the timeline myth

When I was a young teenager I thought I’d be married in my early twenties. I’d definitely be a homeowner and my life would be sorted. That by twenty five or so I’d have popped out a baby or two. Obviously things didn’t go as “planned”

Even more obvious than that is that that’s a good thing. I’m certainly glad I dodged any martial bullets, and I’m elated that I was able to reach a point in my life where I actually considered whether or not kids were for me – they aren’t – before just having some because I thought it was what I should do. I also found that homeownership really didn’t fit my life, at least not at this point.

It feels like so often we do things only because it’s what we think we’re supposed to do. I thought I had to be married and having kids in my twenties or else I was a failure of some sort. That there was this timeline that my life had to follow.

In your twenties and not married? How often do you get asked when you’ll be tieing the knot? Even if you’re not dating anyone seriously. It’s like it’s more important for you to cross off that milestone than do anything else. There were times when shortly after Jeff and I started dating people would ask when we were having kids. Like it was a given that that is what I wanted to do with my life. It’s such bull crap. It doesn’t make anyone feel good to be asked those invasive questions, especially since they’re normally asked by those who have no right to be asking in the first place.

The idea for this post stemmed from a private message I received on instagram about how long it took Jeff and I to move in together, and how reading that it took us three years gave her hope. I wanted to write something that I, myself, may have needed to read. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve googled things like “how long do you wait to move in together?” and “how long do you date until you get married?” All the top results felt so phony, the answers so cheesy and sometimes even manipulative. All I’ve ever wanted to hear is that everyone has their own timeline. There is no wrong amount of time for people to wait to do things.

My parents were married within four months of their first date. Forty one years later, they’re still married (and cute as heck together, I might add!) Clearly that worked out for them. That doesn’t mean that everyone should do that. It doesn’t make mine and Jeff’s relationship any less real, important or stable because we decided to wait longer. It doesn’t mean we love each other any less. It just means some people need more time to make big leaps.

So meet someone new, move in together within a few months.
Meet someone, fall in love, wait three years to share a home together.
Get married.
Don’t get married.
Have kids.
Don’t have kids.
IT DOESN’T MATTER, as long as it’s what right for you. No one has any right to make you feel any less for your decisions or the amount of time it takes you to do something.

I feel like I could keep writing this post forever. But let’s keep it relatively short and to the point…

There is no one timeline that works for everyone.

This applies to everything – driving, college, relationships, moving out of your parents house, marriage, kids, jobs. As long as you’re happy and doing your best that’s all that matters. You do you! 

Author: Kaylah

Just a green (....sometimes blue) haired gal from Cleveland, Ohio! A collector of weird things. Plant Enthusiast. Wanderer. Beachcomber. Forever longing for the desert.

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  • Yes x 1,000!! I’m 25 and felt the same way about where I “should” be now. But I ignored that timeline and never been happier! I actually met someone 3months ago or so and we already live together and it’s perfect for us. Both of us are super happy. People can judge but I really don’t care 🙂 My life slogan is “you do you”. 💕💕💕

  • Thank you for this beautifully honest post.
    I turned 25 this year and it scared me. All of a sudden I thought that I was meant to have it sorted, where’s my house? where’s my wedding? but then I realised that I didn’t need any of that to be happy. Being happy doesn’t come with a manual.

  • Yes! When I was a kid, I too thought I would accomplish things like marriage, kids, and home ownership long before I actually did. And now I too feel like a dodged a few bullets to be where I am. And for the people who ask those kinds of questions, I’ve learned nothing is ever enough. When you get married it’s “Okay, now when are you having kids?” Have kids before marraige? Then it’s “Okay, now when are you getting married?” Married with kids? “When are you having more?” It’s always something.

  • Hi! What a great post! I totally get your point. I’m getting married soon, after eight years long a relationship with my boyfriend. We’ve met each other during high school, studied at a uni in the same city and moved in together just three years ago. I’m really considering to to have a sign at our wedding saying something like “whoever asks bride or groom about babies has to pay a fine/doesn’t get any food and drinks” because I soooooo hate these mega stupid questions, especially from people who should really not be interested in my family plans. The most recent one came from my friend of my mother-in-law-to-be, who showed me a picture of her grandson “for inspiration”… Any tips about what answer you give to such people?

    • “For inspiration”?!?!?! Oh my gosh. How awkward.

      I really have no idea what to say. No matter how many times I’ve been asked these things it still somehow always takes me by surprise. I normally just say I already have kids (cats + dog), and try to laugh it off.

