Maintaining a relationship is akin to taking care of a newborn puppy — except this particular puppy is volatile, unpredictable, and unbelievably sexually fulfilling. Wait…no.
Actually, maintaining a relationship is like baking a pie! You have to get all the ingredients right or it’ll totally taste like shit! Like baking, if you’re not experienced with relationships, each step along the way can be a total nightmare.
So, here is a list of the scariest parts of a relationship in chronological order. Let us hope that acknowledging these things will help us overcome them as a culture — also, there are zero instructions on how to make pie here. Sorry.
1. Deciding to meet up in real life
So, you’ve decided to take your relationship off the screen and meet up in the real world. Great… where do you go? An expensive restaurant that’ll drain your bank account? A dive bar that might give off the impressive you’re a penny-pinching philistine?
Or that new churrascaria place that will undoubtedly yield zero vegetarian options? Pro-tip: try somewhere that fits into the vast venn diagram that is life and use the tool of compromise by, y’know, maybe asking what they like to eat?
2. Figuring out their vibe
The journey doesn’t stop after you match the human to a profile picture and figuring out their true personality is a task that doesn’t necessarily end after your first date. What are they really like?
Do they present an air of spontaneity and recklessness that can either mean they’re outgoing or running from the law? Who’s to tell?! It’s hard pinpointing the type of personality that matches yours, especially when the personality in question hasn’t been deciphered.
3. Paying for stuff
So, what kind of couple are you going to be? Are you going to treat them to every single meal, will you split the check on occasion, or will it be a smattering of the two? While this little detail should always be that — a little detail — it’s something that can build up and cause resentment if not properly talked about and dealt with on the spot. It’s 2016, girls can pay for guys and guys can pay for girls.
You can both split the check every single time or always offer to get it. Just talk about it first and don’t make it a thing, ya goof.
4. The first kiss
You may not realize it, but a kiss has some serious weight behind it. Something as simple and innocent as placing your lips on theirs can fuel the first inklings of feelings that lead to something as more than fuck buddies, friends-with-benefits, or the all-too-common WELP. This especially rings true if you do a lot of tongue-stuff.
5. That part where you have to show the person your actual personality
For the first few weeks of a relationship, everybody puts on a mask that filters out all of the weird, controversial, and boring things you usually say to your friends. Once you realize that it’s not possible to be 100% compatible with someone else by completely straining and refining your personality, the scary part comes about when you have to put your real personality to the test.
Do you not like bagels as much as you first led her to believe? Are you starting to realize she might not like you because you’re a national socialist? You guys should probably have a chat, re: bagels and being a Nazi.
6. Seeing them naked and doin’ stuff
If you’re still at the stage where you think real-life sex looks anything like movie-sex, you’re doing it all wrong — life, that is. Sex in real life is nothing like the erotic romps you see in the movies. It’s awkward, smelly, loud, and someone’s fat always gets pinched by a stray elbow.
Going through this with a loved one is hard enough, but jumping into a physical relationship with someone you don’t know is torture. The build-up can be even worse — obsessing over every single detail on your body: your disproportionate feet, those oddly light-colored nipples, all that damn chest hair. It’s a miracle that humans actually like having sex with one another.
7. Hanging out in the daytime
It’s strange to think back and realize that you’ve never actually spent quality time with your new partner under the light of the sun. That’s just how it goes when you’re part of the generation where first dates typically happen during the late-night hours in the darkness of a bar.
The first hurdle to get over is figuring out something to do — where do people go during the daytime? You very well can’t watch TV and order Seamless with someone you barely know… that’s why we have brunch: in which two strangers can eat and drink together during the early afternoon hours and have the choice to use alcohol as a crutch when the conversation sours.
8. Meeting their friends
Ah yes, a litmus test that’s arguably more important that meeting the parents. Meeting the friends — specifically the best friend — and gaining the approval of said peanut gallery can be an experience that’ll make or break the relationship.
If the friends don’t like you, you’re out. If you don’t like the friends, you’re screwed — because, who’s she going to choose: her longtime childhood friends who’ve been with her through thick and thin or the part-time DJ she met on Bumble?
9. Getting into a fight
When you’ve been in a relationship for more than a year, you expect fights and — more importantly — know how to fix them before they spiral out of control. However, your first fight is truly terrifying; seeing a side of the person you’ve only known to be happy and accommodating is a rude awakening that can only be quelled with actual conversation and apologies.
The first fight won’t always dictate how you fix arguments in the future, but it is a good indicator in seeing how you two work when all that good chemistry goes bad. Saying sorry is hard, but long silences filled with ice-cold stares is kinda worse.
10. Deciding to be exclusive
Dating is a lot different than it used to be — you’d be hard-pressed to find a couple who’ve known each other “since grade school” and have “never spent a day apart.” This is 2016! People go on ten dates a night nowadays and bail when things start to get serious.
Knowing there’s someone else literally a swipe away who’d be willing to drop everything to see you even a little naked keeps couples from being couples. And, sure, maybe your real soul mate isn’t the person you’re seeing right now — that’s a scary thought, especially when that person wants to make things official.
That means no more flirting, no making out on the dance floor, no more booty calls, and no more glory holes. Wait, you’re both into glory holes? How wonderful that you found each other!
11. Figuring out birth control
Condoms? The pill? Are you going to pull out and accidentally get it on her dress again? Now that there’s no one else in the picture, you’re free to experiment with your birth control method to your heart’s content. Some people like going nuts and having totally wild unprotected sex — those people are now proud (?) parents.
12. Moving in together
You’re no longer allowed to fart in bed, your things become our things, and pooping suddenly causes attacks of anxiety. Moving in together is one of the biggest steps a couple can take before marriage and it’s the time where the relationship gets frighteningly real.
It’s a time where you have to ask yourself: do I want to see this person every single day? If the answer is yes, then you’ve got nothing to worry about — just make sure to pick up after yourself and do the damn dishes.
13. Meeting the parents
Most people meet the parents before they move in together, but some think they can bypass this little detail and go for the gold without schmoozing with the folks. Regardless of your living situation, it’ll never not be terrifying to meet the people who gave birth to the person you’re currently having sex with in multiple positions.
You can tell when they don’t like you, too, and the disapproval will leak into every action and reaction they have with you. On the other hand, having parents on your side is the ultimate way to ensure the foundation of your relationship is solid as Iraq. Pre-war Iraq, of course.
14. Buying something together
Whether it’s a car, a sofa, or a puppy named Jonestown — there’s always a level of risk with putting two names on one physical object. What happens if you break up!? You can always sell a car or a couch, but what’s going to happen to ol’ Jonestown? JONESTOOOOOOWN!
15. Getting married
That kind of seals it, you’re in for the long run.
16. Going to a funeral together
This is a biggie — learning how to deal with grief when said grief is not your own. It’s scary being around a person who’s suffered a loss and figuring out how you factor into their healing process. Plus, if you’re a guy — this is the stage in your life when you finally acquire a black suit. Black looks good on a lot of people, though.
17. Having a kid
Remember that metaphorical puppy you were given when you first started dating your significant other? Well, it just grew up and had a puppy of its very own — this puppy is even more unpredictable and emotional than the first one and constantly shits itself. Congratulations, this is a terrifying event.
There’s a good amount of stuff that happens between having a child and actually dying — but death really is the biggest thing that’ll rock a relationship. That’s why we should all hope that we’ll die at the exact same time as our significant others. It’s the most morbidly romantic gesture you can make!