By Kate Richlin-Zack
There are milestones in every relationship.
In the beginning there are things like month-a-versaries which are typically celebrated solely by the couple. I’ve convinced many guys to take me out and buy me something nice for our 3 month anniversary. Why? Because who doesn’t like a free dinner a nice pair of earrings? Though admittedly, I’ve given jewelry back or pawned it and bought something that didn’t have any bad relationship juju attached to it. But I digress … after you’ve been together for a year, month-a-versaries disappear and you can start celebrating true anniversaries.
Then there are milestones that couples celebrate along with their friends and family. One of the best phone calls I ever made was to my mom to tell her I got engaged and having her tell me she already knew because my husband-to-be had asked for her blessing. (This is why I married him, folks.) Weddings are another relationship milestone that a couple typically celebrates with their loved ones. Babies fall into this category too but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves; this is a dating column.
Then there are milestones that no one, not even the couple celebrate. While some of these milestones aren’t particularly glamorous — some are downright gross — I think they deserve some recognition because they are pretty good indicators that your relationship is transitioning from casual to serious.
He introduces you as his “girlfriend”
Stop claiming “we don’t want to label it.” That’s a load of BS. When you label something, you define it. If he’s introducing you to people as his “girlfriend,” it carries a certain meaning because, let’s face it, I doubt he’ll ever say, “Oh hi, Aunt Susie. This is my friend-with-benefits, Jessica.” See, the “girlfriend” introduction means something. And while the discussion leading up to bestowing the girlfriend/boyfriend title upon each other may feel kind of juvenile, hearing him say, “You’re my girlfriend,” or being able to refer to him as your boyfriend without him getting all squirrely feels pretty damn good at any age.
You meet his family
Meeting his family can be a big step. If the relationship is heading nowhere, chances are you’ll never know for sure if he was raised by wolves. You get bonus points if you don’t hate his family when you meet them, more bonus points if you actually get along with them, and even more bonus points if you could see yourself spending Thanksgiving with them … for the rest of your life. And obviously there’s no need to worry about them liking you. What’s not to like?
You go on vacation together
There comes a time in every relationship where you have to determine your compatibility as travel buddies. Unless you’re planning to take separate vacations or spend the remainder of your life at home, you need to determine how well you vacation together. Being that I’m the type of girl who prefers luxury-spa-beach-resort vacations, I’ve broken up with outdoorsy-nature-adventure loving guys long before I discovered they prefer sleeping in a tent after scaling a mountain and killing dinner. I don’t care how much I love you, I’m not vacationing like a homeless person. SorryNotSorry.
You are his “plus one”
Going to a big event as someone’s date is a big deal. It’s an even bigger deal if it’s a wedding. I didn’t realize how big of a deal the “plus one” really is until I planned my own wedding. I was not willing to pay for someone’s booty call so I enforced a rule that you had to be dating for at least six months, living together, engaged, or married. Otherwise you were flying solo that night. Based on the message boards on various wedding websites, this was a perfectly legitimate rule.
You share a bed and actually sleep
While the first sleep over is an important milestone in a relationship, sleepovers are generally preceded by a lively romp between the sheets (or on the floor or in the kitchen … pick a room). But that first night that you sleep over and there is no sex may be even more significant. Unless one of you is passed out drunk thus making sex nearly impossible, a sleepover that consists of just sleep is a likely indication that the relationship isn’t just about sex.
He sees you at your worst
I’m not talking about waking up next to each other and gasp, you’re not wearing any makeup and have a killer case of morning breath. I’m talking about you getting violently ill and him bearing witness to you in all your grotesque glory. For example, projectile vomiting and/or laser line diarrhea. If he still loves you after you defecate all over his bathroom, he’s probably worth keeping.
He farts in front of you
I always recommend you let him take the lead on this one if you have any ability to control yourself. Barring any accidental slips where you can’t blame it on crop dusting (choose a crowded public venue) or pretend, “No I don’t smell anything,” you’re better off letting him set the pace when it comes to couple’s flatulence.
You stop getting all dressed up to go to Applebees
In the beginning, you slap on a coat of spackle and spend hours picking out an outfit that showcases your cleavage even if you’re having dinner at the Chili’s in the mall. Why? Because it’s still early in the relationship and it’s all part of the courting process. Generally most girls want to look their best regardless of the venue. Until you get to the point where you realize it doesn’t matter. You’ve been together for a while. You’ve hit some of the aforementioned milestones and you realize that getting all dressed up for hot wings and onion rings is not the best use of your time.
There are tons of relationship milestones that we hit along the way like moving in together or saying “I love you” for the first time. Some are bigger than others, but I think we should commemorate them all. So if the traditional first wedding anniversary gift is paper (no I’m not making this up), what’s the appropriate gift to commemorate updating your relationship status on Facebook?
Kate’s Dates runs every other Wednesday on Kate-book.com. It is written by the lovely Kate Richlin-Zack, who fully admits to majoring in engineering to meet guys. Her articles have been featured YourTango on Romance Never Dies and quoted in Fox News Magazine. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.