The way a relationship evolves has actually evolved itself over the past few decades. The terms “courting,” “puppy love,” and “waiting until marriage” simply do not apply to any facet of the common modern relationship. We are the hookup generation and the dating tables have been turned.
I don’t know when this happened, and maybe it’s been like this for longer than I think. No longer is it courting to dating to engagement to marriage to retirement. The modern relationship is a twisted web of sex, test driving, “breaks,” and other ridiculous dating buzzwords.
However, the thing that remains true in relationships is the endgame of marriage. Alec Baldwin explains:
So how do we get there?
Whether it’s after a long night of drinking or the eventual breakdown of the platonic barrier between two friends, the hookup is where the ball starts to roll. It might have started out as a mistake, but the two of you liked it.
The Sober Sleepover
Once you get to the sober sleepover stage, the lines between “using someone for sex” and “actually having a future with someone” begin to blur. This is a critical part of the relationship. I’ve learned more about people from pillow talk than I ever did over dinner and drinks. Believe it or not, this is the “make or break phase of the relationship. It’s the opportunity to solidify yourself as a suitable partner or to totally blow everything with an ill-timed fart.
A Real Date
You’ve test driven it around the block, but now it’s time to take this thing on the freeway and open it up. The fact that you’re willing to be seen in public together is a good sign moving forward. You’ve spent enough time together in private to be comfortable with it. Hell, you might even hold hands. Score.
At some point, you have to define the relationship. Are you two just having fun? Does the other one know that you’re just having fun? Do you want to keep seeing this person? Does he or she want to keep seeing you? Have a seat on the couch, hash it out, and DTR. If you have any sort of self-awareness or relationship radar, you should both have an idea of what the other person is going to say.
The Pregnancy Scare
It’s not a relationship until she says those three magic words: “I am late.” It’s actually pretty tough to get pregnant (still, be safe out there) but there’s nothing that will put a scare into you and send you into “SAVE ALL YOUR MONEY NOW” mode than the sheer thought of you bringing a human being into this world. No worries, though. She was just on a weird cycle this month. Crisis averted.
It’s pretty much the 21st century version of marriage. You’re officially public.
The Instagram Vacation
There are several tests each relationship must go through before you can make progress. I would argue the most important is the travel test. Does your significant other have flight anxiety? Is he or she going to be late to the airport? Does he or she pack well? Sunburn easily? All important questions that will be answered the first time the two of you travel together. Not to worry though, the insane amount of Instagram pics the two of you will post will make it seem like the trip went off without a hitch.
Ah, yes. The starter child. One of you is responsible for a living, breathing animal. You’ll fall in love with it. A dog serves as a non-legal binding contract between the two of you. Soon, “a dog” becomes “our dog.” You’re in it for the long haul now.
Moving In Together
Talk about binding contracts. You’re literally entering into a legal agreement with each other and your landlord. You can’t back out now. For the love of God, do not do this because it makes “financial sense.” Do it because you have no problem seeing your significant other in sweatpants and a T-shirt from high school every night. That’s love right there.
You’re all in now. No backing out. Well, that is unless you want to look like a huge asshole to everyone you’ve ever met.
Congratulations. You made it. Get ready to work.