How is cuppul formed
December 22, 2016 4:49 PM   Subscribe

How do relationships that don't start out as friendships develop over time? I know that every situation/person/relationship is different, but I think it would still be useful to me to hear others' experiences with how things look/work as time goes on.

I'm a 31-year-old hetero woman. All of my past serious relationships started as friendships. I'm finding that dating people I don't know at all from the get-go (i.e., whom I met via dating apps) is a very different experience- there's a lot more getting to know you that happens and there isn't already an infrastructure for hanging out. When I dated people I already knew, it necessitated a transition from friendship into a new, pretty clearly-defined romantic phase of the relationship, whereas it feels more fuzzy when it starts as kind of "testing romance." It seems like it happens more slowly, whereas my past relationships already had the foundation of friendship for the defined relationship to start pretty much as soon as things got romantic. I feel like I need to recalibrate my expectations from the kinds of relationships I'm used to. Getting a sense of others' norms would be helpful to understand in relation to my own as I navigate this.

I've gone on dates with maybe 15-20 people since breaking up with my ex and whittled it down to a few that I'm more interested in seeing where things go with. I'm comfortable with things just being what they are at a particular moment in time with these guys and I'm not putting too much pressure on things. I'm not looking for a roadmap for my own behavior; in fact, my motto has basically been "I do what I want" and I've paced these interactions as it feels right to me.

The kind of answers that would be helpful: Someone posted a comment in a relationship thread that said something along the lines of, kissing is typical after date X, it's common for things to progress to sex after date Y. This was useful to me, even though I think my norms were a bit different. In the last question I posted, it was helpful to see that many people saw sleeping over as something that happens once you know your partner a little better. But what about things like the frequency of hanging out or texting as time goes on? How do the kinds of activities you're doing together or the kinds of things you're talking about change across weeks or months? At what point do you start having conversations about defining the relationship, and how do those go? What kinds of factors alter whether something's moving slower or faster? I've seen the Relationship Escalator and its critiques, and I'm interested in people's experiences of the timeline of different parts of stages 1-3.
posted by deus ex machina to Human Relations (5 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

Well just my experience as a hetero woman in her 30s. I met my boyfriend through online dating and have been together just shy of two years now.

He texted me everyday for several weeks before we went out. I thought it a little strange but he was nice and not pushy so I went with it. Plus I was also going on (super low key) dates with other guys at the time so wasn't all worked up about it.

First date (a Friday night) we went to dinner. Talked about basics - who his/my friends were, his/my hobbies. Since we texted before so much I had a working knowledge of his basic life but asked more details (how did you meet your friends, where did you learn to do X, etc) Kinda formal for an online first date but we had texted so much, plus he's rather old-fashioned (like me!). No kiss but I gave him peck on the cheek.

Date two was the next weekend but he still texted me every night to chat a little. First kiss at end of date two. Was nice. He smelled(s) so good!

Kept seeing each other once a week on the weekend - he lives 45 min away though. We texted every night before bed. Slept with him around six weeks in at my discretion - he wasn't pushy at all. A few days before that though we had acknowledged to each other we weren't dating anyone else. Not through a formal conversation but just through light-hearted banter (just worked out this way, nothing wrong with a formal convo). He meets my friends about two months in.

About 4 mos in I tell him flat out (but in a pleasant way) I'm not looking to get married anytime soon and I don't want kids and he says he's on board with all that. I think this is when we started seeing each other twice a week, maybe it was 3mos in not sure. He races so I start to attend some of his races.

I meet his mother at 6 mos. We take our first vacation together at 7 mos. I am the first to say I love you at 8 mos (he immediately says it back!!) I attend holidays at his family's at 10 mos.

When we first start dating alot of thought went into dates on both out ends - didn't want to keep doing just dinner and movies so planned seeing sports games, bowling, go to zoo, see caves, plays, etc. Just over time you get used to the person and you get incorporated into their daily life so now dates aren't as fancy but just being with him is relaxing. I will say took a good year before I got 100% used to him in my bed and it didn't affect my sleep! But I was single a good long time before him so that played a part I'm sure.

We have always texted everyday since before we met. But I have yet to speak to him over the phone! True story!

Hope this helps
posted by WinterSolstice at 8:07 PM on December 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

When I started dating my partner who I met online, we kissed on the first date, mainly communicated by text, and saw each other a couple of times a week. We didn't speak on the phone much to start off with, and it took many months before we spoke every day (well after we were at the hanging out and staying over frequently stage). We met each other's significant family and friends about 2-4 months after we first met. We've been together for a few years now and are very committed but when we're apart we speak at most once a day on the phone. We now spend about 3/4 of our free time together.

My friend started dating someone a couple of months before me. They saw each other less frequently (about weekly) for a long time but spoke much more often on the phone sooner - at least once a day, and often more. They moved in together after I think a year, possibly a bit longer.

FWIW I'm in the UK and mix in social circles where non-exclusive dating is unheard of outside of the first handful of meetings with online dating.
posted by plonkee at 11:00 AM on December 23, 2016

I think this is one of those situations where YMMV. It depends on what kinds of communication you both like/don't like; what you are both looking for and how ready you are to find it; how much of an asker/guesser you both are, etc.

Anecdotally, my partner and I met online but still managed the friends-first feeling that you've experienced. We both were very upfront about what we were looking for, and even though it was a dating site, we both had someone to *do* specific fun activities with at the top of our lists. Doing those things together made us fast friends, and the mutual attraction made turning it into a romance a no-brainer.

I would lose interest in a romance pretty quickly if the person wasn't also my favorite person to hang out with, so looking for someone who ticked my "friend" boxes online made sense for me. It narrowed my search parameters, which would be a bug to some but I saw it as a feature. Again, YMMV.
posted by headnsouth at 1:32 PM on December 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

I met my husband online. We talked through the site for the first 2 or 3 days, then texted over the next 2 before graduating to a phone call. We talked on the phone maybe twice over the next week before meeting in person. After our second date, we talked daily on the phone. We kissed on our fourth date. I met mom at 7 months and we moved in at a year. Each step felt completely natural and not forced. I think that was the key, that it was all organic.

I agree that it really depends on what you both like. The guy I was talking to before I met my husband texted/called way too much too soon, and it wasn't even stuff that allowed us to get to know each other better. I broke it off solely based on our differences in communication.
posted by BlueBear at 2:31 PM on December 23, 2016

All relationships progress and find their own level. What mainly seems to determine their trajectory and depth (and I'm speaking not just from personal experience, but from research I've done on relationships) is:

- Whether the people in the relationship have goals for they kind of relationship they want -- and whether their goals align.
- Whether their preferences for communication, shared vs. alone time, sex, affection, etc. are compatible.
- Their skill and willingness to ask for what they want and negotiate in a relationship, vs. operating on assumptions or trying to read between the lines about what they each might want.

The last point leads me to ask the original poster: Why are you asking about how other people's relationships progress? Are you trying to gauge what's normal or popular? If so, why?

I ask this because often people try to adjust their behavior in relationships, and assess other people's behavior, based on assumptions about what's normal -- rather than have conversations with their friends, partners, family members and other important people about how they want the relationship to work.

I don't know that this is the case here. But I do know that when people feel emotionally vulnerable (and intimacy can feel terribly vulnerable), having clear conversations and negotiating may seem scarier than guessing. And indeed, mainstream society doesn't encourage such conversations, especially if romance in part of the picture.

(BTW, @deus ex machina, glad you found my writing on the Relationship Escalator useful.)
posted by Amy Gahran at 3:35 PM on March 9, 2017

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