The Brutally Honest Stages Of Falling In Love, According To A Millennial

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If dating and falling in love feels insanely complicated and damn near impossible, that’s because... it is. I don't think it’s ever been easy, but the sheer number of romantic options we have available at the swipe of a finger has made finding someone both incredibly effortless and almost impossibly hard. Like, your grandma never had to worry about unsolicited d*ck pics or getting ghosted on the regular! The only thing keeping hope alive is the fact that, every so often, love-lightning strikes and you find yourself going through all the awkward but exciting millennial stages of falling in love. Because yes, even the way this generation falls in love is different and more complicated than those that came before it.

Part of what makes modern love so complex is that you may be falling for multiple people at the same time. Part of dating now includes juggling multiple potential partners until they fade away or one breaks out from the pack. But also, because we're still in the midst of rewriting the rules of romance, this also means there's a new normal when it comes to falling in love, and girl, it's complicated. Tell me if the following stages of falling in love sound familiar. (Spoiler alert: They probably will.)

Stage One: The “Meet” Cute

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The first step to falling in love may actually be the hardest: meeting someone you actually like. Odds are, they're someone you swiped right on, but also possibly a friend of a friend. They don't immediately ask for nudes or get drunk and grabby. Plus, they make you laugh. You're off to a great start!

Stage Two: Internet Due Diligence

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When you meet someone cute who isn't immediately horrible, it’s safe to move on to phase two: internet research. Note that I said “research” and not “stalking,” because you're doing this all in the name of science! Ahem. Anyway, it’s time to comb through their various profiles and look for red flags like girlfriends, wives, ex-girlfriends, sexist or racist memes, bad taste in music — you get the picture. Basically, this is your first foray into finding out how compatible you may be and if there is a lot of competition for their affection.

Stage Three: Texting, Texting, And More Texting

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Once you’ve properly screened them online, it’s time to lean in to the texting. How is their emoji game? Do they dry text or can you tell they're spending some time crafting the perfect message? This is the first real test of your chemistry and whether or not your personalities match. Plus, who doesn’t love that thrill you get when there's a new message from your crush?

Stage Four: The First “Date”

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OK, you texted until your thumbs fell off, so it’s time to actually see each other face-to-face. Maybe you’ve planned a quick drink or cup of coffee, with the potential of it turning into a whole night together depending on how well it goes. Or maybe you’re keeping things casual and just meeting up in a group. Nothing quite like having a whole audience for your first real quality time together.

Stage Five: Talking

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The hang-out went well so you keep texting… and maybe sexting… and probably hooking up. That sexual chemistry is popping, but you’re not sure if the relationship is going anywhere. You’re playing it cool, but you've secretly, officially, caught a serious case of the feels.

Stage Six: Talking (About Them Constantly)

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You’ve been talking for a while and all that "playing it cool" with them is bubbling over to your friends, family, strangers on the street… basically anyone in earshot who will stand still long enough for you to extol the virtues of your hookup buddy to. Yes, you’re driving everyone crazy, but you can’t help yourself. Just remember to return the favor when your audience has their turn in this phase.

Stage Seven: The Weird Grey Area

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You’re still talking, but it’s been going on for a while and you’re spending more time together regularly. You aren’t a couple, but there is definitely something more than just a casual hookup here. You don’t want to push things because the other person might get spooked, so you play it cool but watch for any signs that prove either of you wants to define the relationship (DTR).

Stage Eight: Getting Annoyed By The Weird Grey Area

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OK, now this is starting to get annoying. You’re talking and hanging out all the time. You’re hooking up and you’ve ditched everyone else you may have been talking to, but you haven’t had the DTR conversation. You don’t want be needy or scare them off, but this is just getting ridiculous!

Stage Nine: Making It Official

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Oh my god, someone finally broke down and expressed their feelings! You have a conversation about what you both want, realize you're on the same page, and delete your dating profiles. You're finally a couple! And not only in real life, but online too. Pictures are being posted and relationship statuses are changing. It’s all happening!

Stage Ten: Honeymoon Bliss

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Congratulations, you made it! You beat the odds and fell for someone who felt the same way about you. This is an exciting time for the two of you to connect (multiple times per day, if you know what I’m sayin’). This is the time where you introduce them to your parents, you meet theirs, and they become your go-to person for just about everything. You’re undoubtedly blissed out, which is amazing! Just maybe try your very best to not make all your friends feel like outliers. Not a cute look!

Falling in love can be so simultaneously nerve-wracking and exciting. It is one of the scariest and most amazing feelings you'll probably ever feel. Embrace it, and remember to be present in every moment. Falling for someone is supposed to be fun. Don't forget that!

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