Relationship timelines are extremely subjective. Some couples wait a decade before marrying. Others tie a knot within a year.
The spectrum of opinions is just as wide when it comes to dating (if you've ever gone on a date with someone who asked to make things official within a week, you'll know what we mean).
YouGov surveyed 1,057 Singapore residents to ask them how long they should date before hitting milestones like getting engaged, going on vacation together, or meeting the parents.
And like those surveyed, we — a recently-married woman (Diane) and an engaged man (Nicholas) — had thoughts.
"How long should you wait before saying I love you?"
Findings: 63 per cent of Singapore residents would say "I love you" before a year, with the highest proportion (17 per cent) admitting that they would say it in one to two weeks. 20 per cent of men would say "I love you" within a week, while only 15 per cent of women would do the same.
Nicholas: I can agree with the results here — I am definitely guilty of saying "I love you" very early in the relationship. Until my current significant other said, "Do you really mean it?"
Diane: Ted Mosby is that you?
Nicholas: I do have a love-hate relationship with Ted, but thankfully I don't share his habit of going back to the same person again and again. You agree with the girls' side of the survey? Only one in seven girls would say "I love you" within the first two weeks of dating.
Diane: It definitely didn't take me a year to fall in love with my now-husband, but it took me like 1.5 years to say it so yeah LOL. Not that I wanted to be stingy with my affection, but more like, I needed more than a couple weeks of dating to differentiate love from infatuation.
Nicholas: Mad respect wei. I am curious to know how he reacted after you said it. I know when I first heard my fiance say the three magical words after a few months… It felt very special.
"How long should you wait before meeting the parents?"
Findings: 22 per cent of Singaporeans would wait at least a year before meeting each other's family. Five per cent would only meet each other's family after getting married.
Nicholas: Yeah, I would say wait a couple months for sure. Later if the relationship doesn't work out in the first few months, won't be so awkward. But not like one whole year lah — if you really wait so long to intro, maybe red flag sia haha.
Diane: Even a year feels pretty long to me! Imagine dating someone for a year, only to find out that their family is racist is or that your mother-in-law expects you to serve her hand and foot or something.
Nicholas: I've heard stories of friends breaking up after a year plus together because of that issue. Just found something they cannot agree with. Yeah, if you can meet the parents after a few months in, try to lah — puts you in their good books too. Parents confirm want to know who their children are dating.
"How long should you wait before going on holiday together?"
Findings: 21 per cent of Singaporeans said they would wait a year; meanwhile, five per cent said they'd wait just one to two weeks, while 20 per cent said they'd need to be married first.
Nicholas: Holiday though I don't see why it can't be as early as a few months in — Good to know your new bae's habits when you stay together. Later if angry never put toilet seat down how leh?
Diane: Hmm, I don't think going on holiday together is a mandatory milestone. Not everyone can afford it (due to work, finances, or other responsibilities) and Covid-19 made it a lot harder! I guess you could file toilet-related differences under "for better or for worse" if you get married before going overseas together.
Nicholas: Doesn't even have to be overseas, can staycation in Singapore too. For me it's really more of a preview of what life would be like if bae and I were married (without the added burden of life's responsibilities yet).
Diane: Hahah IDK leh, I think three days in 5-star resort in Sentosa feels pretty different from a month of staying with your partner and in-laws, which is also pretty different from staying together in a 4-room flat while paying off loans. Or staying together for 10 years with three kids in tow.
I think the key is to be with someone who wants to make it work as much as you do — "for better or for worse" — which usually means not letting the small things turn into big things, and attacking the big things together rather than attacking each other.
But ummm I just started staying together with my husband this year so lemme revisit this once we've gotten past our differences concerning ideal aircon temperature hahhahaha.
Nicholas: Teach me, sensei.
"How long should you wait before sex?"
Findings: 49 per cent of Singaporeans would have sex within a year of dating; 20 per cent would save it for marriage.
Nicholas: Where got Singaporeans wait one whole entire year or after marriage. Who are they surveying? — Unless I am the outlier. But a few months into the relationship makes sense.
Denise: Got lah!! Some people are religious, or have personal reasons, or are super afraid to get pregnant before marriage hahaha (babies are expensive ok).
Nicholas: Yeah okay, you definitely have a point there. Just shocked that it is a big majority of Singaporeans who answered "a year or more". Also, who are those people saying "don't know".
Diane: Yeah, regardless of which camp you fall into, this should be something you decide on (and inform your partner about) before the heat of the moment!
Nicholas: And not be pressured into!
"How long should you wait before moving in together?"
Findings: Only 39 per cent of Singapore residents would move in together before marriage.
Nicholas: Finally got something in this survey I agree with. To me personally I would wait a few years or after marriage.
Diane: Yeah lor, if you can live with your family first, save that rental fee for your resale flat or BTO.
Nicholas: On the other hand, if renting a place together would save you a couple bucks, it makes sense — now that's an actual preview into life living together!
"How long should you wait before buying a home together?"
Findings: Only 25 per cent of Singapore residents would buy a home together within a year of dating.
Nicholas: Who are the jokers that said they will buy a home with their significant other anything less than a year. This is akin to getting married leh, I think having to wait a couple years makes sense to me.
Diane: I'd love to meet the one per cent who answered "after one to two weeks".
"How long should you wait before getting engaged?"
Findings: 23 per cent of Singapore residents would wait at least a year before getting engaged.
Diane: Sounds about right, but on a more exciting note — two per cent would get engaged after one to two weeks of dating, and eight per cent "need to be married" before getting engaged?? Please explain.
Nicholas: They should have left that answer out specifically for this question. But yeah, at the very least, there should be discussions about the future of your relationship after a year or two.
"How long should you wait before getting married?"
Findings: The highest proportion of Singapore residents (22 per cent) said they would wait two years, while 38 per cent said they would wait a year or less.
Nicholas: I was surprised to see quite a few trigger happy couples in the survey looking to tie the knot within the year. I'm on the side of "wait a few years". I'm getting married this year, and I have been with my significant other for just over four years? But then again, we could have said "I do" earlier if not for the crazy pandemic.
Diane: Hmm technically I'm in the "wedding within a year" camp, if you count from when we started publicly acknowledging each other as boyfriend and girlfriend. But we'd been friends and had explored dating long before that, so it still felt like we took our time.
I'd like to ask the people who answered this survey how they define "dating/in a new relationship" because that affects the starting point for all of these milestones.
Nicholas: For my case, I actually had to officially "ask" my significant other to be "steady" so that is when we count our anniversary, not when we started dating. My fiance is also the first relationship I had where she wasn't a mutual friend at first — but that's a first date story for another article.
"How long should you wait before having a baby?"
Findings: 20 per cent of Singapore residents said "after marriage".
Nicholas: Call me old fashioned, but bringing new life into the world is a super major commitment and should be after marriage lah — unless you really got your entire life together (I know I haven't). So I definitely agree with the majority. Since you just got hitched, have people asked you when you are getting a baby?
Diane: Wow, I'm shook that only 20 per cent answered "need to be married"! Maybe Singapore is more liberal than I thought — or maybe the respondents answered wrongly?? I'm not even ready to have a kid within a year of marriage, let alone within a year of dating (or within two weeks of dating, like one per cent of respondents answered).
This article was first published in Wonderwall.sg.