The social expectation that a romantic relationship should automatically follow a set of steps and lead to marriage, parenthood, and home ownership. This term is used primarily by people who want to get "off the escalator
," who want to judge the success of relationships by criteria other than how smoothly and automatically the relationship gets more serious.
One sample template is "Meet someone > Dating > Sex > Move in together > Get married > Have kids"
Doing these things out of order is being off the relationship escalator: if you have sex on a first date, many people think your relationship can't, or shouldn't, eventually become more serious. If you move in with someone, moving back out again usually means that the relationship is over. Being polyamorous
or participating in other kinds of non-monogamy
is also being off the relationship escalator.
We broke up because he wanted to be on the relationship escalator, and I prefer to live alone.
Your dating profile suggests you're not on the relationship escalator, so you need to explain specifically what you're looking for.