Your first kiss. Your first date. Your first anniversary as a couple. The first dance at your wedding. Official milestones like these celebrate stages of intimacy, bring couples closer and legitimize their bond. But what about those unofficial milestones or private moments that aren’t card-, gift- or champagne-worthy but signal the growing comfort and caring between you? Step off beaten the path for a guided tour of these lesser-known landmarks along the relationship journey. Been there with some-one special? Y’all are boo’d up for real.

1 The third glance. You haven’t met—yet. But the fact that you’ve made eye contact more than once, and that this latest gaze lingers a moment, means someone’s gonna make a move.

2 The first phone call. Ideally, you’ll ring her cell the minute you’ve loaded her number into yours. That way, you know it’s the right number, and now she has your digits.

3 The second coffee. The first cuppa joe you had together came with a paper sleeve and a double shot of skepticism. Twenty minutes of vetting over a venti latte screens out the ditzy chicks, dogs and douchebags. But your second round of coffee arrives in ceramic mugs, along with a single order of red velvet cake and two forks. That means you clicked over dinner. Nobody talked with a full mouth, cursed out the waiter or went on a rant about his or her ex. And you’ve decided to savor a little more warmth and sweetness before the check arrives.

4 The third date. The first one made an impression. The second confirmed it. But the third date is the game changer. It’s where the fun begins.

5 The first kiss hello. A kiss goodbye on the mouth means, “We had a great time doing something.” A kiss hello on the mouth means, “We have something great.”

6 First nickname. Maybe (s)he doesn’t know about it yet. But the fact that you’ve got a little nickname for your new boo means (s)he’s got a special quality you can’t stop thinking about.

7 First time you broke “the two-day rule.” It’s been hours—not days—since you parted. So what? Games are for kids. You text, “When can I see you again?”

8  First PDA that’s in questionable taste. It’s more than a quick squeeze or a fleeting smooch. It is the kind of action that makes onlookers think, ‘Get a room!’ And that means your private time is about to get interesting.

9 First time you make him dinner. Because cooking an amazing meal is the second-most sensual thing you can do for him. And because the bedroom’s down the hall, he’ll go wild thinking about another major first.

10   First get-together with no specific plans. It’s not about the ball game, the blockbuster movie or the best barbecue in town. It’s about you and your new honey. And if that means sweats, frozen pizza and reruns of Scandal, cool.

11 First night out with the girls. No, not her girl-

friends, bruh. A few fum-bles with those hook-and-eye fasteners, and what was once Victoria’s Secret is now breaking news. One look, and you’re officially a happy dude.

12 First time he delivers the package. His ego is marked “fragile,” so handle this sitch with care. Whether modestly sized or large enough to require extra postage, show him he’s got your stamp of approval.

13 First time you see her “O” face. Does she grimace and groan? Wince and weep? Squeeze you and sigh? Ahh, one of life’s most exquisite mysteries solved. That look on her face may be contorted beyond recognition, but you’re the one who put it there, and it’s as sweet as her smile.

14 Third time he hangs in your ’hood. Let’s face it: You live 15 exits (or train stops) from downtown. Your apartment’s tiny, moo shoo pork deliveries take forever and you don’t have premium cable channels. Chalk up his first two visits to chivalry. This one’s for the sheer joy of seeing you.

15  First time you sleep with her—without having sex.

16 Fifth time in a row he calls you “just because.” Checking in has become a habit—and signals that he’s been thinking about you all day.

17   First fart in her presence. You let one rip. She didn’t trip. You’re nearly as relaxed while with her as you are while alone. Next time you serve up a hot, stinky air biscuit, maybe you’ll trap her under the covers with it. She’ll scream at you, but then she’ll laugh. ’Cause she’s cool like that.

18 First time he’s in on your beauty secrets. You took off your wig, your Spanx, your concealer. You put on your head scarf or your padded bra. You forgot to pack your curl moisturizer, so your ’do has gone from Afrolicious to awfully frizzy. And he tells you how pretty you are.

19 First poop at his 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.”