Do you need help creating a timeline for the goals in your relationship?
A relationship timeline is a schedule for when you and your partner plan the events in chronological order. Having a timeline helps to stay on track with your personal and relationship goals. Without a timeline, it is easy to deviate from your original plan. As a result, you may find yourselves in a situation where time has passed, but you are no closer to achieving your goals. A timeline can reassure you that you are on the right track.
In this article, you will learn the meaning of a timeline and how you can create one for your personal and relationship goals.
What Is a Relationship Timeline
According to Merriam-Webster dictionary a timeline is defined as:
- a table listing important events for successive years within a particular historical period
- usually timeline ˈtīm-ˌlīn : a schedule of events and procedures
So, a timeline is a schedule for doing things in chronological order.
Having a plan, a timeline, and some creativity, you can make a graphical representation of your relationship. Your relationship timeline can become your romantic story of what and when things happened.
Before you create a timeline, you need to have specific goals that are realistic and achievable. Make sure that achieving these goals will contribute to your life in a meaningful way. More on setting goals in this article.
Make sure to discuss your personal and relationship goals with your partner.
Now that you are all set with your goals, you need a plan. If a goal is your destination, a plan – is your map. A solid plan is clear and takes into account various aspects of your life and your relationship.
Once you have specific goals and a well thought through plan to achieve them, it is time to create a timeline.
Following our analogy where a goal is your destination and a plan is a map, a timeline is a schedule.
A functional timeline outlines the benchmarks (stops) on the way to your main goal.
Why is a timeline important?
As you are on the path to achieving your goals, your feelings, needs and circumstances are likely to change.
Benchmarks serve as reference points to reflect on your goals and circumstances. They are like stops in your journey to take a break and check if you still want to achieve your goals.
These breaks also give you breathing room to reassess if you are still interested in the previously chosen goals.
An adequate timeline includes specific dates and an objective goal you want to achieve by then.
A timeline is a tool that can help you achieve your relationship goals, but you still need to do what you’ve set yourself to do and follow through with your plan.
You may have several goals related to your relationship. Each goal needs its plan and timeline. Let’s have a look at two examples of common goals in relationships:
Goal: you and your partner want to make your relationship work.
Plan: having effective communication and visiting each other regularly.
Timeline: setting the frequency of your communication and the topics of your discussions.
Does a Relationship Need a Timeline?
Having a timeline for the goals in your relationship can help you stay on track with your relationship goals.
Couples in a relationship often overlook a timeline. Many couples approach their relationships as if they will last forever. However, in reality, feelings and circumstances change. What you wanted, in the beginning, may no longer be your priority. You may also feel differently about being with your partner.
It helps to be open to this idea of change, so you can remind yourself to value your relationship as long you enjoy it and adapt if anything changes in your lives.
Why Do You Need a Timeline for Your Relationship?
Having a timeline can reassure you that you are on track with the goals and objectives of your relationship.
Without a timeline, it is easy to get stuck in a relationship without a sense of direction.
When you have a timeline, you have an idea of when things will happen. It gives you more clarity and certainty about your relationship.
What Happens if You Don’t Have a Timeline for Your Relationship?
If you don’t have a timeline, you risk getting stuck in the limbo of a relationship without knowing where it is heading.
Particularly with poor communication, it can be hard to judge the state of your relationship. The uncertainty about your relationship can lead to insecurity. Insecurities turn into doubts, which can become toxic to your relationship.
This situation happens gradually and makes it hard to pinpoint the exact time your relationship goes from healthy to toxic.
Ideally, you would set a timeline for your personal and relationship goals before starting a relationship.
If you are already in a relationship, it’s OK. Talking about your goals, making a plan, and creating a timeline will serve as an opportunity for you and your partner to reflect on your relationship.
You get to see whether or not you are happy in this relationship. As a result, you will become aware if something is not quite right and will get a chance to address any doubts and issues holding you back in this relationship.