  • Yes. Yes. Yes. This really resonates with me. Especially with the changes I’m currently making in my life. I used to desperately want to be married and have kids. I couldnt wait to get started, and like you said, I thought it was a set milestone everyone strived to reach.

    Unfortunately, I committed myself to a relationship that I wasn’t 100% sure was right for me out of fear of that dreaded time clock. I wanted it to work so badly because I didnt want to miss my opportunity to start a family before I hit 30.

    I’m now 31, childless, newly single, and as of this coming Saturday will be living alone again for the first time in 8 years. But you know? I’m happy with all of that. I’ve learned a lot about myself over the past few years, and have decided that kids aren’t for me. I’m happy being an aunt. I’ve also realized that marriage is something I don’t think is for me. Perhaps someday I’ll change my mind on that point too, but for the past couple of years…its an idea that Ive been thinking about.

    The older I get, the more I reflect on myself and my own path. It excites me to be free to make my life the one I want it to be…even if it doesn’t mean hitting traditional milestones like having kids and getting married. And who knows, maybe I’ll change my mind about those things too at some point. I cherish my individuality and freedom to make those choices for myself 😊

  • Thank you so much for this post, I needed this! Although I’m a bit younger than you are (nearly 25), I’m also often under the pressure that I put on myself – like, I want to marry and have kids but I needed this little reminder that I have soo much time for all this 🙂 I should remind myself more often that things take time and it is okay the way it is. (also, I’ve been following your blog for about 5 years or so and this is the first time that I’m commenting on a post – this is how happy it made me!)
    greetings from Austria 🙂

  • My guy and I have been together for 12.5 years, live in an apartment with our cats, and are not planning on getting married or having kids.

    Some of my favorite judgments surrounding our relationship are:
    -the relationship isn’t serious and we must not really love each other if we don’t want to marry each other (???!!!!!)
    -you’ll regret your decision not to have kids one day
    -you’ll change your mind eventually and have kids (ummm….I’m almost 40…I THINK I’m good. As is a 25-year-old who doesn’t want kids. Adults of all ages ARE capable of knowing what they want).
    I guess my point is, and excuse my language, FUCK THAT SHIT. You do what you want, when you want to do it, at the time you feel like doing it.

    You guys are cute and your life is cute and that’s all that matters! xoxox

    • No, that is honestly the exact three words I wanted to type in this post. Just trying to keep it PG. 😉

      ❤️❤️❤️

  • 100%. My now husband and I were together 7 years before we got married and together 4 years before we moved in together. People did ask me the same questions about when I was going to do what and it actually made me more reluctant to get married because I didn’t want to follow that timeline. But I love my partner in life and when we were ready, that’s when we did things. Like you said, that’s what made us happy. We haven’t been married a year yet and I don’t get the question of kids but the even more presumptiuous, “when you have kids” I usually say, “oh kids aren’t for us” and that’s met with a “you’ll probably change your minds.” I’m not sure why it upsets people so much that maybe we don’t want that life but I shrug it off because it’s our lives and no one else’s.
    Thank you for this post!

  • YES! I’ve been with my significant other for 8 years now, and family is constantly asking when we’ll get married. My response is always, “when we have enough money to take a 2-month long honeymoon to travel across Asia.” Because honestly? The wedding is whatever to me. Neither of us are religious, and marriage isn’t a huge deal. It’s only a big deal to them. I just want to get a sick honeymoon out of it.

    (Of course, my family always hates this answer, but oh well!)

    In talking to friends, it’s so apparant that we all have different ideas about relationship timelines, but it’s also obvious that we fit the typical “millenial” rationale about why we tend to get married later – it’s freakin’ expensive, we have loans, and we’d rather travel than get married. But we all respect each other, even if some of us don’t want kids, some of us do, etc. Everyone should be able to do that!

  • Well said and keep strong, because I’m 33 and the baby questions only get worse as you get older. I have to deal w/ my doctors asking me invasive questions & judging my “decision” to not have kids. I live in California, yet my doctors will follow the baby question with how many sexual partners i currently have and what kind of birth control i am using. Answers: 1 (for over 4 years / my domestic partner) and 2: None – I have severe endometriosis and they know this, but it’s ingrained for them to think that if I’m not married and having kids, then i must be “slutting” around and WHY AM I NOT HAVING PROTECTION IF I’M NOT MARRIED? the scandal of it all!! ….. *eye roll*.

