Sure, you can move in together, or get a pet. It’s a big deal to cohabit, and to commit to a species, a breed, a name, and a strategy for disciplining a living creature. But nothing says “I love you, and I’m here to stay” like a truly unique gesture. So consider these 10 methods of showing the person you love that you’re in it for the long haul without even mentioning marriage.
1. Nominate your partner to be your post mortem Facebook manager.
To demonstrate undying affection on the social media front, go beyond updating your status to “in a relationship.” Nominate the person you care deeply about to be your Legacy Contact, thereby authorizing them to manage your account after you pass away. This is one of the super rare cases in which the topic of death is generally more inspiring than upsetting.
2. Become each other’s medical proxies.
Speaking of mortality, you might as well put your partner in charge of carrying out your wishes in case you’re ever seriously injured. Totally morbid? Not necessarily. Creating a living will, the official document that forces you to clarify your wishes regarding life prolonging medical treatments, is a precaution every adult should take anyway. And discussing the prospect of allowing your significant other to make serious decisions on your behalf is really kind of lovely. So print out a standard living will online (there are several websites that provide free ones), nominate your partner with the responsibility of carrying out your wishes, and get those documents notarized. It’ll be nice to get your shit together simultaneously.
3. Send out holiday cards.
Holiday cards are generally distributed to your closest family and friends, as well as to all the people you haven’t spoken to in five to ten years
who might prove helpful from a professional standpoint with whom you’d like to reconnect. A holiday card is a small, identity-defining piece of paper emblematic of your current existence. People keep those things on display for months on end! So sending one out into the world as a couple is a big fucking deal. When it comes to holiday cards, after all, there are no do-overs.
4. Get a family phone plan.
Even if you’re not ready to walk down the aisle, combining mobile phone accounts is bound to save you both money, and it’s a great first step towards joint financial planning. It’s not exactly an irreversible move, but mobile contracts can be a major pain in the ass to renegotiate, so it’s a perfectly respectable way to say, “I promise to have and to hold you—at least until mobile phone contracts do us part.” (Next, let your significant other answer your phone once in a while when a close friend or a family member calls, which announces to the world that you two function as a team.)
5. Streamline your subscriptions.
When you have no plans to leave someone, there’s no reason to pay twice for anything. So write out a list of every paid-for service and designate who should pay for what moving forward: Netflix, HBO Go, Showtime, Hulu, the New York Times, etc. It’ll feel good to come to a mutual agreement, and to save some loot while you’re at it.
6. Play husband and wife in public.
When you’re eating out at a restaurant or grabbing drinks at a bar one night, refer to each other as husband and wife. Although no one’s likely to question your naked ring fingers, you can wear some replica wedding bands just for the occasion. It’ll be a little weird but mostly fun to play an innocuous trick on a few waiters and bartenders while nurturing an inside joke. Plus, it’s an effective way to demonstrate that you intend to marry someone, even if you’re not quite there yet.
7. Tell the truth about how many people you’ve slept with.
Especially during the initial stages of dating, we all have a tendency to fib when it comes to stating the number of people we’ve had sex with. So if you haven’t already revised your initial estimate, pipe up and be honest about your “number.” Even if the data’s a little shocking, your honesty will (hopefully) be appreciated.
8. Share passwords.
Sharing passwords to online accounts (email, social media, banking) can be a more powerful demonstration of commitment than buying someone a diamond engagement ring. A shiny gem might cost up to tens of thousands of dollars, but a heartfelt password exchange is absolutely priceless.
9. Keep some secrets in your very own couples vault.
Secrets automatically breed intimacy, so every couple should have some. It doesn’t matter what you choose to keep classified—a sexual proclivity, what you cook for dinner, or where you vacation—as long as you actually both keep mum about it. We all tend to have a few best friends throughout our lives whose secrets we actually keep, and by bestowing the person we love with a version of that privilege, we substantiate their status in our lives.
10. Send each other calendar listings.
Having future plans tends to make people feel secure in a relationship. But even if the events you enter take place in the not-so-distant future, the act of intertwining schedules elicits closeness.