Welcome to the Love Milestones course! There are a few due dates you need to keep in mind:
- First kiss due at 15 years old
- First hook-up due at 17 years old
- First break-up due at 18 years old
Failure to meet these due dates will result in an "F" for upholding societal expectations but an "A" for feeling inadequate and undeserving of love.
As far as extra credit goes, here are some assignments you can complete to boost your grades if you fall short:
- Marriage due at 25-27 years old
- Parenthood due at 29 years old
- Divorce due at 31 years old
If you have any questions about the coursework, we, unfortunately, cannot alter any of these due dates. No late work is accepted.
This analogy of traditional "love milestones" that are often seen in society may be a little dramatic, but there's no doubt that there is an unspoken timeline of events that just have to take place for any individual to feel that they pursued love "correctly."
This ideology should not come as a surprise, since it is common within popular culture and certain mediums like TV, movies, music and even everyday life. The tropes of awkward, youthful first kisses and even more awkward first hook-ups are often depicted in many forms of media, high school dramas especially. As an example, I'm sure most of us have heard this quote from the character Jules Vaughn in the show Euphoria:
"B***h, this isn't the '80s. You need to catch a d**k."
Euphoria is a more recent high school drama, and although that piece of dialogue was placed for comedic effect, it still encourages this idea that high school is the prime time for achieving these milestones in love to remain cool or deserving of love.
To make matters worse, there are often double standards placed within this unspoken timeline. According to an article by Bustle, saying "'I love you' normally comes about five months into a relationship, according to the survey, or if you want to be precise at 144 days." Five months seems like a good point, but what about those who think that five months is too fast? Or too slow? If a person proclaims their love for their partner too fast, they're desperate. If they say it too slow, they're uninterested. It's a twisty turn to reach societal approval when it comes to love.
I reached out to a few students with varying ages and experiences on campus who wished to remain anonymous, asking them their perspectives on late bloomers when it comes to love:
Q: How old were you when you had your first relationship?
Person A: 14
Person B: 20
Person C: 17
Person D: I haven't had one yet.
Q: Do you think there's a "timeline" for stuff like first kisses, break-ups, etc. in life?
Person A: I don't think there's a set "timeline", but I do feel like everybody should experiment and go through that like, trial-and-error process with different people sooner rather than later to find out what they like.
Person B: No, I think putting pressure on people like that is dumb. Also, it shouldn't really matter when you do that stuff. Like, I personally don't care when my friends had their first kiss or something.
Person C: No. Everyone should be able to do what they want to do when they want to do it.
Person D: Definitely not. I know people in their 30's who haven't had their first kisses yet, and they're living life just fine so I don't think following a "timeline" should be that important.
Q: What would you define as "going too fast/slow" in a relationship?
Person A: I feel like if you're going too fast, you're going to know that. Like, if you're super uncomfortable then things are probably too fast. But like, I guess if you're getting bored then it's too slow.
Person B: Going too fast is probably like, saying 'I love you' on the first date, ya know? That's a little too much for just meeting someone. Going too slow is probably when there's no spark anymore between you guys, but I don't think being overly cautious in a relationship is bad either so... I don't really know.
Person C: I mean, I don't think there's such a thing as going too fast or slow. If it feels right, it feels right. I met my partner a year ago and now we're engaged, and I'm pretty okay with that.
Person D: I think that moving too fast is just a walking red flag, but moving too slow can make each person feel unsure. I think what matters is just that each person is comfortable and communicates that.
Q: Do you think the expectations put on individuals to do all these things (i.e. first kisses, break-ups, etc.) presented in the media are harmful?
Person A: I think the way the media portrays them is dramatic for sure, but I think since they're usually just fiction they shouldn't affect someone that much. Live your own life.
Person B: Yeah, I think the like over-the-top relationships in movies and love songs and stuff are ridiculous and not realistic at all.
Person C: Honestly, I just think relationships in TV shows and stuff shouldn't be taken seriously. I can see how they would be harmful though since romance is such a big concept and it's really unrealistic in media.
Person D: Oh definitely. I remember growing up thinking that if I didn't find "The One" when I was like 15, that I had failed at life. That's obviously not the case, but media like that definitely made me doubt myself.
Q: Did you ever feel pressure to achieve these "love milestones?"
Person A: Kind of. My friends started getting boyfriends in middle school, so I felt like I had to have one too to fit in. I grew out of that real quick though, and now I make my relationships on my own time.
Person B: From my parents, yeah. They kept being like, 'When are you bringing someone home for us to meet?' Like, sorry Mom, I'm too busy crying over a chemistry final to be emotionally available to someone right now.
Person C: Not really, I never really hung around people who judged me for stuff like that.
Person D: Oh, for sure. When I turned eighteen and my friends started teasing me about how I hadn't even gone on a date yet, I started questioning all of my life decisions.
Q: Do you still feel those pressures?
Person A: No, it's not worth it to listen to people who will judge you for that stuff.
Person B: I mean, I got in my first relationship and that seemed to appease my parents so... I guess not.
Person C: Now I do, yeah. A lot of people judged me and my fiancé for getting engaged in college, so I feel pressure to do what other people want me to do. I'm not going to do that, but it gets hard sometimes.
Person D: Sometimes. I've learned to not care as much, and I've found that a lot of people are like me and haven't done all these milestones yet either.
Q: Finally, any advice for students currently seeking love?
Person A: Just aim for happiness, honestly.
Person B: Get off Tinder. Right now.
Person C: Do what makes your heart happy, even if it's not what other people or society likes. Life is too short to worry about society, in my opinion.
Person D: Set your own pace. It's better to wait for that right person than rush into that really bad one.
It's all about process over product when it comes to these love milestones. While it's easy to say "set your own pace," it's very hard to uphold when there are so many societal standards that prevent achieving it. In the end, this unspoken timeline of who does love "correctly" is definitely arbitrary, and setting your own pace really creates the relationship we all are trying to capture in life.
So, thank you for enrolling in this Love Milestones course! Many students do transfer out of this course to pursue Embracing Self Confidence 101, which admittedly has better reviews.