What are the key stages of dating and relationships? The key dating milestones and relationship milestones? And how do relationships naturally progress?
In this post, we’re going to break it all down.
Are things moving too quickly? Have you missed some key steps? Or are you stuck at a specific stage and struggling to move forward?
Here, we’ll help you to establish where you’re at, how you feel, look back at how far you’ve come and smile, plus be able to look forward to all the things that are also to come.
Remember, this is a journey. Enjoy every moment, every stage. So let’s jump straight in…
Let’s begin with the dating milestones before you get in a relationship. What are the key stages and significant moments, indicating that the two of you are progressing? Well, you’ve got:
1) The First Date
This is the starting point. The first date may be the first time you met, or maybe you knew each other before, but the first date was the first moment you started to explore things romantically.
- What did you do? How did it go? How did you feel?
2) The First Kiss
Next up, you’ve got the first kiss. Whether this is on the first date or not (it could be before!), it’s still a key moment that you will look back on and smile about.
- Were there sparks flying? How did it happen? Who initiated it? How did you feel?
3) The First Time Getting Intimate
At some point or another, you’re also going to have developments in the bedroom. Now everyone’s different with when and how soon this happens, but there’s really no judgements either way.
- Was it planned? Did you know it was going to happen? Or did one thing just lead to another? What was it like? Were there emotions involved? How strong is your sexual chemistry? How did things continued to develop from there?
4) Public Affection
You’ll also find progressions with public affection. And this doesn’t have to be full on. It could be simply holding hands, or looking / acting like a couple.
- When did you stop worrying about “awkwardly” bumping into people you know? At which point did you begin to feel comfortable with each other? Comfortable enough to start to see each other as a “thing”?
5) Expressing Your Feelings
Expressing your feelings is another dating milestone. So maybe throughout, there may be complements or the odd comment of saying that you like the person or think they’re pretty cool.
But when did you both start to let your guard down? When did you express how you feel?
- Do you remember the first moment you realised you had genuine feelings for each other? Who shared this first and how did you both share it? How did you feel and how has that grown from there?
Another big dating milestone now then, is of course when you have the talk about exclusivity. Now in terms of when this usually happens, it can vary depending on a number of factors. But if you’re interested to find out more about the “norm” click on over here:
- How did it come about for the two of you? Was it a spoken conversation? Who brought it up? Or was it just a natural agreement with the two of you already on the same page?
Mini Dating Milestones
Some other common dating milestones that I want to throw in now, include:
- Any new experiences together – going on different types of places, seeing each other in different types of situations, sharing different experiences together, as a couple.
- You’ll also start to get more comfortable around them, so you’ll reach the point where you’ll happily chill together in trackies and no makeup, or perhaps they’ll pass wind and not cringe! etc.
7) Becoming Official
Last but not least then, in our dating milestones, you have the moment when the two of you become official. It goes from dating, to dating exclusively, to finally becoming a proper, fully-committed couple. (Woohoo!)
- How did this happen for the two of you? Did you ask him out or did he ask you? Was you ready for it and expecting it or did it come as a surprise? How do you recall the day? What made it such a special memory for you? How did your partner feel – were they nervous?!
New Relationship Milestones
Once you’re in a relationship then, what are the first relationship milestones? What have we got for you here, as things continue to move forward? Well…
8) Saying I Love You
Another major relationship milestone is – of course – saying those three special words: “I love you.” And isn’t it a moment you’ll always remember?
- When was the first time you said I love you? How long had you known that you’d felt it? How did it happen? Did your partner say it back or had they already said it to you? What made it special?
9) Meeting Friends
Another nice relationship milestone is when you start to meet their friends. Now this is often done earlier – in the dating and exclusive stage, as it’s good for a potential partner to see how well you fit into their life. But of course, everyone is different.
As time goes on, you’re likely to spend more time with your partner in group environments. You’ll maybe do more group dates, go to more events together and be in more social settings. This leads me onto my next relationship milestone…
10) Meeting Family
Meeting the parents, meeting the family – it’s a big one isn’t it?! But it’s important, especially if family is important to the two of you.
- When was the first time you met your partners parents? How about their wider family? And when did they meet yours? What was that experience like? How did you feel? How did you all get on?
11) Sharing On Social Media
It shouldn’t be a milestone, but with today’s world – it is. This is another relationship milestone that’s not necessarily set in stone or set to just one stage. It depends on each couple and how active they are on socials too. But at some point, this will come.
- When did you post your first story with them? When did you take and share your first picture together? Were there any soppy captions back then? How does that differ to how you act on socials now?
- How about updating your relationship status? When did you do that? Did you change things as soon as you became official, or wait a little?
Mini Relationship Milestones
Some more mini relationship milestones include: sharing passwords, leaving your toothbrush in each others home, maybe being given a drawer even or some space to put more of your clothes or belongings – the more time you spend together.
It won’t be all fun and glory though. As your relationship progresses, you will also have to deal with conflict: having your first major disagreement, having your first argument even.
It can be a reality check for sure, but it’s actually an important relationship milestone – learning how you both deal with conflict. You start to see each other as the whole, perfectly imperfect person. It’s more realistic, a natural progression.
The great thing is, if you’re able to learn more about the other person, understand them better and deal with these conflicts properly – it only then brings you closer.
12) Deep Discussions
Next up, next up, we’ve got those big important “deep chats.” So at one point or another, you’ll probably speak about finances, exes, difficult past experiences, what you want in life, conversations about the future even.