How to Set a Timeline for a Relationship
- Create specific personal and relationship goals.
- Make a plan to achieve these goals, considering your feelings, needs and circumstances.
- Set the benchmarks for you and your partner to reflect on your relationship to check if you are on the right path towards achieving your goals.
- Allocate time to have weekly recap sessions on how you are feeling to see if there are things that you need to change.
If you are starting a relationship, it is a perfect opportunity to set your timeline and get it right from the very beginning.
Having a timeline can also be helpful if you are already in a relationship.
A timeline allows you to reflect on how your relationship is going. You can decide if there’s anything you need to change.
If you need some guidance on creating a timeline for your relationship, check out our workbook.
How to Keep to Your Relationship Timeline
As you go through your relationship, there will be occasions when what you’ve said in your timeline may not happen.
Maybe you will miss your recap session, or have to postpone the visit. You might be feeling emotionally overwhelmed and uncertain of where your relationship is going. You may also have doubts about whether or not you would like to continue your relationship.
Here are some tips on how you can keep to the timeline in your relationship:
- You can set a date and time for a regular recap session with your partner to check if you are on track with your relationship goals.
- A regular recap session can help you keep on track with your plan and discuss any changes that could come up.
- Review your plan and timeline to see if there are any changes you need to make.
- Talk about your feelings: Did they change, or do you feel the same about each other and your relationship?
- Communication: do you talk enough, too much or too little?
- Visits: are you happy with the frequency of your visits, or do you need to find a way to see each other more often?
- Talk about your struggles, doubts and concerns.
To keep to a timeline of your relationship, you need a certain degree of dedication. Things hardly ever go according to plan. So while you need to have a plan and a timeline, be prepared for it to change.
As time goes on and your feelings change, your plan must change with them. It will give you stability and the reassurance that you are in touch with your feelings and in control of your relationship.
Does the Timeline Change as You Go Through Your Relationship?
Everything changes in the universe, “the only constant is change” (Heraclitus). It is also true for a relationship timeline.
Your feelings and circumstances change all the time. Some changes are small and can go unnoticed. Other changes are more significant and can impact the course of your life and your relationship.
Here, you have two options:
- Recognise this change and adapt to it in time
- Miss the signs of problems and struggle in your relationship later on.
Keeping on top of your feelings will allow you to notice if they change. Here’s how you can stay in touch with your feelings:
- Take time to observe how you feel about different aspects of your relationship.
- Recognise if and when your feelings change.
- As your feelings change, observe the new feelings you have.
- Connect your feelings to your needs. In other words, why are you feeling a certain way?
- Share them with your partner and ask your partner to share their feelings with you.
If your feelings change, you will probably need to reconsider your relationship goals.
You may love each other profoundly and work towards a common relationship goal. However, your feelings may fade, or you may develop feelings for someone else. In this case, all your relationship goals are no longer your priorities, and it is time to reevaluate your personal goals.
Recognising your feelings will help you stay in touch with yourself and keep true to who you are and what you want. If your feelings change, you should be honest with yourself and your partner and adapt to this change.
At the same time, if you don’t keep on top of your feelings, you won’t be aware of this change and will end up moving in together with the person you no longer love.
If you are making an effort to achieve a specific goal, make sure it is something you want.
Circumstances also can and often do change.
For example, you may set a timeline to go on a trip in six months. However, you got a fantastic job opportunity you have wanted for a long time that would be fantastic for your career.
In that case, you may choose to postpone your trip. Just make sure to rebook your trip rather than postpone it indefinitely. Skipping the trip becomes a sacrifice rather than a compromise. And that is not good for a relationship for many reasons.
So, how do you manage this change? A timeline can help you keep an eye on this change, but what do you do when this change happens?
Let’s have a look…
How to Adapt to a New Timeline in Your Relationship
You may find yourself in a situation where your feelings or circumstances have changed. If this happens, use your timeline to figure things out. Here’s how:
- Go back to your timeline.
