I was driven to school every day for 12 years before I got my license, but I still managed to get lost when I drove myself for the first time. More recently, I got turned around in the complex West Village (West Village streets are not named after numbers, and the streets curve-totally confusing).
Landmarks provide structure and direction for chronically lost souls like me, and do so in relationships too. It's common to return to the scene of the first date to propose or celebrate an anniversary. Landmarks are sometimes hurdles: they can end a relationship if you can't pass them, or make a relationship stronger if you can pass them.
As I wandered through the West Village, clueless with no GPS on my lame phone, I contemplated relationship landmarks:
First Date - It's hard to find someone sane, that you're attracted to, and that you're compatible with. Think of the percentage of your first dates that have made it to a second round. A lot of screening goes on here, on both sides.
Second Date - The second date is actually an important step. It confirms that things went well on the first date, and there are two interested parties.
First Kiss - The first kiss is important to tell the rest of the story beyond the first few dates. A horrible kisser has the power to destroy, but a great kisser can seal the deal. An amazing first kiss can elevate dating from mundane to magical.
DTR - DTR (Defining the Relationship) is brought on by an event that helps someone realize they want to be exclusive. In the beginning you revel in "seeing other people,"-- free to do whatever you want. If the person you're dating hooks up/flirts with someone else, you realize you can't let them go, and brings on the DTR talk. If you're both on the same page during the talk, this is where you become exclusive.
First Time Going Away Together - The first road trip/vacation has killed many a relationship. Traveling is stressful, tests our ability to work together, and our patience with one another. A friend of mine almost broke up with her boyfriend on a trip to India. Since then, she's learned that he can't handle airports. But that first time she saw this display, she wondered if she'd be able to handle it.
The First "I Love You" - I wish this was more spontaneous, but I find myself wrestling with when to say it and stressing whether someone will say it back. But, when it's sincere and timed correctly it's a beautiful thing.
Meet The Parents - Meeting the parents is a signal of a long term relationship. No one wants to deal with "what ever happened to that great guy/gal that you brought around?" too soon after the meeting. Once you introduce someone to your family, they become a bigger part of you.
Year Anniversary - The year anniversary is a huge mental hurdle, and is symbolic of your relationship lasting through all sorts of tests.
Holidays With The Family -After you've figured out who is going where, holidays with their family is an opportunity to meet extended family, and take
part in family traditions. I love my holidays with my family, so I'm going to have to be in to someone to bring them around for black bottoms, Claymation Rudolph, and cranberry bread in the Santos household.
"Future" Talk - "Future talk" is discussing items such as baby names and favorite foods for cocktail hours. If you're going to weddings, you note the good and bad things about each in a quest to make yours the best. A hot "future" talk topic is discussing where you will settle down together.
Moving In Together (Optional) - Sharing a living space is a huge financial and lifestyle commitment.
Proposal Propaganda - Your friends resemble speculative press, chatting amongst one other, wondering when the he'll propose. The propaganda can be negative: "when is he ever going to propose," or positive: assuming marriage is a foregone conclusion.
Proposal/Marriage - Well, you've found your destination, but you never would have arrived without landmarks to help you along the way.
Second date, these days, is the toughest landmark for me to find. It stands to reason that, as someone who is eternally lost, I am lost in the dating world. I hope to some day find a relationship in which I can find and enjoy the landmarks.
What are your thoughts on the landmarks? Would you add or subtract any? Any particular landmarks that you can't get past, or have any landmark hurdles killed past relationships?