One-year anniversaries are cool and everything but there are a lot of significant relationship milestones that go unnoticed, like when you start leaving stuff at his house. That's the day you stop pretending everything you need for an overnight stay actually fits in your tiny clutch. LOL, if only. That's the day you unleash the real you on his medicine cabinet, tampons and all. It's a momentous occasion, OK.
Unlike an anniversary though, this milestone has less to do with how long you've been dating. According to Laurel House, dating coach and resident sex expert for My First Blush, "Every relationship progresses at its own speed and time generally has little to do with it. Some daters see each other once per week with infrequent talking or texting in between, and this can carry on for weeks, months, and even years. Others see each other several times per week and are in regular contact almost immediately."
There's no right or wrong way to do this, just whatever works for you and your partner. Consequently, House says, "When you should start leaving things at your partner's place has everything to do with your comfort level and your combined dating purpose." There are three ways you can tell if you and your partner are on the same page.
When You're Dating Exclusively
Mike Goldstein, founder of EZ Dating Coach, says this is one of the easiest ways to tell if it's OK to start leaving things at your partner's place. Doing so before you're exclusive means you run the risk of having to awkwardly retrieve them in the event that your partner starts dating someone else or having to part with them for good. Goldstein says, "You don't want to have to go pick up your favorite sweatshirt from your booty call because they call things off with you when they find someone else or because they simply aren't interested anymore."
The truth is, this isn't just a bad look for you. If your partner is seeing other people, they won't want to have someone else's things lying around their apartment. It sends the message to their other partners that they're engaged in a much more serious relationship with someone else, which can cause unnecessary conflict.
When You've Talked To Your Partner About Leaving Stuff At Their Place
This is more important than waiting until you've hit any time-based relationship milestone. "This conversation doesn't have to be scary or emotional," House says. It's actually quite simple. House advises, "Talk to your partner about how often you stay the night and why you would like to leave a couple things behind so that you don't have to remember to bring them or so that you won't be forced to leave once you realize that you've forgotten something important."
You're not trying to move in here. You'd just like to make your overnight stays a bit more comfortable, which is totally fair. "If they care about you, they'll want you to feel comfortable so talk about it," she says.
The reason you probably haven't brought this up yet is because you're afraid of what your partner will say but House explains that there are two possible outcomes of this discussion.
Who knows? "They might surprise you and empty out a drawer for you in the bedroom or a shelf in the bathroom. They may have even been completely oblivious to the fact that you have been lugging your nighttime necessities around with you every time you have a date, just in case you stay over." Of course, this is the best-case scenario.
House says, "If they're uncomfortable with it, you can talk about that, too. Is it because they're dating other people? Or maybe they feel like you leaving stuff over is the first step to moving in together, which they find intimidating." Either way, it's probably a good thing you're having an open discussion about it.
When You've Been Spending A Lot Of Time Over At Their Place
Even if you and your partner aren't interested in defining the relationship, you can still feel comfortable leaving things at their place. House says you'll know if this is the case if "you dive into intimate conversations early on, you get to know each other on a deeper level, or you feel at home in their place." Sometimes, it's nice to have someone you can turn to for sex, emotional comfort, and temporary toothbrush storage.
If your partner has agreed to let you leave stuff at their place but you still have reservations about it, House has come up with a genius strategy. "At least for a while, leave only small amounts of your second-tier items," she says. "What are these?" you ask. Well, they're basically the items you reach for when you've run out of your favorites or laundry day hasn't come around yet.
"Leave your backup sweats (to avoid having to walk home the next morning still dressed like you're going to the club), that mascara that wasn't as good as the commercial promised, the travel-sized facial wash you use for weekend trips, and the pair of flip flops you used to love before you replaced them."
The point is, she says, "Everything that you bring, you should feel comfortable leaving for good, just in case." Basically, you want to abide by the scout motto, "Always be prepared." Be prepared to stay over without the privilege of leaving stuff at their place. Be prepared to have an honest discussion about it when you're ready to step things up a bit. And be prepared to part with whatever you leave over there if things end badly.