  • I’m 29 and I relate to this so much! I’m not even in a relationship and have no particular desire to be yet so many people can’t wrap their heads around that. I’ve known my whole life that I never ever wanted to be a mother, and got so sick of hearing total strangers tell me I’d change my mind once I got older – I still get told that, so at this point I don’t know how much older I have to get before I’ll be taken seriously. I find it weird how pushy people get over things that are absolutely zero of their business. Being in your 20s is still so young, I don’t understand the rush even if those things are what you want, it’s better to take your time and be sure of your choices. This is such a great entry Kayla!

    • Thanks, Sydney.

      Seriously, it’s ridiculous how hard it is to assert that you know whats right for you, your body, and your life. Some people want kids, some people don’t. I will never understand why its such a hard concept to grasp.

  • I loved this post!!!! I would love to read more honest posts like this! (Not that the others aren’t) I hope you know what I mean. Thanks for sharing!

  • I always viewed adulthood very different from just own a house, have kids, etc. I think that could be because my Aunt has always rented, and she never had kids. My Uncle was married, has a home, but no kids. His wife passed away, and he is now in a long term relationship with a woman- not married, no kids, different homes. Everyone does their own thing and I think that can be great. Sometimes sharing a home doesn’t work for everyone. Sometimes that is exactly what a couple needs.

    Although I feel like money should never be reason why people don’t get married. You don’t need a fancy wedding guys.

    • That’s so interesting and proves the point that talking about – and just exposure to – different ‘lifestyles’ normalizes it. I hope that future generations will never have to have this conversation because people without children, couples who don’t live together, happily single women, etc will just be something they grew up around and thought nothing of!

  • I really want to thank you for this post. You’ve always been so open and honest, but this type of thing is never really talked about (by anyone).
    I have been in a relationship for almost 14 years now. Yes…1-4 🙂 I was 22 when we got together, and envisioned we would be married with kids by the time I was 30 (because that was my timeline). Well…we still don’t live together, no two legged kids (we did get a dog for my 30th birthday, and she lives with him), no marriage…and while I was initially freaked out (because everyone around me was freaking out), I am totally good with it. We love each other, we see each other a few times a week, and we make it work. It may not work for everyone, but for now, it works for us. Should I also mention I still live with my mumma? haha. Don’t set limits on yourself…do what works for you. Don’t worry about what other people may say…because they will say things – it’s just not up to them. Happiness isn’t based on a deadline.

    • “I was initially freaked out (because everyone around me was freaking out)”
      THIS. THIS. THIS! This is why its so important to talk about these things. I’ve felt the same way. I do hope to marry Jeff some day but I’m perfectly fine waiting until the time is right but there is SO MUCH PRESSURE on it that it sometimes feels like I’m failing because we aren’t married yet. I don’t want to feel like that, nor do I want anyone else to ever feel like that.

  • I’m so glad you posted this. I am 100% on board with you and this crap that we “should be” doing this or that. Or should not. You SHOULD have babies and right away, at that! (No thanks!) You SHOULD buy a house because renting is a waste of money! (Are you gonna come mow my lawn and pay for a new oil heater when it breaks?) You should NOT start your own business. It’s too risky! (Oh ok should I sit behind a desk in misery my whole life just waiting for the weekend?) UGH!!!! Success SHOULD NOT be measured in such ways. It’s a trick and a trap. (YOU might not want to go on forever about this but I WILL. haha!!) I’m with ya girl!

  • UGH. I know this all too well. Feels like as soon as Shawn and I got married, people were asking us when we were going to be having kids. Um…. never! Then when you say that, they always go “Oh, you’re so young though, you’ll change your mind!” Hm, nope. Never.
    We’ve actually known each other since I was a senior in high school… so when people ask how long we’ve been together, the answer is always a confusing mix of “Oh, well we met 12 years ago… we’ve been together for 8+ years… we’ve been married for almost 4 years…” And then people usually just stare at me blankly… haha

  • Amen and well said. We’re all different and when we are able to stop comparing and conforming we find our true happiness. I just love your blog!