- Pinpoint this stage of your relationship.
- Make a note of what has changed.
- Note your personal feelings and ideas.
- Share your feelings, ideas, and preferences with your partner.
- Give your partner the time to process this information.
- When your partner is ready to talk, be there to listen to their point of view.
- As long as you’re together, take the time to express yourself and hear each other. Doing so will help you maintain a healthy relationship and be honest with yourself and your partner.
Suppose you are having problems with your relationship. In that case, there are ways you can try to fix them, provided both of you are willing to make an effort and hear each other out.
For example, the solution may be seeing each other more often, moving in together, taking a temporary break, or ending your relationship altogether.
Suppose you discover that the change in your feelings and circumstances means that it is time to end your relationship, don’t be afraid of it.
It’s always better to break up than stay in a relationship that isn’t working.
Relationships do not have to end with fights and negative feelings.
A relationship can end for many reasons. But there are ways you can end your relationship on good terms, still caring for each other.
You may be in a relationship already or thinking of starting one.
Either way, to make the most of your relationship, it helps to have specific goals, as well as a plan and a timeline to achieve them.
Relationships are challenging for many couples. The longer they last, the harder they may become.
Goals can help you stay focused, a plan can make your goals achievable, and a timeline can help you stick to your plan.
To make all of the above happen, you and your partner must have good communication.
You need to feel free to express your thoughts and preferences as well as understand each other’s ideas, values, and beliefs.
To know where your relationship is heading, you need to maintain effective, clear and honest communication with your partner.
A relationship timeline can help you ask the right questions at the right time. It can also help you see if there are some issues that you should address.
Poor communication makes it nearly impossible to have a healthy relationship and can lead to confusion and unnecessary, yet frequent, arguments and fights. Before you know it, you are full of doubts and insecurities from the uncertainty.
The right timeline allows you to stay in control of your relationship while considering your feelings, needs and circumstances.
To set a working timeline, you need to know what you want from your relationship. Once you know, you can make a plan for how long it will last, when you move in together, and how you will manage the distance until then.
You can use the relationship timeline to keep track of the goals and objectives of your relationship.
The timeline for your relationship is part of the plan that you should make together with your partner.
You can use this timeline to navigate your relationship. It involves visits, talking to each other, and finally moving in together.
Help and Advice with Your Relationship Timeline
Tips to Help You Create a Timeline
- Set clear goals
- Make a specific and realistic plan
- Set the date for your main goal
- Set dates for the mini-goals on your way to the main goal
- If your feelings, needs, or circumstances change, talk about it with your partner.
If you don’t know how to create a good timeline for your relationship and need professional advice, we’ll be happy to help! Check out our coaching options here.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a good timeline for a relationship?
A clear and specific timeline helps you stay on track with your personal and relationship goals. It can also help you see what you need to do and when to make your relationship work.
Is there a set timeline for a relationship?
Every couple should make their timeline based on their feelings, needs and circumstances. You can talk to your partner and create a timeline that works for both of you. Keep in mind that your feelings and circumstances may change. In this case, you would have to adjust your timeline.
Do I need a timeline for my relationship?
Yes, you do. A timeline can help you navigate your relationship and make sure it is healthy along the way. In a time of uncertainty, it will reassure you that your relationship is heading in the right direction. A clear timeline will allow you to make necessary changes to your goals if something unexpected happens.
Does a relationship need a timeline?
Yes, every relationship needs a timeline. You should have a goal, a plan to achieve it and a timeline for achieving this goal.
Why don’t relationships work?
Many relationships fail because couples don’t realise how much each person’s behaviour affects the relationship. Without developing effective communication, you end up with confusion and unnecessary arguments and fights.
When to let go of a relationship?
When your relationship isn’t working, and you have no willingness to fix it, it could be time to let it go. There are many reasons why relationships fail. The first thing you could do is identify why it isn’t working to see if it’s within your power to fix the issues.