazing, He has to earn a spot in it! Not be given one based on our ‘instant connection’ Plus, maybe I’m uber complex but I honestly think a person has to spend at least all 4 seasons with me for me to even know if i do in fact love them. I mean, I’m hella cranky in the winter (Jan-April). UBER social and busy in the summer/fall (aka football season) and kinda flighty during the holidays–so MANY parties. SO much shopping. Mr. Man better keep up, and I can’t know that about someone without going through it.

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      • Moneypenny August 16, 2012, 2:03 pm

        Agree Agree Agree. That is all.

      • Red_Lady August 16, 2012, 2:37 pm

        Totally agree on the 4 seasons thing!

      • GatorGirl August 16, 2012, 2:37 pm

        I “knew” with in 6 months I wanted to marry my fiance BUT we waiting 4 years to get engaged and it will be over 5 years when we’re actually married. I think it is possible to “know” but still responsible to wait it out for a little. Sure there are couples who are exceptions who make it for 40+ years after marrying after 6 months but there are pleantly of divorces too.

      • evanscr05 August 16, 2012, 3:09 pm

        I met my husband on eHarmony, so I talked to him before I ever saw him in person, and the very first second I heard his voice on the phone, I “knew”. I don’t know how to explain it. I remember thinking to myself during that call, “I’m going to marry this man”, and this not a thought I have EVER had before. It just popped its way into my head. When it’s right, you truly do just know. I always thought the “I just knew” line was strange, until it happened to me.

        Also, when it’s the right person, all those things you are uber busy doing, you’re still able to do, so it’s not like having a relationship automatically means the rest of your life is over.

      • evanscr05 August 16, 2012, 3:11 pm

        Also, I know I just sounded crazy that I could have those thoughts about a person I’ve never met, and it was certainly solidified for me when we met IRL, but yes, that instant connection DOES exist.

      • jlyfsh August 16, 2012, 3:16 pm

        i agree on all parts. when it’s the right person your life shifts some for them but the rest of the stuff keeps going on. like anything else there will be some change, but that’s to be expected.

        and i chatted with my husband on an online dating site for 2 weeks before i met him and i felt the same way. meeting him in person i was taken aback by how different being with him was than the other people i had dated.

        that being said not everyone has a moment like that. that’s why you can’t compare any two relationships. for every relationship that is similar to mine and evanscr05 you have two that developed more slowly. it’s all about the individual and what they are comfortable with.

    • Michelle.Lea August 16, 2012, 1:35 pm

      i dont know though. my parents were engaged after 3 months, married at 6 – they were married until my dad passed, for 49 years. aunts and uncles married fast and have been married for 50+ I think it’s more society as it is now vs moving too fast.

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      • SweetPeaG August 16, 2012, 2:29 pm

        Michelle, I often agree with your comments. This one is no exception. God bless your parents… that is amazing. And so sorry that you lost your Dad. My parents have been married for almost 40 years and I think they had a quick moving timeline as well. It has worked out just fine for them. Of course, it is not for everyone. But, it doesn’t neccessarily mean DIVORCE.

    • lemongrass August 16, 2012, 3:26 pm

      I think divorce happens way more often because of the immaturity and lack of commitment of those involved. Those people may be more likely to move fast but I don’t think it is the moving fast itself that is causing divorces.

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  • A August 16, 2012, 1:23 pm

    My best friend and her fiance said “I love you” after ~4 weeks, which I told her flat out was crazy. Everything about their relationship moved way to fast for me, but seems to work for them!

    My boyfriend and I only started saying “I love you” after about 2 years together, which I’m sure most of my coupled-up friends judge and think is ridiculously slow, but to be honest, I’m glad it took that long. We spent that time showing each other how we felt instead of saying it constantly. I kind of feel like it means more since we only say it sporadically–like we’re really putting thought into it every time. I never want it to become a habit, like I notice it has for most of my female friends. They can’t get through a phone call to their SOs without at least two “I love you!”s. I want to emphasize that I don’t think my relationship is any better than theirs! Just that I am happy with the way mine has progressed.

    But in the end, I honestly don’t care what other people do (or when) as long as their relationships are healthy. (Although yeah, I… don’t think a relationship has had enough time after only 7 weeks to know if you “love” someone in that way. Guess it works for some.)

