Moving in together, meeting the squad, saying ILY, and sharing your streaming account password — these are just a few of the momentous moves you can make with your partner. And while some of these steps are certainly worth taking in order to experience shared growth, there are also a number of potentially overrated relationship milestones that you can totally ditch if you choose.
Every couple is obviously unique, which means that milestones can look very different from relationship to relationship. For some, introducing a new partner to their fam is a big step. For others, it's spending the holidays together for the first time. And very often, it's the little things that count — like having your first argument, your first sleepover, or peeing with the door open. (To each their own, am I right?) The ones that feel especially meaningful to some couples may not really matter to you, and vice versa. Ultimately, milestones are just meant to demonstrate that your relationship is progressing.
So, let's be clear. There is no milestone that's silly, insignificant, or unworthy or celebrating. But if these particular steps don't fit within your relationship priorities, then feel free to skip right over them.
The One-Month Anniversary
If you don't love the idea of celebrating your one-month, three-month, or six-month anniversary, fret not. Just because other people are posting Instagram pics from all of these mini-milestones doesn't mean you have to follow suit. Maybe spending one year together feels more meaningful to you, or maybe you and your boo simply aren't into making a big deal out of anniversaries. Either way, you have my full permission to pass.
An Extravagant Valentine's Day
Feb. 14 brings a lot of pressure for couples to plan elaborate celebrations, like making a reservation at a restaurant you can't afford, buying a lavish gift you're not even sure your partner will like, or booking a hotel room for an over-the-top evening just for some 'Gram-worthy pics. But guess what? You don't need to give into that pressure just to prove something about your relationship.
You and your SO get to define what your ideal Valentine's Day looks like, whether it's snuggling up at home for a romantic movie marathon, cheering on your favorite pro sports team, baking something together, or ignoring the holiday entirely.
An Engagement Ring
Sure, for some couples, proposing involves getting down on one knee, offering up a ring, and throwing a big soiree to celebrate the milestone with loved ones. But just because these traditions have persisted through the years doesn't mean you have to abide by them if they don't feel like they fit your relationship.
In fact, more and more couples are defying convention and doing things their own way. For example, some people get tattoos instead of exchanging rings. Or, why not take the money that would have gone toward a diamond ring and put it toward a down payment on a house to invest in your future together? If you and your boo are animal lovers, you could adopt a pet instead (engagement puppies FTW). The point is, an engagement ring isn't your only option for signaling that you're taking the next step in your relationship with a life-long commitment.
Becoming "IG Official"
There's no doubt that posting that first Instagram photo as a couple can be a game-changer for some couples. And there's nothing wrong with carefully choosing the perfect pic and crafting a clever caption to announce your relationship to the digital world. But if you're the type of person who rolls your eyes every time you see one of these posts (or just feels weird making a big deal out of it), I have some good news: You totally don't have to participate in this milestone.
What's most important is that you know you and your partner have a meaningful bond. And when you're ready to make those introductions, your close friends and family members will know about it, too. If that's enough for you, feel free to skip the gushing about your new relationship on social media. Because you already know that your relationship is peak #goals — you don't need any "likes" to validate it.
Rehashing Old Relationships
I can't count how many times I've read that talking about your ex is a significant — and perhaps even necessary — step to take with your boo. And while it's always a good idea to be as open and honest as possible with your partner, I'm here to tell you that experts say you're in no way obligated to rehash your past if you're not comfortable with it. There are plenty of other ways to build intimacy together and gain a deeper understanding of each other that don't involve bringing up potentially painful memories.
"Allowing someone to share in their own time will help them have a sense of safety and control over an aspect of their past that likely causes feelings of sadness and uncertainty," says licensed clinical social worker Melanie Shapiro.
So, anytime your ex comes up in conversation and you'd rather not go there, you can let your partner know that you're trying to focus on your future rather than your past. Be sure to respect their boundaries in this way, too, which means never pressing them to talk about a former SO. And while you're at it, resist the temptation to stalk their ex on social media to gather info on your own. Hopefully, they'll open up when they're emotionally ready.
Having A Formal Wedding
The relationship you have with your partner is 100% unique — there's no other one like it in the world. How cool is that? And since that's the case, why on earth should you have to plan a wedding like anyone else? If the idea of having a formal ceremony and reception just doesn't sit well with you for whatever reason, you can definitely ditch it altogether — or pick and choose which traditions to include.
Maybe you and your SO would prefer to run down to city hall or elope to Vegas (a la Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas) and do the darn thing, with just the two of you. Maybe you'd rather put your money toward an extravagant honeymoon than throwing a wedding. Regardless of your preferred course of action, keep in mind that there are so many different ways to celebrate your nuptials that don't involve formal vows, toasts, and speeches said in front of dozens of guests. And as an added bonus, since traditional weddings can get super expensive, these alternatives may help you to stay within your budget (and out of debt).
Melanie Shapiro, licensed clinical social worker