But before I get into the role of timing in relation to romantic relationships (and how I believe that timing and who we end up spending our life with are quite connected), I would like to note that by stating that I believe timing plays a majorly significant role in regards to who we end up with, I am not ignoring the importance and influence of compatibility. Now to say something on that topic briefly.
Compatibility is certainly a significant factor in the long-term success of a relationship. One example: if partner A is ambitious, active, adventurous and curious, its unlikely that partner A will have a long-term successful partnership with partner B who is incredibly lazy, inactive, uninterested in adventure or new experiences. So yes, to an extent, compatibility matters. But the important phrase being "to an extent." Compatibility is a factor but its certainly not the main one that determines whether or not a relationship will work out.
Because, interestingly, there are a number of cases in which people seem as though they actually would not be compatible (to name a few examples: one is introverted, while the other is extroverted. Or, they have two different religions or opposite political stances. Or, one loves to read, write, hang out at home or with friends one on one, while the other loves to play sports, meet large groups of friends, and partake in more extracurricular activities), and yet, the couple actually ends up working quite well together.
Therefore, compatibility partially depends on what the two individuals differences actually are, as well as how those differences are handled. If we allow them to, numerous differences actually compliment and can even create wonderful balance, excitement, interest and growth within the relationships and the two individuals in the relationship.
So, compatibility aside (which is important, but is relative and open in terms of interpretation), timing plays a HUGE role in terms of how a relationship will play out, and who we will end up with.
I think timing is so relevant in terms of this topic that its worth exploring in some detail. Timing does largely determine who we end up with as a life partner. (Though it of course, does not determine things like who we love, nor for whom we felt or feel the strongest for).
Who we end up with doesn't just depend on who we meet. That is just a tiny piece of it. With whom we end up depends on a number of more varied factors, such as: who we are personally when we meet each prospective partner (what kind of a person are we at that point in our life? Because throughout of our lives most of us-though not all of us, change and grow to some extent). It depends on our life goals and pursuits at that time. It depends on our own openness, maturity and willingness to put in the efforts to be a good partner at that stage in our life. It depends on our prior relational experience at that point. It depends on if our heart is currently preoccupied with someone else at that time, in which case we aren't really available anyway. Are both people ready for similar things (such as, both are interested in some level of adventure and excitement together, or are both interested in having kids soon, buying a home and building a family at that point together). These are a variety of the factors that relate to timing. If a number of these factors do not align well within your prospective romantic relationship, its unlikely to last at that time. Regardless of the depth of love or infatuation felt.
Lots of these factors, traits and desires change within each of us, numerous times throughout our lives. Therefore, a lot of whom we end up with depends on the traits, mindsets and desires that both we, as well as our prospective partner, have at the time of our relationship.
Liking, Lust and a degree of Compatibility (but as I described in the beginning, compatibility is a relative thing) are the starting points to a potentially successful relationship. But more often then not, Timing plays a big role. Bigger then most of us realize, I think.
Here are some aspects of timing, broken down into a few categories (though I am sure there are, of course, more then just these I am listing):
1. Age. (As in, though its certainly possibly I suppose but someone who is 22 years old is unlikely to work over the long-term with a partner who is 35 years old).
2. Goals in life, as in, do they match somewhat at that time. For instance, if one wants kids right now, and the other wants to wait 5 years, then the relationship is unlikely to work at that time.
3. Maturity. This is a big one. Is the person ready for things like: compromise, growth, some level of sacrifice, working things out instead of running away, good communication, etc. If not, its unlikely they will have a successful long-term relationship with the next prospective partner.
4. Where is one at in their life right now? This is similar to goals, but not quite the same. For instance, if one person is into partying every weekend, spending most days with their friends, and enjoys a great deal of independence and doing their own thing, then its unlikely that they are ready for a fully committed romantic relationship.
And those are just a few of the main factors that popped into my mind. I am certain there are more.
Timing can work in a different way too, as in, often times people may work well together for some time, but then one of them changes or grows in such a way that they no longer work well together. This can happen too.
Timing can also cause us to end up with the wrong person as well (if we allow it to).
For instance, if one is lonely, sad, or on the rebound, this can cause one to snag someone relatively quickly in order to attempt to fill a hole within themselves, which probably means there wasn't a lot of careful thought or consideration going into that relationship. There is a high chance this person will not be a great match. And the lonely person may cling to a mismatch out of this feeling of loneliness, sadness or fear of being alone. This probably wouldn't happen if the person who is lonely instead focuses on filling their life with things that make them happy first (close friendships, exciting hobbies, a job they enjoy, etc) before they find a partner. When you "need" a partner, you aren't going to be a good partner. A great relationship is two wholes coming together to compliment each other. Its not two needy halves clinging to one another to "complete" each other.
A lack of experience in dating can cause many people to assume that feeling intense emotions for another person means that this person should be their future life partner. When of course, MUCH more thought and analysis needs to go into considering who might be a truly good life match for oneself. And this is less likely to happen when one has more relational experience, more maturity and has experienced greater self growth that usually comes with having romantic experiences with a number of people.
One may be going through a difficult phase in their life, so they take up with someone who is toxic for them during this time. Yet they may not realize it when engulfed in their challenging or difficult life phase. When maybe we would not have picked this person once we moved back into a better phase of our lives mentally.
The list goes on and on, as to ways that timing can have a negative impact on our relational choices too. Those were just a few examples I was able to conjure up.
Additionally, one of the dilemmas we are faced with nowadays which makes the issue of timing in romantic relationships even more challenging is relational pressure. This adds to our problem of timing within relationships. Society pressures us, BIG time. To hurry, hurry, hurry and find "the one" because then you'll be "complete" and then you'll be "secure" and "happy" and "finally settled" and basically all good. Then all of your friends, and your parents, can give a collective sigh of relief. You will finally then have check off all the little boxes of our "one-size-fits-all" society expectation checklist, which includes finding a partner and marrying. Kids are the only requirement left. This external rushing and pressure often results in people settling down too quickly with the wrong person. Another complication added to the topic of timing.
Lets take a look at some relevant and thought-provoking data. 50% of marriages end in divorce. And that is not including the 15-20% which separate permanently but do not file for divorce. This means that 65-70% of marriages actually end!!! And that's not even including those who stay together but aren't especially happy. Could it be that too many people are settling? Staying with someone out of comfort, shared history, and fear of letting go? That many of us aren't as good as we think we are at choosing relationships?
It seems that while we love, we aren't well versed in making good relational choices. That many relationships are chosen out of fear, lack of patience, staying with someone out of shared history, possibly laziness and anxiety in imagining starting over. And the second main point being that, though some reasoning towards who we end up with has to do with ones own personality, the two peoples compatibility (to a relative degree), and ones changing life goals and desires, a significant part of who we end up with is additionally related not just to love, but timing.