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    • Red_Lady August 16, 2012, 2:44 pm

      “I kind of feel like it means more since we only say it sporadically–like we’re really putting thought into it every time”
      I like that! My guy & I rarely say “I love you” but vary it up w/ “I’m so lucky to have you in my life”, “you make me smile”, “you’re awesome” etc. And I’m realizing that I feel the way you do -it really does mean more to me those rare occasions where we do say “I love you”, and it doesn’t feel rote. (Not that if you do say it a lot that you don’t fully mean it, and I’m sure it doesn’t seem rote to you – that’s just how it would feel to me personally) So thank you for that, A!

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  • lemongrass August 16, 2012, 1:32 pm

    Normal is a setting on a washing machine.

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  • Lindsay August 16, 2012, 1:32 pm

    Is this true? Some of the numbers seem OK, but several seem really off. I’d never say “I love you” after seven weeks or move in with someone after less than a year of dating. And maybe it’s the fact that I live so far from my parents, but they aren’t meeting someone before a few months. Unless maybe they happened to be in town…

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  • GatorGirl August 16, 2012, 1:37 pm

    While these “time tables” seem fast to me, I can see how they are comfortable to other people. My fiance and I are a little weird being that we were long distance for a while. Kissing was immediate, sexing was eh 3 monthsish, “I love you” was about 4 months, meeting the parents was about 6 months, moving in was at 4 years. (And we’ll be married in just over 5.) It’s interesting to see how other people’s relationships progress but I don’t think anyone should judge/gauge their relationship off of anyone elses.

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  • landygirl August 16, 2012, 1:45 pm

    Hey I just met you
    and this is crazy
    but here’s my number
    so call me maybe.

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    • ktfran August 16, 2012, 1:52 pm

      I hate that song. But not so secretly love it.

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  • bethany August 16, 2012, 1:48 pm

    Different strokes for different folks, I guess!

    My husband and I were:
    * First kiss on first date
    * Sex after about 2 weeks?
    * Introduced to friends after — He met mine on our 2nd date
    * Introduced to parents– I met his after about 3 months?
    * Move in together after 2 years?

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  • mandalee August 16, 2012, 2:10 pm

    My timeline was all over the place, but the I love you part seems really, really soon to me. We started off as a one night stand (oops!) so first kiss/sex, we definitely don’t match up on, but we didn’t say I love you until four months in and even that felt really, really soon. 7 weeks?? At 7 weeks, I was still getting up to brush my teeth before he woke up and always showing him my best side. I wouldn’t feel comfortable saying I love you until we’ve been through things together, that our relationship seemed like it could be going somewhere real, and that I’ve seen the ugly side of them and I still feel the same as I did before I knew those things. I know everyone’s different, but the I love you timeline in the study seems super rushed.

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  • iwannatalktosampson August 16, 2012, 2:16 pm

    People are allowed to say they had a successful marriage when one of them is in the ground. Before that they can say they *have* a successful relationship. Marriage is until death do you part. So you have no idea what life is going to throw at you and if you can make it through it. Relationships can be successful just on a day to day basis. This is why I hate it when people feel like because they broke up that relationship was a failure. Not true. But I’m sorry no one can say they have a successful marriage until one of them makes it to the other side.

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    • Lili August 16, 2012, 2:50 pm

      TOTALLY. And, our parents generation had different values. I don’t think we can compare their stats with ours at all. My parents had a happy marriage til my mother died and they knew very little about each other before the marriage, (he met her at a party and was smitten, she was young, naive and ready to move to good ol foreign sounding Texas for love so they got married pretty quickly after) and got to know each other as parents more so than a couple since I was a honeymoon baby.

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    • lemongrass August 16, 2012, 3:34 pm

      True, Mr. Savage, however you can say that you are happy in your marriage. I would say that my marriage is successful up until this point. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

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  • RMM0278 August 16, 2012, 2:30 pm

    I said it first after 12 weeks. I really wish I hadn’t! I should have taken Wendy’s advice and just waited for him to do it first. Two years later, I almost walked down the aisle with someone who finally copped to NEVER loving me. Turns out he only said it because I did and he didn’t want to lose me. I’m jealous that Wendy didn’t have to lose thousands of nonrefundable wedding costs to learn what I did!