These are likely to come up at different times, maybe even multiple times and will then continue throughout the relationship as it progresses. Open conversation is important however, so it’s always a good sign when you get to this stage.
- How long did it take you to open up to your partner? How long did it take them? At which point did you know that you could trust them? When did certain things start to crop up and seem relevant? How did the conversations go? Were there any things that surprised you?
13) First Trips Away
A fun one now then, but another relationship milestone is when you go on your first night away, your first staycation, your first holiday together, and maybe even, that led to travelling.
- How did the trips go? Did they run smoothly? What were they like back then compared to what they’re like now? Who usually takes charge? Who drives this sort of thing?
14) Spending Holidays Together
Some other key milestones now then, are when you start to spend holidays together. So we’ve got Valentines Day designed for couples, we’ve then got the smaller holidays like Easter etc.
But when did you reach the point where you started spending Thanksgiving and Christmas together? When did it reach the point where you couldn’t imagine spending it without your partner there?
This is actually quite a big milestone as – when you reach this stage – it shows that your partner is fully integrated with your family, and your life.
- How did you spend your first Christmas or Thanksgiving together? Who’s house did you spend it at, or did you spend it at both of yours? Did you wake up together? Spend the entire day? Or was it a gradual progression to that point?
Ah things are progressing now. We’re into the final section (eek!) Now these are the most typical relationship milestones now, but I really want to highlight the fact that you don’t have to go down any set route.
Yes, this is what society tends to do as a whole when it comes to relationships. But you have to do what’s best for the two of you – discarding any pressures or expectations.
15) Moving In Together
First up, we’ve got moving in together, and – actually – this is a pretty fun relationship milestone to be able to get too. Are you ready? Was this part rushed? Find out here…
What also usually comes at this point, is you’ll also start to get a joint account and team up with your finances a little. But that’s a good thing! It can just be testing on relationships if money-management is not one or both of your thing!
- When did you move in together? How was that experience? In what ways did it affect your relationship? For the better or the worse? What did you learn about your partner by then living with them? And what did they learn about you (besides perhaps, you being a little messy, right?!)
16) Getting a Pet Together
Many couples also have the relationship milestone of getting a pet together.
Whether that be a little goldfish or a Siberian Husky – getting a pet together is actually a big step, and the start of creating your home / family life.
(My boyfriend recently bought a “totally purrfect” little Maine Coon kitten and this has been our best decision yet – further strengthened our relationship and bringing us even closer!)
- Who’s idea was it to get a pet? Were you in agreement about the type of pet? What was it like going to find your pet? How did it impact your relationship? What value did it add to your lives?
17) Buying a Place Together
We’re flying through these now! (Exciting huh?) But as time goes on – and particularly once you’ve already lived together, presumably renting or staying at one of your homes – then comes the point where you find your first home together, and buy this.
This is a big step, a big commitment and also a big statement about where you’re both at.
- How did you find your first home? What was the best and worst part of that experience? Are you still in it now? What makes it special to the two of you? How did you make the place your own?
18) Getting Engaged
Ahhh, now then comes the engagement. Whether there were whispers of “when are you two getting married then?!” or not, if you’re at the point of engagement, then the two of you are, most likely, in a pretty good place and really rather secure.
- How did the engagement happen? What was the proposal like? How did you feel in that moment? What made it so special? How was it so “right” for the two of you?
19) Getting Married
What comes after engagement? Well, marriage of course. (Presuming the two of you are strong enough to hit that next big relationship milestone!)
Now to give you an indication – the average length of an engagement is 1 year to 18 months, but again – it can vary.
- What was your wedding like? Was it everything you’d ever dreamed of? What were some of the most special moments? Is it up there with one of the best days of your life?
20) Starting a Family
Last but not least then, the final major relationship milestone to highlight in this post today, is – for many – starting a family and having children.
Now traditionally, this happens after marriage, but now – more than ever – there’s more people having children before.
The thing is, a new study suggests that couples who have children together before getting married are no more likely to get divorced than couples who go about it the traditional way. Which is good news right?
So whichever way you go about it, if you’ve hit the relationship milestone of having kids… well, that’s really something, and all the more of an achievement if you continue to thrive together from there.
Relationship Milestones Timescale
So we’ve now ran through 20+ of the key dating milestones and relationship milestones. But how does this stand time wise? Where do you expect to be when?
Well The Tab published an interesting article on the average relationship milestones. You can bob on over here to give it a read.
You’ll see things like: meeting their best friend within a month, introducing them to your parents within 6 months, getting engaged within just over 2 years (surprisingly!), buying a home together within 3 years, and so on.
However it’s important to remember – this is just one study, in one area. It’s actually very difficult to give an overall average and aside from this, too many other things come into it.
See, the age of the couple, the situation they’re in, the stage of their life that they’re at, what they’re looking for then and there, their past experiences – they all have an impact.
I therefore wouldn’t recommend judging your relationship milestones on the timescales of an “average”. Instead, it’s more about the pace that the two of you want to go and the two of you are BOTH happy with.
There’s no rush, no pressure. This is your story, your journey. The most important thing is that you’re on the same page with where you are, how you feel and what’s to come.
That’s All For This One
So there we have it – the key relationship milestones.
Where are you currently at? What have you experienced together, what memories have you collected so far, and where do you both see this going?
Whichever path you’re both taking, I hope that you have very many new and exciting milestones ahead!
Wishing you all the best.