Written by Writer’s Corps member Felicia Lin
We’ve all heard of the traditional relationship milestones: meeting the parents, the first year anniversary, moving in together, getting married, buying a house together, and raising kids together. Once you’re in a solid relationship, you might find yourself thinking about these things, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.
Way before we even get to the “M” word, let’s talk about some real relationship milestones that are worth celebrating, not ones that are just “rites of passage” to be checked off a list, but shared experiences that matter because they’ve strengthened your relationship, brought you and your S.O. closer and deepened your understanding of each other. They are the hurdles you’ve faced together and the progress you’ve subsequently made both in times of need and prosperity.
Below are 11 relationship milestones worth celebrating:
1. Giving Each Other Pet Names
If you and your S.O. have adopted cute pet names for each other, don’t be embarrassed! Embrace it as your own unique way of expressing affection for each other. And have fun with it! Some couples even develop a sort of “couple speak,” which is a sort of unique language of shared idioms and inside jokes. These are great signs that you two are happy in your relationship.
2. Showing Public Displays of Affection
At the beginning of a relationship, it might not be easy to gauge when to first show physical affection, especially in public. But once you and your S.O. have broken through that barrier and come to a mutual comfort level, even the smallest public displays of affection can be meaningful and reassuring. The simple act of holding your S.O.’s hand can speak volumes, especially for LGBTQ or bi-racial couples who may not always feel safe to do so.
3. Meeting the Friends
In most relationships, there comes a time in which you and your S.O. will meet each other’s friends. It’s only natural to want your friends to like your S.O., and for you to want to be liked by your S.O.’s friends. Not everyone is going to get on fabulously right away, but meeting each other’s most trusted friends and starting to build those relationships is definitely a step in the right direction.
4. Making up After Your First Argument
So you and your S.O. have had your first major argument, and you’ve talked through it and finally bounced back. Celebrate getting that out of the way, but also realize what you’ve learned from it and about each other.
Did you learn more about their communication style or how they handle conflict? Did the argument lead to a revealing discussion? Or did you agree that it was best to agree to disagree?
Working through disagreements is a part of healthy communication. Bottling things up can quickly escalate simple misunderstandings. As you get better at being open and honest with each other, you’ll learn to resolve your differences in a healthier way.
RELATED: 5 Easy Ways To Communicate Better in Your Relationship
5. Talking About Your Exes
Conventional dating advice states that it’s not a good idea to talk about an ex, especially on the first date or at the beginning of a relationship. However, as your relationship progresses you may feel comfortable enough to talk about past relationships, especially the ones that had a significant impact on you.
We have all been shaped by our experiences and the people we’ve encountered. Maybe it’s not your ex but some other past experience or relationship you’d like to have a serious conversation about. It’s healthy to acknowledge what we’ve learned and how we’ve grown. Being able to talk about the past, especially exes, demonstrates a strong level of trust and security in your relationship.
6. Saying Those Three Little Words to Each Other
This one goes without saying – for a lot of couples, this is a moment that really solidified things. Saying, “I love you” is one of the major steps of a relationship. Cherish the moment you’ve both first expressed love for each other. There’s only one first time, but surely it never gets old hearing those three little words, especially when they are said at just the right time. These three little words have incredible power, and it’s important to do your best to recognize that and ensure they come from a place of love and compassion.
7. Attending a Work Event Together
Going to a work party with your S.O. can seem like a coming out party in a lot of ways. Being introduced to our S.O.’s colleagues and boss is your S.O.’s way of welcoming you into another part of their world, and making your relationship “official.” That’s definitely a point of progress in your relationship!
8. The First Time Traveling Together
This is a pretty big deal, especially if it is the first time that you and your S.O. will spend more than 24 hours straight with each other. The wonderful thing about being in a relationship is making memories and experiencing new things together.
But traveling together is about more than just the memories – it offers you the opportunity to navigate through the unfamiliar and to encounter the unexpected. Along the way, you’ll get to see and experience different sides of each other, and you’ll probably learn more about each other’s daily habits, quirks and pet peeves.
9. Spending Your First Major Holiday Together
Holidays can be the most joyous but also the most stressful times of the year, especially if you add in family drama and dynamics. But it doesn’t have to be that way! This is the perfect time for you and your S.O. to support each other and model healthy relationship behaviors. It’s also a great opportunity for you and your S.O. to create your own new holiday traditions and have something to look forward to!
RELATED: 3 Relationship Stressors To Avoid This Holiday Season
10. Giving Each Other Keys to Your Respective Homes
As your relationship progresses, your trust in each other deepens, and your lives become more intertwined, exchanging house keys might make sense. This is a decision definitely not to be taken lightly. It’s a huge demonstration of your trust in each other and quite possibly a precursor to deciding to live together.
RELATED: 5 Lessons I Learned from Living with My Significant Other
11. Adopting a Pet Together
A healthy relationship is very much about working together as a team and about sharing common interests and values. If both of you love animals and truly understand the time, money, and personal commitment involved in caring for them, adopting a pet together could be a tremendously rewarding experience for you and your S.O.
As you and your partner go through life together there will be plenty of challenges, obstacles, joys, and successes. The challenge is how you’ll adjust to all of these changes, good and bad. As your relationship changes and grows, you will need to tend to it like a plant. Monitor it, feed it, and give it lots of attention and TLC.
Always strive to reach the next milepost and to #LoveBetter.