  • I completely agree. I started dating my partner right before I turned 18. We’ve been together 7 1/2 years and we just moved in together. Being a hairstylist, all of my clients always ask when we’re getting married. My response is, “we’re happy, marriage won’t change much.” And yeah, it’ll happen one day, but there’s no rush! Don’t listen to what people have to say, as long as it feels right for you and your situation. 🙂

  • Such a great post!!
    My boyfriend and I have been together for 18 months and bought a house together after 7-10 (it took a long time to go through). So many people had opinions about it being too fast but for us it just worked. He was buying his own place and we would have moved in together after a year or so anyway so we decided to do it together. ‘Friends’ suggested they should spend more time with him and give their approval before I made such a big decision about MY life, it was bonkers.
    Anyway we’ve decided that marriage isn’t for us, we aren’t religious and we don’t want to spend money on one day, we’re happy with our family growing one fur baby at a time.
    I did tell my friends that I wanted a fake hen (bachelorette) party or baby shower, because why should I miss out? I celebrate my friends choices to get married and give them gifts, why shouldn’t they support my choice not to? They laughed and shrugged it off but I was serious, any excuse for cake!

    • Heheh! I hope your friends do end up throwing you a party! I see no reason why they shouldn’t. I’m all for any excuse to throw a party, and celebrate with friends!

  • I love this post! It’s so important that I keep reminding myself to not compare what’s happening (or not happening) in my life with others around me.

  • This is so true! people have their own timelines for their lives. I used to look up that kind of stuff too, but in the end we just do what is right for us. I am living with my boyfriend now after a few years of dating, we moved in together. That might not be right for some people, but it was right for us. Great post!

  • If I had lived my life according to what a very young 20 something me thought of as “successful” I would be missing out on the things I do have. My life is drastically different than what I planned. And I couldn’t be happier. I’m so glad you found your happiness! You do you, sister.

  • Yes yes yes! I wish people were told this when they were younger! I have never wanted marriage and kids. I’m lucky that I just knew and didn’t care what people thought but it baffles everyone I meet and I can’t help but wish they were more open minded about life, y’know? Also I only moved in with my boyfriend after 7 years so…. 😬

  • Omg I’m so glad you posted this- sometimes it takes reading something for it to really sink in! We impose the worst “rules” on ourselves but they can create such a mind prison.

  • I love this post. Such wise thinking! It took one failed marriage to find the love of my life and I remarried at 32, after living together for a couple of years. My current husband and I were good friends for a long time before that, so we officially moved in together about a year after we took our relationship up a notch. The first marriage ended partly because I didn’t want kids. He changed his mind a few years in and decided he wanted them. Plus he hung a bunch of religious bulls*** over my head trying to coerce me into pregnancy. Trust me, being married to the wrong person and going through the motions because you’re supposed to is truly miserable. One of my good friends and her partner have never married despite being together nearly 15 years, but they just recently had a baby that was planned. They’re still eternally committed even if there is no ring! There’s no rule book for relationships, and screw the people who think there is.

    Home ownership isn’t for everyone either. Been there done that twice, and now we rent. 🙂 Fixing a broken sump pump at 10PM in a muddy crawlspace after a downpour because the standing water is inches from your furnace is no piece of cake…that’s one of the downsides I experienced with owning.

    We hope to buy a camper van someday, and be a couple of childfree nomads with our cats!

    • Eeep! Glad to hear it all worked out for you.

      We too are definitely considering camper life at some point. Not any time soon but it’s more of a possibility than children! 😛

  • This is such an important post. I don’t want to have kids and I have known that since I was a teenager, but it’s affected how I’ve been treated by certain members of my family. My two cousins both have multiple kids and when I’ve tried to reach out to them to deepen our relationship, they say that they’re busy and I wouldn’t understand. Whenever something comes up that needs to be done, I’m always volunteered to do it because “Gabbi doesn’t have anything going on in her life.” They don’t accept the fact that I choose to have dogs as my kids, make fun of me for buying my dogs presents for their birthdays and Christmas, that I threw them a party for their birthdays, roll their eyes when I’m so concerned about them. I don’t want to get married either and I’ve been dating my boyfriend for five years and it’s the same thing. I struggle really hard with feeling like it’s okay because of the adversity I constantly face from my family and friends. On the one hand, I know that it’s okay and my choice, but on the other hand, I constantly hear the negative and question it. It’s hard.

    And PS – who wants to own a home and have the responsibility of fixing it and all that crap?! Not me!

    • I feel ya! That’s such a bummer though.

      And yeah, one of my favorite things about being a renter is being able to just say “hey, this is broke” and someone will come fix it with no cost to me!

  • This is so important. I’m turning 28 this year and finally, just a little bit aways from completing my bachelor’s degree. I finally moved in with my boyfriend after dating for 3 years. Many of my other friends are already married with children, others are already established in a career. But doing things on my time line feels right for me.

