There’s no denying finding love post 2020 looks different to any other period of time thanks to COVID-19, but do our relationships look different, too? New eharmony research reveals that nearly half of Aussies (45%) believe marriage is less important than it was for previous generations. Although, we still do carry some old-school values, with 43% believing children should come after marriage. But those eternal kidults – otherwise known as millennials – are the least keen to settle down, citing 36 as the best age for weddings, and 37 for starting a family.
eharmony’s relationship expert, Sharon Draper talks us through their latest research on Australians’ attitudes to love and marriage, and when we reach key relationship milestones.
Ideal ages for love, marriage, and kids
New data suggests that for most Aussies their twenties are a time of carefree dating and flings. In fact, of over 2,000 Aussies surveyed, the average age seen to be perfect to get into the first serious relationship was 27. However, this doesn’t leave much time for settling down, as the group (on average) hope to have met their life partner by 31. This is also deemed the correct age to move in together and get engaged, according to those surveyed. By age 33, marriage is on the cards; and age 34 is when most Aussies believe it’s time to start a family, and buy a property together.
What’s more, contrary to popular perception, men and women do not differ greatly in their preferred age for settling down. Women typically want to walk down the aisle at age 32, and start trying for a family soon after. Whereas, the average man wanting opts to be married by age 35, with kids a year later.
“It appears that both men and women have a ‘biological clock’ when it comes to settling down,” says Sharon, “We should do away with old stereotypes which suggests it’s only females who yearn to start families in their thirties. Regardless of gender, most people want to have a child when they have a good job and home sorted, whilst not letting these choices slide into their forties.”
However, baby boomers (born 1946-1964) and millennials (1981-1996) have a different take on the perfect age for marriage and kids – boomers believe 30 is the ideal age to be married, with kids at 31, while millennials would prefer to wait, with marriage at age 36 and kids at a relatively late age of 37.
“It’s noteworthy that millennials deem 37 the right age for having kids when we know female fertility starts to decline at 35,” says Sharon. “On the other hand, these couples are more likely to be financially stable, and mature enough to weather all sorts of challenges together.”
Kissing with confidence
There’s nothing like a kiss to seal the deal when it comes to romance, with one in three singles wanting to lock lips on a first date, according to eharmony research.
“The fact that one in three dates is likely to end in a kiss is a great sign,” says Sharon. “This contradicts the notion that chemistry is an elusive factor in online dating. I’d say patience and persistence pay off.”
Getting naked for the first time
Getting hot under the sheets is also high on the agenda for many, with more than one third (34%) keen to have sex within the first month of dating. A slightly more conservative one in four Aussies (26%) prefer to delay disrobing to the first three months of dating. Meanwhile, almost one in ten very patient Aussies (8%) are actually happy to wait until they are married.
“When to have sex is an extremely individual choice,” says Sharon, “Whether you wait one week or several months, just make sure you do what feels right for you and don’t allow yourself to be pressurised. Sex is a powerful dynamic that can really intensify relationships. During those early days, it’s often a key decider on whether someone is a keeper, or it’s time to move on.”
Saying I love you
Just over one in ten (12%) of lovestruck Aussies say ‘I love you’ within the first month. A third drop the ‘L Bomb’ within three months of meeting someone, but a more cautious third of Aussies take as long as six months to do so.
“Beyond love, the big thing to remember is that for a relationship to survive long term you ideally need to share core values and personality traits,” says Sharon. “That’s why, at eharmony, compatibility lies at the heart of all our matching.”
From a social media point of view, being ‘Facebook official’ is important to get sorted within the first month for one in 10 Aussies, while a third (30%) will update their status in the first three months, and another quarter (21%) will change their profile status in the first six months of dating.
Meeting the parents
And more than three quarters (76%) will bring their partner home to meet their family within the first six months of dating, while 1 in 10 (8%) will take a year or longer to have their love come home to meet the parents.
“Meeting the parents is a major milestone for most couples and can be nerve-wracking,” says Sharon. “Remember it’s important to be yourself and not feel you need to overly win people over. Be kind and remember, easy does it.”
Table 1: Ideal age for significant relationship milestones to occur
|Be in your first serious relationship||27|
|Meeting your life-long partner||31|
|Moving in together||31|
|Investing in property together||34|
MONEY’S TOO TIGHT TO MENTION: TWO THIRDS OF AUSSIES SAY MONEY IS THE BIGGEST AREA OF CONFLICT IN THEIR RELATIONSHIP
- Two thirds (58%) of Australian couples claim finances are a major cause of conflict within their relationship
- One in five (20%) Australian couples still keep their finances separate, potentially helping to pave the way for 14% of those who are hiding secret credit cards, bank accounts and debts from their loved ones
- When it comes to dating profiles, eharmony found that more than half of women send their first message to men on higher incomes, but only a quarter of men follow suit
With money making up such a huge part of couples’ long-term security, serious considerations should be given to how money is handled within a relationship. Financial expert Victoria Devine from She’s on the Money, believes the way we behave with our money does indeed have a significant impact on relationship quality.
“The pandemic saw money behaviours change in many. There was a strong focus on reducing debts and solidifying personal financial positions in the time of crisis. The uncertainty also created enormous fiscal stress for both singles and couples alike. There is no one size fits all when it comes to the best way to manage finances within a relationship. My partner and I pay our way 50-50, but this isn’t ideal for everyone. Whether it is paying back debt, supporting young children or even working how to split the grocery bill, couples need to work out what’s the best strategy for them.
“It’s so important to have those uncomfortable money conversations early in your relationship. My advice is to be upfront, because the more you hide, the more it can impact you in the future. I’ve worked with clients who have been in six figures of debt and haven’t told their partners. It’s a shock to the relationship to say the least and it can be really difficult to work through.”
Research also indicates that one in three (33%) singles wouldn’t trust a potential partner to be as responsible as they are with their money. While one in five (20%) feels a partner would judge them on their spending, which may explain the top-secret banking behaviour once they couple up.
When asked what they felt was an acceptable level of debt* for a potential partner to have, more than half of singles (55%) cited a limit of $20k. While over a third (35%) of singles took the hard line and stated there should be no debt at all.
What’s more, eharmony data suggests men and women are still slightly old fashioned when it comes to their ideal salary in a potential partner. According to the preferences stated in 9,500 anonymised dating profiles, more than half of women (60%) are more likely to send their first message to men who earn more, while only a quarter of men (24%) follow suit. Alternatively, more than half of men (53%) prefer to open a conversation with a female match on a lower income, and a quarter (24%) go for someone on the same income.
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