Relationship Time Frames: Is this Normal? Really?

Is there some email sent out that details appropriate time frames for the following?

  • How long it should be before a relationship gets serious?
  • How long it’s appropriate to wait for a proposal?
  • How long it should take to get over a breakup?
  • How long it should take to start dating someone after a breakup or other massive life change?

An episode of Bones that dealt with two characters seeing each other again just suggested that both should be over it – and on to other people – within a month. A month! The characters originally had an off-and-on relationship that spanned years that ended with one of them balking on a move-in-together situation. ((I do realize that within the context of the show, the characters were most certainly Not Over It – but that those ritual pressures were invoked still tweaks me.))

This is just my personal experience/kvetch. But it takes me years to get over a breakup. Yes, right after my divorce I did go on a few dates – social pressure to immediate replace my “broken” status and flagging self-esteem got to me. The dates did nothing to improve my self-esteem. Social pressures were alleviated when I stopped socializing with awful, unsupportive people that thought dates signified my worth in some messed up female competitive structure. Out in healthy-person land no one pressured me to take up with a new guy – it’s like decent people thought of me as a rich human being without needing additional status.

It took me more than a year to get over my ex husband, even as I understood how destructive he was for me. Other heartbreaks over the years – months for months, weeks for weeks, and a few where I still kind of want to know even while I don’t want to know what the hell happened.

It does seem like a lot of people end long-term relationships and then rush headlong into the next one. While I often thought my fatness reduced who might be interested in me making for fewer dating choices, taking the aerial view I actually tend to get snapped up within days of obvious detox/healing periods. My current husband and I started dating 30 months after my divorce was final – and I didn’t really get off the ground dating anyone before then. A lot of one-or-two date wonders, but nothing that really took off. Looking back, that was about right – I finished grieving for the marriage, I got a good look at who my friends weren’t and I came to accept that I had a whole lot of other – new! – problems to resolve. Boyfriends tended to stick around a long time – much longer than the 3 months I saw happen with most teen and early twenties types. (Now, in my 30s I assume a dating relationship will last at least a year. I gather from my single friends, however, that this is not true – I have no way of knowing. I’ve only dated my partner in my 30s.)

Also puzzling: because they didn’t get married/stay together, one character concluded “They weren’t meant to be.”

Um, what? In fiction universe they were meant to be. There is no not meant to be. You meet the people you break up with in order to learn something about yourself or a least about not being a jerk. It’s not on Eros if you don’t learn those lessons. Really, how are you going to assess what you learned when your brain is all wrapped up with looking for a serotonin boost or some ice cream?