Relationship Timeline

Through this activity, we intend to start a discussion about relationship expectations and assumptions. It also helps students discuss their expectations of romantic relationships and whether or not there is such thing as a “normal” relationship.

A line of blue painters tape should be taped in a continuous line along the wall or floor to represent a timeline. The timeline will have certain time demarcations (1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, 6 months, 1 year, etc.) marked on it. This timeline will represent the length of a relationship, starting at the first day two people meet. Since you are working with young people, you might want to put more time demarcations towards the beginning of the timeline, with lots of demarcations for individual weeks and months, and then less towards the end, with demarcations just for individual years after the 2 or 3 year mark.

As people arrive, they will be given their own pad of colored sticky notes and a different colored marker. Ideally, each person will have their own unique color combination (i.e. pink sticky note with blue marker or yellow sticky note with purple marker). They will be instructed to write out 5-10 relationship milestones, one per sticky note, and place each milestone on what they believe to be the appropriate place on the timeline. This order can either be based on a real life relationship that they have been or are in or it can represent the way they think a relationship should ideally play out.

This activity is intended to show that people believe in and play by different rules. One person may want to put first kiss on the “1 month” line while someone else may put theirs on the “1 day” line.

Open up a discussion about the similarities and differences amongst student answers. A good way to start might be to look for a milestone most students would be likely to include, like “first kiss” or “said ‘I love you’,” and notice all the different locations students placed that milestone. Ask students to explain why they placed certain milestones where they did and what they think might have influenced their decision. Ask them if there are any “non-negotiables” for them, meaning if there is something that they would not be comfortable doing at a different point along the timeline than where they placed it.