7 Relationship Milestones You Don’t Have To Reach By Your First Anniversary
Even though it seems like a decent chunk of time, being with someone for one year is, the grand scheme of things, not very long at all. So if it feels like you haven't reached certain milestones by your first anniversary, that's more than OK.
While some couples steamroll right ahead and are already moving in together, making wedding plans, or merging their bank accounts by the one year mark, that's not going to be the case for everyone. "Every relationship matures at a different rate. And every individual matures at a different rate," Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle. "Each person in the relationship is changing over time, the relationship is changing over time, and circumstances are changing over time. All of these come together to create very different paths of growth for relationships."
It's much more important to focus on how you feel, rather than arbitrary milestones. "As long as you feel the relationship is moving in the right direction and you’re both happy, there’s no sense stressing out just because something didn’t happen within the first 365 days of the relationship," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. If it's meant to be, there will be plenty of time to do the things listed below, if you so choose.
1. Saying "I Love You"
While many people feel pressured to say these three words once they've been together for a while, not all couples end up professing their love by the one year mark. And that's OK.
You may also have different ways of showing your love for each other, that have nothing to do with uttering this phrase. "So don't write off the relationship if you haven't heard those three little words by the 12 month mark," therapist Marissa Geraci, LMHC, tells Bustle. "Pay attention to how you feel when you are with that person. And ask yourself if there is anything else they do that is an indication of their commitment to you."
2. Revealing Your Deepest Hopes & Fears
While you'll sure spend a lot of time getting to know each other during your first year together, you certainly won't know everything there is to know — and that may include each other's deepest, darkest thoughts.
"We all think of this as key to being together," Dr. Klapow says. "But for many couples it takes well over a year to become truly vulnerable and authentic with one another. We believe we are being open, but often the first year is shrouded in 'bliss.' The deeper, often more protected dreams, fears, thoughts come later in the relationship."
3. Figuring Each Other Out
Similarly, you may not feel like you fully have each other figured out by the one year mark. And the reality is, you may never get to that point.
"We think that because they are our soulmates we know everything there is to know about them, but one year together is only a glimpse into who this person is," Dr. Klapow says. "It’s OK to still be grappling with their tendencies, their habits, and their way of communicating at one year." And beyond.
4. Making Plans For The Future
While you'll likely have a general sense of what you're both looking for in a long-term relationship — including whether you want kids, if you imagine yourselves getting married, etc. — it's fine if you haven't talked specifics.
"Marriage, kids, and buying a house may not be something you’re ready for," therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW, tells Bustle. So don't read into it too heavily if you've yet to chat about big things. You can, however, set a time in the future where you'd like to start having important conversations, to ensure you're both be on the same page.
5. Trusting Each Other 100 Percent
Of course, in order for a relationship to be healthy — and make it to that one year mark — you'll likely have some level of trust in each other. But if you still have a few worries or insecurities, don't sweat it.
"It would be nice to trust them 100 percent, but after one year you still may have some concerns about their actions, their habits, and their intentions," Dr. Klapow says. "It’s not as if this sits with you every day, but one year is not enough time, in some cases, to have unwavering trust."
It is, however, something you'll want to work on improving going forward, so that your relationship can get even healthier.
6. Knowing They're "The One"
A year sounds like a long time, but it isn't always enough time to truly get to know a person, much less decide if you want to spend the rest of your lives together.
As Dr. Klapow says, "You may still be struggling with where you are going as a couple, and that is OK after year one. It’s normal and happens to most couples."
7. Understanding Each Other's Sexual Needs
There's often a lot of pressure placed on couples to enjoy the honeymoon stage of their relationship by having a ton of sex right off the bat. But it's important to stick to what feels right.
As Bennett says, if you both want to take it slow, that's perfectly fine. Don't pay attention to what anyone says, but instead stick to what feels right for you as a couple.
Keep in mind, it also may take some time to get comfortable talking about sex in general, so don't fret if you're still guessing what the other wants in the bedroom. As long as you remain open to chatting about your needs, and truly listening to each other, this is a skill that'll come about in time.
As will the other milestones, such as expressing your love for each other, talking about the future, and knowing they're "The One." It may not happen by the one year mark, but as long as you're happy and the relationship feels healthy, it's definitely not something to worry about.