Relationships are made up of milestones that take place over time. But for beginners at relationships, here’s a guide to when they should happen.
Milestones are the events, big or small, that lead a relationship in a new direction. They mark the first time something is done, something that makes you both a little more comfortable. While every relationship has milestones, long-term ones have more, just because there’s more time together. Certain things that happen five years in just don’t happen during the first year.
While every relationship is different, and timelines may vary, there are some general time frames that seem to work for most. No matter how long you’ve been together, there’s a milestone or two you should be crossing.
When should these milestones occur?
While there’s no rule for when you should be able to accomplish something in a relationship, it’s still a good idea to know if your relationship is progressing the way most normal relationships do.
#1 Anything related to bowel movements, farts, going to the bathroom together, using it with the door open, etc. For farts, that should happen in the first 2 – 3 months, as there’s bound to be a time when you won’t be able to hold it in. Talking about going to the bathroom should happen 4 months in, but some men tend to do that as soon as they possibly can. Actually going to the bathroom together and watching each other go number one? That takes about a year, unless you happen to find yourself in a situation where it can’t be helped.
The moral of the story is people are gross, and if you love each other, you won’t really mind your partner’s bowel movements. They happen, whether or not you can see them, and the sooner you come to terms with that, the better. [Read: 13 unique ways to build intimacy with your partner]
#2 The first time one of you cries. Let’s face it, women will be more open to showing their tears than men will ever be. She might cry during a movie, when a sad song plays, or when she’s having a really rough day and crying is her outlet. This could happen within the first few months, or if she’s got a steely resolve, it might take her more than a year.
On the other hand, men are generally reluctant to cry in front of their partners, and will only do so when they’re under extreme duress or when they’re in physical pain *and that’s still pretty rare*. But men will usually be more likely to show a woman tears after at least a year of being in a relationship with her.
#3 The first time you let the crazy out. You know that weird thing you do when no one else is around, like eating cereal out of a mug, adding ketchup to your steak, or obsessively scrubbing the grout in your bathroom? The first time you show that really weird and unexplainable side of yourself to your partner is a milestone. If they stick around despite your strange ways, they might be worthy of your love. This tends to happen within the first year, roughly 4 – 8 months in.
#4 The minute you realize you’re no longer in the honeymoon phase. This is soul-crushing for relationship first timers, but for people with experience, this is the best time. No longer are both of you on your best behavior, living a lie, and being too cheesy for your own good. Now, the real fun begins, and you really get to know each other. This happens in a matter of 6 – 8 months. So, technically, those dating for a year have barely scratched the surface. [Read: The 10 stages of dating for a successful relationship]
#5 Sharing space, even if it’s at mom and dad’s house. This is when your partner’s toothbrush, hairbrush, spare clothing, and beauty products have taken over a drawer in your bedroom and the medicine cabinet in your bathroom. It happens to most people, and it’s probably bound to happen to you in time. It makes for messier breakups, but no one thinks about that when they wake up at their partner’s place and need to shower.
This should happen after at least a year of knowing that you’re serious with each other. For some, it happens in months, but those relationships tend to phase out quickly most of the time. Of course, for those on the more conservative side of the spectrum, you may find that you’ll only be sharing a space after you’re married. [Read: 14 tips to make moving in together before marriage work for you]
#6 Being at ease with the parents. This is a tough one. When you first meet them, they tend to look at you like an alien, or they’re very nice, which makes you wonder what they’re saying behind your back. This has a pretty hefty time frame, and should go away in 2-4 years.
Why so long? Because while you might feel comfortable around one parent, you might have a tinge of self-awareness around the other for a while. If you’re over it in a year or less, you’re one of the few lucky ones. [Read: 7 signs it’s time to meet the parents]
#7 The first time you take care of your sick partner or vice versa. The first year in, you’re still a little too vulnerable for this. Maybe bring them soup when they have a cold, at best. But you know that one time you needed a toilet and a trashcan at the same time for basically a full 24 hours? That kind of full-time nurse treatment doesn’t happen until 2 years in. [Read: How to take care of a sick partner without losing it]
#8 The first time one of you is too tired to have sex. This really does depend on how kinky of a relationship you two have. More so than going to the bathroom together. Some couples love to have sex, even when tired, and this “too tired to have sex” thing doesn’t happen until 3-4 years in. For others, it can happen in 2.
It really boils down to two main reasons: external forces *new job stress, a year filled with major life changes, death in the family, etc.* and your sex drive. You could easily be the kinkiest couple, with the sex drive of jackrabbits, but at the end of the day, you need to endure the “too tired to have sex” talk due to job-related stress and exhaustion.
Plus, let’s be realistic: after a while, it’s OK to admit that you’re not free to do the deed 24/7. It doesn’t mean your sex life is done for, it simply means you’re secure enough to know that there are some nights when it just won’t happen. It’s when it rarely happens that you need to worry.
#9 When you finally express your hatred toward someone in your partner’s family. It could mean their sister, mother, or uncle. It doesn’t matter. This isn’t spoken of a year in, maybe not even 2. For many, it doesn’t happen until the third year in, mainly because it will take you a while to actually get to know someone enough to dislike them.
There’s a higher chance of it coming out in the open if it’s someone your partner also doesn’t like. But if your partner is close to the person you dislike, or your partner simply doesn’t seem to have an issue with them, there’s a chance it’ll take longer. Here’s the funny thing though: say it’s their sibling. Even if your partner hates their sibling, you’ll probably hold your tongue until the third year mark anyway, simply because it’s your partner’s sibling.
#10 When you finally learn about each other’s gross habits. This happens late in the first year, but doesn’t fully explode into giant rants of honesty until the second year. You’ll start off small, like you didn’t shave your legs or you didn’t change the sheets because you didn’t expect them over. But by the third and fourth year, you’ll be describing how you haven’t showered in a week, and how you didn’t know you could smell this bad. It just escalates with time.
The good thing about this is that you reach a point where you’re used to these descriptions, and you tend to build up a natural mental blockage that prevents you from being completely turned off by your partner.
Even if your particular relationship milestone is absolutely disgusting or disheartening, they mark a time in which both of you have gotten closer, and have shared something that you didn’t realize could be special. It may be planned or it may come out as a surprise, but one thing’s for sure, each milestone deserves to be cherished.
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Jennifer is a writer, director, consultant and author, with a passion for all things literary. While she works on a variety of projects at a time, her one true ...