Here is every single relationship milestone you should be reaching

Don’t update your Facebook relationship status until five months in

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Life is moment after moment of fearing you are abnormal. You fear that you are casting into an abyss: that your job is going nowhere and you are behind your friends at every stage. Especially in your relationship.

Relationships are a flashpoint, as they incorporate infinitesimal milestones: your first awkward kiss, the first time you have sex, the first time you float the idea of being “Facebook” official and then pretend you were joking.

Lucky then, that we have a smiley flowchart by dating website that dictates where our relationships should be at. You ought have said “I love you” after four and a half months and had a talk about “the future” by a year. No biggie.


Kiss – first date

This assumes you haven’t got with each other already at a house party, as one person ashes on your bag and another screams because What Do You Mean? has started playing. We no longer subscribe to Victorian values: Match is kind of right when it says it would be weird if you haven’t kissed by the end of the first date. Otherwise, is it really a date?

Holding hands – a week

It’s a little bit secondary school, and feels like more of a first-girlfriend-situation (you tentatively knocked hands and then held them for a bit on the bench outside Tesco). On the other hand – do we ever really grow up? There will likely be a heart leap the first time you extend your hand, and then it will be normal. For a while, you will hold hands everywhere, even when you don’t really want to (you just got out of a pub loo and didn’t dry  your hands; you would quite like to get your phone out of your pocket but it’s in the same pocket as the hand they’re holding and you don’t want to stretch your arm across your body, etc).

Sex – two weeks

Probably two or three dates in and this is what you’ve been waiting for. Indeed, you’ve been thinking of little else when you’re together (or separated) – partly because you’d quite like to get it out of the way and make it, like the hand-holding, normal. There’s a bit of a gender split here. Girls will be agonising about the time-old dilemma: wanting to wait for propriety’s sake, but also worrying that the boy will lose interest. Boys would probably just like to get on with it.

Getting dressed with the lights on – a month

It’s always really awkward putting your clothes on after you tore them off about half an hour earlier – it’s the comedown after the big night out. This milestone coincides roughly with the time you introduce your new person to your mates: perhaps there is a connection. You no longer feel embarrassed about being naked around them; by extension are no longer embarrassed about being with them in front of your mates. This probably says something Freudian, somewhere.

Seeing them without make-up – three months

Girls: it’s about showing them the “real” you. Boys: it’s about seeing them slightly differently, not really a big deal. Although their eyes are a lot smaller than you thought they were.

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Probably won’t last

Buying them a birthday present – four months

Obviously, this depends on when their birthday falls, not how long you’ve been dating. Imagine you were going out with someone and didn’t buy them a present just because you hadn’t reached the four-month milestone yet; imagine the uncomfortable birthday date – there’d be one, because they’ve introduced you to all their mates – and you have to confess (or more likely, studiously avoid the fact) that you hadn’t bought them anything. To be frank, if you don’t get them anything for their birthday, you probably won’t reach the next milestone.

Saying “I love you” – four and a half months

This one coincides roughly with the time you should be leaving a toothbrush round their house. Maybe feeling comfortable enough to say “I’ll be staying here often”, and revealing whether you go for manual or electric; maybe it’s just a happy coincidence (happier if you go electric – it’s so much cleaner).

Changing your Facebook relationship status – five months

Do people still do this? If so, it’s a biggie. Now all your friends, your mum and that guy you met in a bar last year (but never followed up with) know you’re in a relationship and officially off the market. It’s all brilliant, they smell like roses and you couldn’t be happier. Until…

Your first real argument – five and a half months

It could be about where you’re supposed to go out for dinner. It could be about why you never clean your room or show any affection in public. Either way it’ll be awful and a bit traumatic. If you make it through this then there will be many more. They’ll get pettier and pettier too #love.

Introducing them to your parents – six months

“Hi Mum, hi Dad! This is [insert name of the person you pulled six months ago].” You revert to your “home” personality type (obnoxious, a bit adolescent), while your partner worries about whether to hug or shake hands, whether to chime in or let you do the talking. Should they compliment the food? Stroke the dog? Also, everyone in the room knows you’re shagging and that’s awkward.

Spending a night away together – seven months

This sounds a bit seedy, but it’s probably not (unless you want it to be?). Maybe a short trip somewhere like Copenhagen, Dublin or some remote cottage in the Cotswolds. It sounds like a great idea at the time but never is.

Going on holiday together – ten months

Somewhere exotic which involves backpacking isn’t a smart decision. Play it safe and do Croatia or Marrakesh. Don’t go anywhere with lots of clubs, because you it’s just the two of you and you can’t go out together and dance around yourselves all night. You’d have a shit time and have that first flicker of doubt (“this going out stuff was more fun when I was single”).

Having a talk about “the future” – one year

Probably takes place lying in bed when you least expect it. Expect to answer thinly-veiled questioning on where you see yourself in five years. Respond very, very carefully if you see yourself being alive in five years’ time.

Relationship goals

Relationship goals

Getting engaged – two years

It’s one of those days you think will never come, but it has to happen at some point. Unless you break up, in which case go back to the start.

Getting a pet  – just over two years

Everyone knows it’s just a trial baby: a hairier one that cries less. They’re arguably cuter too. You have to take it for walks, clean up after it and aggressively milk it for all the Instagram likes you can get while it’s still a puppy.

Buying a home together – just under three years

You can throw this one out: nobody can buy houses these days. To translate for the current economic climate: moving into a slightly nicer flat without any intrusive housemates around to walk in on your “romantic” cooking sessions.

Marriage – three years

Surely, surely, this depends how old you are. If you first met this boy or girl at 21 then no way. If you’re in your mid-twenties then it’s a scary possibility that two could become one sooner than you think.

Starting a family – four years

Zero to marriage and a kid in four years. Your life has finished! This is you, for perpetuity.

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