Is Time Really Important In A Relationship?
How I Met Your Mother fans will remember an episode called The Autumn of Breakups because it introduced us to an iconic relationship debate.
It starts off with Marshall and Lily mentioning how they had an incredibly awkward time with Ted and Victoria. They insist she had been dropping hints that she wants a commitment. While Ted believed they’ve only been dating five months, but Marshall and Lily say that if you get back together with someone the clock doesn’t restart, it simply un-pauses.
Whether you’re team restart or unpause, the bigger conversation happening is actually about time in a relationship.
So What Exactly Is ‘time' When It Comes To A Relationship?
All of us know couples who went from meeting each other to getting hitched in a span of months. And then, there are others who have been dating for years without any indication of tying the knot anytime soon.
That begs the question, how important is time in a relationship? Do you have to know someone for a long time before making a deeper commitment? Is being together long but not planning a marriage soon a problem?
According to a survey by WeddingWire, 38 per cent of couples got engaged after dating for 18 months or less. On the other side of the spectrum, 25 per cent wait five or more years before popping the question, so there’s a wide range of what’s “normal” in terms of a relationship timeline.
In India, where arranged marriages are far more common, the dynamics can be even more varied.
We spoke to some real couples to find out what does time mean to their relationship.
We have changed their names as it is 2019 and if someone doesn’t wish to be named or share about their life without being quoted, we should respect that. Privacy and consent matters. As you know, we at SHEROES take these two factors pretty seriously. So here we go.
The Whirlwind Romance
“Our families introduced Jatin and me in December. Honestly, at that time, I had no idea what was going to happen. We met several times after that and found we were compatible on most counts. I don't really know how to explain it but it just felt right,” smiles Disha, a Mumbai based language translator who got engaged to Jatin a few weeks ago.
“I feel when you find the right person it doesn’t really matter if you’ve known them for weeks or years. When you know, you know. Like that dialogue in the movie When Harry Met Sally, 'When you know you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.' Besides, we’re in this for life now. We have all the time in the world!”
Here's How You Can Have A Healthy Relationship
The Long Engagement
Devika and Dishank met in an arranged marriage setup about 2 years ago. “Dishank's mom met me during my elder sister’s wedding and asked my family if we were looking for prospective grooms. You know how it goes. I was only 21 at the time and wasn’t even remotely thinking about getting married but when he said he wasn’t looking to get married immediately either, I saw no harm in meeting him.” Devika says.
“We went on a few dates and I knew I could see myself marrying him. He is everything I was looking for in a guy and makes me feel like I am the girl of his dreams. What more can I ask for?” she grins.
They are looking to tie the knot in early 2020 after a 3-year long engagement.
“I wanted to have a long engagement firstly because we were both still very young and secondly because I wanted to be absolutely sure of this. A decision like marriage is not something you can go back from. Now, after almost 2 years of being together, I can say for sure this is what I want for the rest of my life. And I’m glad we had a long courtship period. It’s like having a parent-approved boyfriend. All the perks without having to sneak around! It’s the best thing!”
The High School Sweethearts
You know what how people say you don’t marry the first guy you date? Those rules don’t apply to Anisha and Shaurya. This couple who has been together since ninth grade are each other’s first loves.
“We've literally watched each other grow up,” Anisha, a marketing professional from Delhi smiles. “He’s my first crush, first relationship, first love, first kiss!”
Being together for 8 years now, the couple isn’t going to get married any time soon.
“Shaurya is abroad doing his masters. I have just begun to settle down and do well in my career. We’re still finding our feet. Both of us feel it’s important to spend time on ourselves and our personal growth before getting married and so we are working towards that. Plus, I know I’ll be moving abroad to be with him when we get married. I want to be sure we are mentally and financially independent enough for that.” she says.
When asked if marriage was an important factor in determining commitment, she laughs. “We’ve been committed to each other ever since we’ve known each other. I don’t see how signing a piece of paper affects that at all. We’ve been through the ups and downs, laughter and tears. We’ve even done long distance! And he’s been by my side, rock solid. And that was a choice we made. We stuck together because we wanted to, not because we were bound to do so. I think to me, that's a bigger testimony to our commitment than marriage ever will be.”
The One That Got Away
While time spent together in a relationship may mean different things for different people, sometimes it can become a deal breaker.
For 27-year-old media professional Payal from Mumbai, the breaking point came 7 years into the relationship.
“When you’ve spent this much time together, you believe that a deeper commitment is the natural next step. After we’d been together for about 5 years, I tried to have the talk multiple times. But every time I’d bring the ‘where are we headed?’ question up, he’d carefully avoid answering it. I knew he had some emotional baggage and I loved him very much so I was willing to wait for the time it would take for him to be ready. But eventually, the lack of clarity about what our future would be, began to take a toll on our present as well.” she sighs.
“After 7 years you’d think you know someone like that back of your hand. You know what they like, what they can’t stand, what their dreams are made of. You can predict what they’ll say or how they will react to a certain situation. But I could feel all of it slipping away. If after all this time, I had to lie awake at night wondering what lay in store for us, we weren’t doing what I thought we were.” she says.
“Then I had no choice but to let it go. It was painful, to say the least. Brutal, even. It felt like losing a limb or a piece of your soul. In so many ways, he was a part of who I am. Losing him was losing everything I was when I was with him. But it had to be done. It had become too toxic for both of us. We were together only because we didn't know how not to be. And I think both of us deserve better than that."
So as you can see, there is no one size fits all definition when it comes to time in a relationship. For some couples, it takes a few weeks to know they should be together forever and for some, it takes years to realise they're better off apart.
The most important thing is that you and your partner feel secure and happy together, irrespective of whether that means there’s a wedding in your future or not.