As societal norms and individual preferences have evolved over time, so has the average relationship timeline. In recent years, Americans have ushered in an era of following their hearts regarding when, how, and who they should date, marry, and have children with. 

Social media is flooded with relationship gurus and people sharing their dating mantras, but what do Americans really think relationship timelines should look like in the 21st century? We surveyed over 1,000 people across the country to find out.

Americans’ Relationship Timelines

Because dating has become rather personalized and fluid in American culture, it’s hard to find an average relationship timeline we can all agree on. However, some emerging trends can help guide you on your dating journey. Let’s take a look!

Infographic showing survey insights about relationship timelines 

“It’s clear that modern young people have embraced intentional dating, meaning they’re looking toward the future with every match,” said Amber Brooks, relationship expert and Editor-in-Chief at “Waiting until one’s 30s to get married means singles have more time to know themselves and gain clarity on what they truly want.”

Partner Standards

If you’re on dating apps or actively looking for a partner, you’ve seen people’s lists of standards — the traits they want their partners to have. They range from vague to extremely specific and include things from physical traits to personality and interests. 

But what happens if we don’t find that special someone who checks off all our boxes? According to our survey:

  • Three in 10 Americans in the survey admitted they would consider settling with someone who doesn’t fully meet their standards if they are not married by a certain age, with 40% of men claiming so.
  • 30% of females and 22% of males said they would never settle.
  • Two-thirds of respondents said they are more likely to change their standards (or settle) as they get older.
  • Three-quarters would rather stay single for the rest of their lives if they did not meet anyone who met their standards.

“It’s encouraging that so many singles know their worth and aren’t looking to settle for partners who don’t meet their standards,” Amber said. “Settling is not a good strategy if your goal is relationship longevity and marital satisfaction.”


Many people dream of their wedding day long before they’ve even found their partner. Once you’ve found the right person, however, when’s the best time to pop the question and say, “I do?” Does your family get to weigh in? 

Our respondents gave us their insight:

  • Generation Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) is the only generation that prefers to get married in their twenties, finding 27 to be the ideal age. Out of every generation surveyed, they feel the strongest about being married by a certain age.
  • Those who are divorced wish to date for the least amount of time (one year and 10 months) before getting engaged, and those whose relationship status is “in a relationship” wish to date for the longest, at three years.
  • Nearly 60% of Americans surveyed said their family’s expectations do not affect their decisions regarding marriage and relationships, with those from the South and West feeling the strongest at 58% and 62%, respectively.

A whopping 97% of Americans said they are willing to be flexible with their desired relationship timelines if they meet the right person, with 24% claiming to be “very flexible.”


It used to be considered extremely taboo to have children before marriage, but that’s not typically the case anymore. Americans are having children when they see fit, and their little ones are cherished — regardless of their parents’ relationship status. 

So, at what point in your relationship would you consider making your partnership a trio? 

  • 80% of survey respondents said they would prefer to be married before having children. Gen Zers feel the strongest about this, with 90% saying so. 
  • About 1 in 3 Americans said they would consider having a child on their own if they had not met someone they would want to have children with.
  • The average desired age to have a child is 31.

“The desire to have children is a driving force for many serious relationships and marriages,” Amber commented. “With more women excelling in the workforce, it makes sense that some single people no longer see marriage and the financial benefits that come with it as a prerequisite for having children.”

Closing Thoughts

Gone are the days of courtship, white picket fences, and 2.5 kids. And that’s OK! We’re all moving at our own pace and have our own goals — and our relationships should reflect that. Whether you get married at 27 or 55, enjoy the journey and all the quirks it has to offer. 

No matter where you are in your relationship timeline, our blog has the latest dating and relationship tips to guide you through. 


We surveyed 1,005 respondents across the country from May 31 through June 4, asking questions about their perceptions and feelings toward relationship timelines, such as the ideal timing for various relationship milestones and willingness or flexibility to settle or change based on life factors. 

Our goal was to uncover the current state of relationship timelines in America. By exploring a wide range of demographics and regional nuances, we aimed to provide a comprehensive view of how relationship timelines are perceived and experienced across the United States.