Sleep News

How Long Before We Reveal Our True Selves in a Relationship?

02 Feb 20187 min read

From the initial rush of falling in love, to forming a deep friendship and even bringing children into the world, relationships make up a huge part of our lives.

Anyone in a relationship will know there’s no ‘road-map’ when it comes to navigating the waters of love. When is the right time to say ‘I love you’? When is it acceptable to dress down in front of our newly beloved? And when should we reveal the events of our past, and our dreams for the future?

  • Men are twice as likely to declare love after just 1 week.
  • 1 in 3 women wait a year before ‘dressing down’.
  • 1 in 5 people never admit their number of past lovers.
  • Talk of the future is preferably delayed for 1-2 years.

Our survey of 1000 British adults, reveals how long it takes before those in relationships feel comfortable enough to show their true selves.

The bedroom

Graph showing relationship timescales in the bedroom

We’re all adults here, so let’s get this one over with quickly. The bedroom forms an integral part of most romantic relationships so we couldn’t afford to omit a few questions on this sacred subject.

When it comes to declaring your love for one another, over half the people surveyed would wait at least 3 months before braving the magic words. 1/3 of women would also have no problem saying it between 1-3 months of a new relationship. But the real discovery is that men are twice as likely as women to declare their love after just 1 week (go guys!).

Graph showing survey results for saying I love you

From this, it would appear that it’s rarely too soon to say ‘I love you’ – as long as you mean it, of course!

When ‘Netflix and Chill’ means exactly that

With visual entertainment moving away from broadcast TV and shifting towards streaming channels and box sets, we are currently in a binge-watching age. Interestingly, 1 in 3 women would prefer to genuinely watch Netflix, within 1-3 months of a new relationship. Men are the romantic – or randy – ones here, putting off their TV marathons for the first year at least.

We also found age to be an important statistic when it comes to preferring TV. A whopping 40% of 18-25 year olds choose TV over sex in the first 1-3 months of a relationship. Each to their own of course, but compared to just 22% of 33-40 year olds falling within the same timescale, the figures suggest a definite shift in priorities that are wholly down to age. Who would’ve thought millennials put TV first?

Graph showing ages of people choosing to binge-watch TV

In terms of choosing sleep over sex, it’s heartening that sex is more important to all genders for at least the first 12 months of a new relationship.

Graph showing survey results for choosing sleep over sex

Needs and boundaries

Graph showing survey results for stating sexual dos and don'ts

Honesty is important in all facets of life, and it’s no different in the bedroom. Declaring likes and dislikes appears to come easier for women, with 1/3 bringing up the subject within 1-3 months. Men are split almost equally across timescales, suggesting they’ll answer personal questions if asked, but are unlikely to bring it up themselves.

Reveal the real you

Graph showing relationship timescales about revealing the real you

Over 1/2 of men relax their physical appearance after 6 months, compared to just 1/4 of women. The majority of women like to keep up a pristine appearance for at least the first year of a new relationship.

Graph showing survey results for wearing comfy clothes in front of partner

Instead of this marking a turning point in couples’ romance levels, it would actually signify timescales when both partners begin to relax and be themselves. Perhaps revealing the ‘real’ you – in sweatpants, novelty slippers and an ancient cuddly pullover – marks the juncture when the initial highs of falling in love die down, but the fires of true love are first lit.

The past

Graph showing relationship timescales in the past.

Hmm. Well, we all have a past, don’t we? And like it or not, there’s nothing we or anyone else can do about it. Except keep it quiet, perhaps. But then, secrets may not be the best base for building a strong relationship…

So, to the dreaded subject of exes. Men are more open here, with over 50% of those polled admitting their number of past lovers within 6-12 months of meeting someone new. In contrast, only 1 in 10 women are happy to do the same. An astonishing 1 in 5 men and women NEVER admit this number. Perhaps this is just one of those issues that no one else ever really needs to know.

Graph showing survey results for number of past lovers

Saying the unsayable

Men are also more open when it comes to admitting staying friends with an ex-partner, with 1 in 3 happy to make it known within 3-6 months. It’s a similar story when talking about the finer points of our past relationships – the reasons why they didn’t last, or perhaps the things you did together.

Graph showing survey results for staying in contact with an ex

41% of men are happy to do this before 6 months, compared to just 3% of women. The majority of women (59%) prefer to wait 6-12 months before discussing such finer detail, suggesting a need for greater trust before broaching the subject.

Graph showing survey results for cheating in a past relationship

Admittance of cheating on a previous partner is also a big taboo in modern relationships. 65% of women stated this is one issue they would never discuss with their partner, whereas 51% of men would rather clear their conscience within the first year or two.

The future

Graph showing relationship timescales in the future

And so, to the biggest questions of all: those concerning marriage and children. Over half the men and women surveyed agree that discussions on marriage and children should be delayed the longest – until at least a year into a relationship. Whilst 63% of women would be happy to hear a marriage proposal within the first 12 months, 91% of men would not consider popping the question until 1-2 years down the line.

In spite of these minor differences, it’s heart-warming to see that whilst these figures suggest a modern maturity amongst the populace when it comes to settling down, all genders are happy to commit to their loved one in time. It's just that some need a little longer to test the water than others.

Our true selves?

So, when it comes to relationships, how long does it take us to reveal our true selves?

  • The bedroom: men are quicker to declare their love, women the first to declare their needs and boundaries.
  • The real you: women take a year to dress down in front of a new partner, whereas men relax their appearance within 6 months.
  • The past: men are happier to talk about past events and relationships, and quicker to get these things out in the open.
  • The future: all genders are happy to put off discussions of marriage and children in the first 1-2 years, although women are more likely to broach the subject first.

Overall, men are quicker to dive into relationships and happy to reveal their warts-and-all true self within the first 6 months. Women are quicker to explain their likes and dislikes early on, but delay unveiling their past and potentially-less-glamorous side until ensconced in love for at least a year.