    On the other hand, my friend had to wait an entire year before her bf said it during a fight. (We kept telling her to MOA!) She ended up marrying him, but she’s still unsure if he actually does or not because of a) how long it took him to say it and b) what my ex did.

    Luckily my current bf was the one who said it first. We were weird. We discussed getting married first, and then he said it some weeks later.

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  • McLovin August 16, 2012, 3:07 pm

    I tend to be a slow mover on milestone events within relationships. It’s not that I’m afraid to commit, I just want to enjoy every stage of a relationship for all it’s worth. I enjoy the anticipation of “what’s next” far too much to rush into the next phase of any relationship.

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    • anonymous August 16, 2012, 4:38 pm

      is that you in the pic? you are really cute!

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  • sobriquet August 16, 2012, 3:12 pm

    I feel like MOST relationships would progress a lot faster if people were honest about their feelings right off the bat. It seems like 85% of a new relationship is trying to figure out how much the other person likes you. You feel much more vulnerable that way and are less likely to open up. Therefore, it takes longer to get to know one another. 14 dates seems PLENTY long enough- especially if you’re getting to know each other intimately.

    Every relationship is different, too. There is no one exact time frame it should fall under. I’ve said it after 2 months, 3 months, 6 months, and now… 2 weeks. Of course, the last “I love you” conversation was more along the lines of “I love you, even though it’s so crazy fast and there’s still so much more to get to know… but I love the person I know.” It just made more sense than saying “I more than like you” which is what we were doing. When you love someone, you know. There’s no question about it. And there is really no other word to describe it.

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    • lemongrass August 16, 2012, 3:30 pm

      Yes. That is how it worked for me and my husband- we were honest with each other. There were no games- no waiting 3 days to call. We owned up to how we felt and did the elusive communication thang and it worked.

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  • SpaceySteph August 17, 2012, 12:59 am

    Its not so much that these timelines seem fast as that they are average. Which means that if some couples wait many months or years to hit each timeline, that indicates there are some that do all this stuff in like 2 weeks which DEFINITELY seems fast to me.

    I said “I love you” to my now-fiance within about 2 months (he waited 4 more before saying it back!) because yeah, I just knew. I actually had wanted to say it for a couple weeks but I was trying to hold back and not say it too soon. But I couldn’t hold it in any more.

    On the other hand we’ve been together 2.5 years and engaged for 5 months but don’t live together and won’t until after we’re married. (I’m not trying to be prudish or snotty. I wish we could but we both own houses so its complicated…)

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  • Christy August 17, 2012, 7:58 am

    Our order: met my friends, met my family, first kiss (these three all within 2 weeks of dating and over the span of two days), sex, “i love you”, met her family and friends (when we flew across the country for her family reunion)

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  • tbrucemom August 17, 2012, 10:02 am

    I’m curious as to how age, children and other serious relationships factored into these statistics. When I got married at 19 those stats were spot on. Fast forward to divorced after 28 years of marriage, two kids and now 51 and they seem way too soon, at least when it comes to saying I love you and moving in together. My BF of 3 years said it after 2.5 years and that was after I finally asked him. I knew that he did because of how he acted but still hadn’t heard the words. We’re still not living together even though he’s asked because of my 17 year old daughter. How much I see him varies upon what we’ve got going on (together and separately) but I’d say it averages about 2-3 times a week. I guess my current situation would really increase the time of those statistics!

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    • Christy August 17, 2012, 10:10 am

      See, and my mother is 48 and she just got engaged for the 6th time in 11 years (two of those actually ended in marriage). She’s been with her current man for 7 months–less time than I’ve been with my gf. I think it depends on the person. Maybe you’ve changed with time?

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      • tbrucemom August 17, 2012, 3:06 pm

        I absolutely changed (or actually I would say mature) over the years which is why I was curious about things like how old the people that answered these questions are. Mine was a combination of being older, having children, going thru a divorce, etc. that allowed me to wait as long as I did for most of these milestones. I’m not saying doing them earlier is wrong, just curious about how these things would affect the results.

        P.S. I hope your mom finds happiness this time.


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