The big relationship moments — like the first date, meeting the parents, moving in together, getting engaged and getting married — seem to get all the attention. Sometimes the smaller (but still significant!) moments don’t nearly get the credit they deserve.
We asked people to reveal the “little” relationship milestones that were actually a big deal to them. Here’s what they said:
1. The first time they cry in front of you.
“My husband is a big guy. I nicknamed him ‘Bear’ because he’s so huge. But he’s also so mushy. When I was first leaving London (we were long-distance at the time), he started crying. It was so beautiful to see a man be so vulnerable with me. He cried basically the whole way to the airport and, from what I hear, the rest of the night. He is such a darling. Crying in front of your partner is a true moment of clarity. It shows you the levels this person feels and emotions they’re capable of.” ― Gigi Engle, sexologist and author of “All the F*cking Mistakes: A Guide to Sex, Love, and Life”
2. The first time you put up an Instagram pic together.
“This one was actually a massive one for me but probably extremely minuscule and even laughable to others. It was when we posted photos together on Instagram (aka #IGofficial). It was a little bigger of a deal for me since the 215,000 people who follow me didn’t even know I was in a relationship and that we had secretly been traveling together for about four months before I posted about it!” — Alyssa Ramos of “My Life’s a Travel Movie”
3. The first time they take you as a date to a work event.
“My husband, Amit, owns a performing arts company (AATMA Performing Arts) and works with kids as well. It was really special when he actually took me to meet all the kids and their parents. It was as if he was making it official that I’m his life partner. Especially being South Asian and identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community, that is a big and courageous move, which proved that we were really in this forever.” ― Aditya Madiraju, blogger
4. The first time you go on a trip together.
“The third date for my now-wife and me was a cruise, which felt like a real make-or-break situation for a new couple. Packing. Flying. Keeping track of passports and documents. Living in a small space together for a week. A bathroom with very little privacy. It went great, which boded really well for our future together. Four years and many cruises, resorts, flights, drives and hotels later, we are a great pair at home and on the road.” — Jenny Block, author of “Be That Unicorn: Find Your Magic. Live Your Truth. Share Your Shine”
5. The first time they refer to you as ‘Mommy’ or ‘Daddy’ to their pet.
“My wife had a dog when we met. It had been a long time since I had a dog, and I forgot how much I missed having one. I instantly bonded with him and grew so attached to him. So the first time she referred to me as ‘Daddy’ to him instead of ‘Dan’ was huge to me. Up until that point, I wasn’t sure if I won her over yet, but after that day I was 100% sure.” — Dan Regan, comedian
6. The first time you reveal your kinks in the bedroom.
“While for some people it might be silly or weird, it felt really good to tell my partner that I’m submissive. Trying choking and bondage with him was incredibly healing and bonding for us. It’s helped our relationship grow in so many beautiful, sexy ways. He’s super wonderful and adventurous. Being able to explore your sexuality to its fullest in a relationship is pretty dang magical.” —Engle
7. The first time they proudly display your artwork.
“Once we moved in together, my wife hung up my illustrations around our apartment. She didn’t ask to, she just did it. It was such a big deal to me, more than she realizes.
I grew up poor, on and off food stamps and in small, cramped one-bedroom apartments shared with four family members and millions of cockroaches. When I lived with my abusive ex, that space didn’t really feel mine because of how tumultuous the relationship had been; everything felt more like a shared space and less like a home. I never truly had a space of my own.
When I came home one day and saw that she hung up my artwork, it was the first time I ever felt like I fit in anywhere and was truly loved. Something as simple as hanging up a picture told me, ‘You belong here.’” ― Tevy Khou, illustrator
8. The first time you meet each other’s friends.
“Sometimes that little act of meeting each other’s friends is more stressful than meeting each other’s family (especially so in many gay or LGBTQ relationships, where your friends may be your chosen family). That first brunch, that first time out with their group of friends to the karaoke bar — you want to make a good impression, seem relatable, friendly, act engaged, and, of course, you’ve got to make a good impression. Because it’s the friends who just might end up having the biggest impact on what happens in the relationship.” ― Adam Groffman of “Travels of Adam”
9. The first time you collaborate on a project.
“The ‘little’ milestone that comes to mind is when my (now) spouse and I collaborated on our first art project. I can’t remember what it was because we have made a ridiculous amount of art together in the seven years we’ve been a couple, but it was probably a GIF of our cat.
This milestone quickly led us to start an art and animation company together. We call the company YoMeryl as a reference to our first date and the discussion we had that night about how amazing Meryl Streep is and that she could literally be anywhere so it’s best to not shout her name too loudly.” ― Bronwyn Lundberg, artist at YoMeryl
10. The first time they open up to you emotionally.
“When my partner shared deeper parts of himself, it mattered to me because it meant he was opening up and learning to trust me. As a writer, I’m pretty open about a lot of things, and I’ve learned (and am still learning) that everyone is not able to access their feelings so easily, so I always appreciate the unraveling of layers in relationships.” — Renée Cherez, writer
11. The first time they say ‘I love you’ to your dog.
“One milestone was when I caught him saying ‘I love you’ to my little Pomeranian, Oscar, for the first time. The two of them tend to have a like/hate relationship because they both battle for my attention and affection, which my dog always wins, so hearing him say he loves Oscar was a huge milestone for us.” ― Ramos
12. The first time they see you perform on stage.
“Before I met my wife, some women I dated would say, ‘I thought you would be funnier’ (because I’m a comedian). I didn’t think I was supposed to perform while I’m eating jalapeño sliders at Applebees, but OK.
So when I met my wife, I was happy she never questioned my lack of stage performance when we were on a date. When she finally saw me on a stage, I thought this will either enhance our relationship or could be the beginning of the end. Luckily, she liked my set and is now my biggest fan and harshest critic, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. ― Regan
Responses have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.