  • I agree with this so much! I have been married for 4 years, we have been together 7 in total, and people keep asking why we haven’t had kids yet. Like do they expect me to say “Hmm. good point, we’ll get started on that right away!” ?? I’ll probably have them at some point but right now I just don’t feel like it. Which is another thing a lot of people don’t understand. Also on a similarly related topic, I think it’s crazy how you’re “supposed” to figure out what you want to do as a career when you’re a teenager and then start college for that thing right after high school. That’s what I did, and it ended up ok, but I kinda wish I would have just taken some time, tried different things and figured out more about myself first than diving straight into a random career.

    • Hahah! Right!? “Oh thanks for reminding me! I’ve been meaning to have a few kids! Totally forgot!”

      And yeah, totally agree with you there!! It is really nutty that you’re not even old enough to drink or live on your own but you should definitely know what you want to be FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFEEEEE!

  • This is the article that should be pinned to every girls wall. I mean that. My daughter is always comparing her life at 22 to what mine was at 22 (and glamorizing it). She would be so much happier if she would worry less about what she thinks she should be doing right now. Young women need more voices like this in their corners.

  • You and I were on the EXACT SAME timeline, I swear. Now I’m almost 27, single, no sight of a man or children anywhere on the horizon, and working on my masters in biology and working with alligators. When I was 17, my plan was 2 year art school, married, kids, and life together by 25. I can’t even imagine what my life would be like if I were married or had kids, but it sure as heck wouldn’t be what it is now. And I couldn’t be happier about it! There’s something really liberating about jumping the rails of your timeline train and running off the tracks. Thanks for making this post. It’s so nice knowing I’m not the only one with a timeline that I broke away from.

  • Oh yeah! I totally feel this post! My dad always used to ask me when I was getting married, as if the fact that I was single and hadn’t met anyone who wanted to marry me (let alone who I wanted to marry) was irrelevant. I always found that so weird, like it didn’t matter who I married, as long as I was married.

    These days I’m happy in a relationship, and we’re pretty open about not planning to get married or have kids. I kind of feel like “you’ll regret it when you’re older” is a really bad reason for bringing a child into the world, and I’m horrified by the thought of spending a years wages on one fancy party and a dress. I kind of feel like the people who ask these questions usually do so because they lack the imagination to consider that someone might be happy with a different life from them. But it’s still a bit weird and intrusive to ask!

    Anyway, thank you for writing this post. I always feel it’s great when people talk about stuff like this, because I suspect there’s loads of us out there who feel the same way, but don’t realise it because no-one ever talks about it!

    • Oh my goodness, yes, that is literally one of the worst reasons I’ve heard. It never fails to make me go “wuuuut?!”

      And yes, that’s exactly why I wanted to write this! <3

  • I love this! Thanks for this post. I recently sold a home that I’d bought at a time when I’d thought I was “supposed to” (age 26). I’m now living across the country in an apartment living a totally different life. There’s no doubt it was the right call for me, other peoples’ timelines be damned. I’m happy you’ve crafted the timeline that works for you and your life, It’s an awesome feeling!

  • i’m glad you posted this, I’m actually working on a similar blog post about having kids, etc. something that i’ve noticed is that people will say.. “when are you going to have kids” vs “do you want to have kids”…. almost like its a necessity to life or something…. also I’ve noticed that people will say something like…. “well you’re selfish for not wanting kids”… and it’s usually the parents or grandparents that say those things… gah. this hasn’t happened to me but just an observation. i think more and more people especially in our generation.. the millennials.. are starting to understand that they DO NOT need to follow “society’s plan”… i just hope more people catch on .. especially my younger sisters generation etc…

  • AMEN!!!!
    i turned 46 in early july. somehow i managed to turn down marriage five times (yes, five). i only own a house because i got flooded out of my fantastic apartment and refused to give my two dogs up so i had to buy a house. i’ve never given birth or adopted children. my life is wonderful and lovely, full of joy. some people just don’t get that a woman (or man!) can be extremely living life as it comes to them…happy doing what they want, when they want.
    sort of ironically, i have finally met “my person” and believe that marrying him is the perfect thing to do. not because i “should” be married (my mother taught me to never let anyone should on me), but because i want to spend the rest of my life with him.
    hope others stay true to what is best for them, on their own terms. everyone has their own timeline that is perfect for them.
    🙂