place. Before, you’d spend the night. Now, you’re spending two or three nights, which means sooner or later you’ve got to make numero dos. Grab some air freshener and hope for a quiet and dignified burial at sea.
20 First time she bails you out. Your car was towed. You need a ride to the impound lot. Your presentation is in 40 minutes, and your flash drive is at her place. The prime rib was like butter, but your wallet’s at home. You won’t come out of any of these binds looking like The Man, but it feels good to be with a woman who has your back.
21 First time he asks your forgiveness.
22 First time you realize you’ve forgotten your ex. A car exactly like his passes by, and it doesn’t trigger a reaction. You catch a whiff of someone wearing her signature scent and … nothing.
23 First time he introduces you as “my girlfriend.” (Sigh.)
24 First time your bro calls to make plans with you and you factor her schedule into the decision.
25 First time she asks you to pick up tampons when you grab your keys for a beer run. Hey, you’ve paid for adult movies and rodent bait stations without embarrassment. All this purchase says about you is that you have a girlfriend, and she isn’t pregnant. Tip: Take along the top of the empty box to ensure you get the right kind.
26 First time (s)he hears you take a call from (a) a correctional facility; (b) Cousin Blair, who’s warning you about aliens again; or (c) your pot-smoking stepbrother who “needs a few bucks ’til payday,” which leads to that whole “Babe, my family’s crazy” discussion.
27 First chocolate milk. Giving someone your heart means giving him or her permission to hurt you. And if you’re a single parent, you’ve been wary about letting Baby Girl or Little Man meet that someone and potentially get hurt, too. Break out the bendy straws and pour three glasses. It’s time.
28 First time you meet her family. Mom and Dad, Granny and her sister, too, will give her all sorts of interesting feedback about the potential of a future with you. She’s OK with it.
29 First Facebook listing as “In a relationship.”
30 Fourth mundane chore you tackle together. The laundry, the grocery list, etc. Your relationship is no longer a nice escape from the every day. It is the every day.
31 First flu. (S)he made you soup and rinsed vomit out of a trash can? Hey, this is getting serious.
32 First time one of you “needs space.” Because, hey, this is getting serious.
33 Third time you hang with him and his boys. His buds have co-signed your courtship.
34 Fifth time she walks your dog or he changes your cat’s litter box. You’re nurturing something together.
35 First vacay as a couple. You’ll blissfully spend hours on the beach and between high thread-count hotel sheets. But beforehand, the two of you will make plans (where to go), reach compromises (what to do, how much to spend) and face obstacles together (a major delay, lost luggage).
36 First blowup that doesn’t feel like a breakup. Huge fights always felt like the end. You realize this one’s just a new beginning.
37 First long-term plans. You get a “save the date” message for your high school reunion six months away. (S)he’ll go with you, of course.
38 First time you’re jealous when (s)he mentions something the office spouse did or said.
39 First time you say “fiancé.”
40 Last condom you’ll ever wear. Commitment has its benefits.
41 First change of beneficiary on your life insurance.
42 First storm you weather as newlyweds. Illness, foreclosure, infertility, bereavement: You’ll see what your marriage is made of.
43 Second blue line on a pregnancy test. She peed on a stick. You’re not just a couple. You’re a family.
Landmarks of Love
Mark the special days between you and make them memorable! “Official rites of passage acknowledge and celebrate the points at which a couple chose to commit to each other and to their love,” says Chicago-based relationship communication trainer Eden Adele. “I’ve seen how a forgotten birthday or overlooked anniversary can hurt a relationship.
In a society replete with disposable connections and meaningless sex, these celebrations have an even deeper meaning. When couples celebrate these events publically, it adds a new level of credibility to how the relationship is viewed in our society and culture.”