Having sex for the first time
This is not a “only sluts have sex early in relationships” or “Jesus hates orgasms” thing. If it feels like to throw down with someone three hours after meeting them, you will catch no shade from me. Like, get it. I’m all for it. “Having sex early in dating” and “rushing sex” are two incredibly different things.
Only you can know what pieces should be in place for sex to be perfect; maybe you need to be in love with someone. Maybe you need to be dating for a while and feel super comfortable with them. Maybe you prefer to get it out of the way really early so you know if you’re sexually compatible before getting emotionally attached. Maybe you just need shaved legs, clean sheets, and a low enough blood alcohol content to feel in control of your choices. No matter what your set of parameters around an ideal first sex experience, don’t settle for less than that, especially not the first time. It should be fun and sexy and sweet and exciting with a new person – you’ll have plenty of time for less-than-stellar sex down the road because that shit just does happen. But for the first time, you owe it to yourself to give it every chance it can get to be awesome.
Saying “I love you”
I’m not one of those people who thinks that there is an appropriate timeframe in which it is acceptable to first say “I love you” to someone. I’ve said it after knowing someone for one day, or after a month, or not until we had known each other for years. And in each case, it was just as real and valid and true. That’s how love works. That shit is fickle, and appears on different timelines and with different levels of intensity or clarity in every relationship.
So the reason I say to hold off on saying those words for as long as possible isn’t because I think it’s scary to say them – I think we should tell the people we love how we feel as often as possible, with as much meaning as possible, because why else are we even alive? I also completely dismiss the idea that loving someone automatically assumes all these other things about the relationship, like that you’re somehow more committed or serious or whatever; it just means you love them. It’s a feeling. It’s a positive thing. People attach a lot of bullshit to it that doesn’t need to be there. The only thing is does mean is that, if you really love someone, you commit to not treating them like shit. Because you love them. That could look very different for different people.
I real reason to wait to ILY bomb someone you’re dating is this: Before you say those words, you dance around them, and in doing so, you come up with a ton of other ways to express how you feel, and what you love about them. And often, those “I love you” replacements end up being far more specific, personal, and genuine than anything else. Once you get in the habit of saying “I love you”, it can be all too easy to fall back on those words and neglect to put the energy into crafting custom compliments or more unique expressions of affection.
Calling each other “girlfriend” or “boyfriend”
Some couples actually have the “okay, so we’re, like, in this? We’re not gonna go bone other people from now on? We’re a thing?” conversation, but more often than you would think, the first wave of commitment in a new relationship comes from one of the people involved casually dropping the “girl/boyfriend” bomb and the other person hearing it. It’s kind of the only time when passive communication is pretty adorable. And then maybe after that, you have the “our sex parts are exclusively touching each other now” convo.
With that in mind, be careful about dropping that label, especially if they are within earshot. This doesn’t come from a place of relationship-phobia. But keeping your options open for as long as is reasonable is a prudent, logical thing for any savvy dater to do. Don’t get high off the cute novelty of calling someone your boy/girlfriend without first thinking about if you’re really ready to take yourself out of single status.
Introducing them to your best friends/family
When you’re crazy about someone, it’s easy to think “OMG this is it. They are the person. Time for them to meet all of my important people because it’s time for them to get used to the idea of spending forever knowing each other.” I get it. That feeling can be overwhelming. When you love people, you want them to meet and get down to the inevitable business of them loving each other too. But there is nothing worse than telling your friends and family about meeting the “love of your life” and having them barely pay attention – because you’ve introduced them to 5 other “loves of your life” before.
Moving in together
When you’re dating someone and it’s going really well, and has been going well for a while, everything you do together feels utterly blissful. Going grocery shopping is a delightful, wistful experience. Who knew having a light-hearted debate over the best flavor of Pop Tarts could be so romantic? They have a toothbrush in your bathroom. There’s nothing more comforting and exciting than waking up next to them in the morning, making breakfast, opening the windows, turning on music, and generally existing next to one another in the same space. The two of you are like a perfectly harmonized machine of domestic contentment already – what wouldn’t be amazing about taking the leap and actually living together?
Well, a lot. And actually, I’m not saying that it’s always a mistake to formally begin co-habitating with someone; it’s often a wonderful moment of positive growth and further solidification in a relationship. But don’t confuse “playing house” with “actually shacking up”. Part of what allows for such walking-on-air moments of domestic togetherness to exist is this knowledge in the back of your mind that, if need be, you both have your own spaces to retreat to. Think about everything you love doing in your own place, on your own time, with no one else around. When you live with someone, your ability to do those things plummets. Sure, when it’s right, you stand to gain a lot. But it doesn’t mean you aren’t also giving up a lot. And ideally, if you move in together, it’s forever, right? So don’t rush. If these really might be your last days/weeks/months of living on your own or with awesome roommates, try to be fully present and enjoy every damn minute of it.
Telling them your 5-year plan
Being forthcoming about your ultimate goals and wants in life is a vital part of building a good relationship. You owe it to yourself and the person you’re dating to be as clear as possible about what you want and where you see your life going, while still allowing room for the fact that maybe you don’t completely know, and that obviously people change, and thus might your plans. Still, it’s important to identify what you want instead of constantly tailoring your life plans to suit those of the person you’re dating.
That said, that shit does not need to be discussed on the first date. Telling someone you “definitely never want kids” or “absolutely must be married by the time you’re 32” before they’ve even asked what you do for a living is like throwing giant cement blocks on the dinner table – it’s awkward, heavy, and unnecessary. Like, give yourselves a minute to see if some basic chemistry is present – to see if you even like each other – and then start to ease into your big picture plans to see if you are on the same page.