The 5 Stages of a Relationship
by John Ortved
The recent comments on Miss Canada and my status, compounded by a breakup suffered by my partner in Singled-ish crime, Erin, made me think about relationship statuses. Erin’s guy hadn’t called her for 3 days, and she took that as a sign something bad was coming. Before that his calls had dropped from several times a day to once ever other day, and she saw that as defining. Was she right to be suspicious? What are the signs that our relationship is in a certain stage, and how can we categorize them. I’ve given it a shot:
*Note: these are the stages of dating—anything past meeting the parents (moving in together, marriage, etc) and other past-boyfriend/girlfriend subject matter brings me out of my depth.
Your eyes meet. Numbers are exchanged. Dates are had. There are flowers. The time spent at first base is more like a seventh inning stretch. And then there are sleepovers. The cutest underwear is worn. Everything is new, and tasty, and repeated. Your friends know what he’s like in bed. You have to put effort into spacing out your calls to each other. You're Charlie in the chocolate factory, a Greek soldier within the walls of Troy, Carrie in the Vogue fashion closet. You literally can’t get enough.
No more spacing calls. No more playing it cool. You’re in serious like with each other. Sleepovers become more regular. You let each other see some kinks. You know his drink. He knows your favorite foods. He starts asking about your family and friends. Dinners and dates become less about impressing you and more about getting to know you. Your friends ask if it’s going somewhere. There are fewer flowers but more practical gifts (the hand blender your kitchen was without; the DVD you know he’ll love).
Things Left Behind
You begin figuring each other into most plans. “What time will you be done?” becomes a normal question, with no chance of intrusion. Sleepovers are a given, though not a must. You share toothbrushes, or you leave one at his place. You have the talk (DTR—Define The Relationship).
His appearances amongst your friends are no longer introductory, but regular. The calls and texts are more practical, less exciting—though the in-jokes and updates on the everyday (“guess what happened at work today?”) make up for it. There are fights and make-up rituals. You figure out more about each other’s boundaries.
The Parents…and beyond
He preps you and tells you not to worry when meeting the folks: it’s best not to talk about gambling with his dad; his mom can’t stand apples or people from Canada. The drive to his childhood home is no big deal because by now you’ve hit the road together many times. It doesn’t matter who pays for gas, or lunch, because at this point, it’s all coming out in the wash. The calls and emails tend to be mostly practical, though you both keep things exciting, jokey, and spontaneous (though these things start to require some thought). You start talking about the future…
After this it tends to go two ways: deeper routine or distance. The above guide is rough, based on my friends’ and my experience, and should be taken as such. Every relationship is different, and each needs to take its own course. That being said, if you’re spending every night at his house, but have never met his friends, there’s no DTR and you’ve gone on one proper date—it may be a good idea to consult the above.