Falling in love is a lot like running a marathon. Based on how well you are prepared, you either give up midway or sprint through the finish line of long-term bliss. If you are happy, you start of fresh, and end up raring to go all over again.
But whether your romance is a race, a haiku poem, a star-studded musical, an epic trilogy or a game of chess, here are the ten milestones you’ll cross in every relationship:
Congratulations! You have a new match!
Whether you found your recent paramour on Tinder, Grindr or Bro, there’s no denying that he has something that the other torsos (infesting the dating app of your choice) don’t. You giggle over puns, gush over the fact that both of you love yoga (after organic tea) and secretly screenshot his volunteering pictures from his time last year with Habitat for Humanity. You spend nights flirting over Grindr, lighting up with every beep.
At some point, you realise it makes sense to take it to the next level. You exchange your digits, because it’s too early to exchange rings.
You’ll soon play a Ping-Pong game of texts, sending sweet nothings to each other that sometimes really mean nothing at all. It’s a dance — sometimes it’s the rumba, sometimes it’s the salsa, sometimes it’s a good ol’ fashioned waltz. It’s a constant struggle of who messages first: will he? Won’t he? Will he? Won’t he?
It feels hopeless.
After many sleepless nights spent waiting for a text so you don’t seem desperate by sending two in a row (until you eventually mesh into a mash of texts, photos, memes and plans to meet for coffee), you’ll reach the point where you don’t care who’s supposed to message next.
And you’ll send him one yourself.
The kiss is the universal shorthand for intimacy. One minute you are smiling and stumbling your way into each other’s arms, and just like that, you are there — even before you can stop and ask for directions. It hits your core, and tingles all the way down to your Vitamin D deficient toes. The first kiss is a relationship milestone that usually makes its way to long-forgotten journals and recycled rom-coms, so make sure it counts.
Side note: Brownie points if he makes the first move. Even more brownie points if you make the first move.
You’ve bought the fresh new sheets. You’ve bought the condoms. You’ve bought the oils. And if you’re feeling fancy, you’ve even bought some aromatherapy candles. You’ve huffed and puffed and planned to blow the house down. Your romp lasts the entire duration of the La La Landsoundtrack, and feels like it too.
You might have liked it. You might have not. You might have clawed at his chest. You might have clawed at his back. You might have come. You might have not. Irrespective of whether you’ve orgasmed or not (because you like him enough to ignore the average sex for a while), you race your libido to the next stage.
Drool all over each other, and store your love in pictures on your phone and empty condom wrappers. Go on a date. Go on two. Go on a dozen. Go on a gazillion dates. Seize the moment, and capture as much of this phase as you can, because you are going to need it when you are old and withered.
Meeting the friends
You slowly permeate into his inner circle, while secretly hating each and every one of his friends. You courtesy and smile your way through the gang, answering the same questions over and over again till your smile freeze frames into a Polaroid picture. You guffaw with them about his exes (even though you don’t want to) and tell them the heartwarming tale of how you met (even though they don’t want to). Everyone knows you are a breakup away from never seeing each other ever again
As you repeat anecdote after anecdote, he tilts back his head and gives you a reassuring nod. You smile back because you can’t wait for him to do the same.
You’ve made all the right moves till now, and you’ve officially reached move day.
Your toothbrush joins his, and your painkillers find their own little sweet spot in his shower cabinet. Your socks tangle with his, your underwear finds its own intimate drawer, you even find your side of the bed (the one that doesn’t face the window). You are just moments away from getting matching towels.
As you unpack and spread your life all over his, applaud. This is where the rollercoaster begins.
It starts off with something small. An unanswered phone call. An unfed cat. A vague remark on their weight that may or may not have coincided with their birthday. You begin with a few well-placed jabs — a passive aggressive joke here, an eye roll there, it’s all in good humour. And then before you know it, the riptide of witty banter transforms into verbal blows — Why? How? What? When?
As you bombard each other with words, stares, rolls of clothes and love bites, you have an epiphany. You are in your first official fight, but you’ll make peace with it — a scar that heals, but never fades. You’ll walk out of your cocoon into the next one.
Congratulations! You’ve moved on to the next level.
This is when it gets tricky. Bags are packed, kisses are exchanged, but feelings are not. He’s going to leave a boyfriend-sized hole in your heart, and it sucks at your soul as if it were the last sip of Coca Cola. One of you is moving away. To a different school. To a different neighbourhood. To a different city. A different state. A different country. A different continent.
You survive, as long as it’s not a different person.
You’ve reached that point when you can function without needing each other all the time. There’s love; but it’s hidden behind boxes of Chinese takeout and IOU’s on the fridge. You wake up, and kiss him without worrying about morning breath. Sometimes, you don’t even take a shower before dinner. You aren’t a jigsaw puzzle anymore, but you occasionally solve one on Sundays.
This might take weeks, it might take months, and sometimes, it might even take years. But when it does, take solace in the fact that you’ve reached the white noise. Enjoy the complacency.
You’ve reached end game.