As life hurtles into the 21st century and a new decade, we thought it was about time we started to revamp the way we think about relationships. Though our parents might have courted and made things official by tying the knot, new technology and evolving attitudes of how we look at relationships have meant that the past’s relationship milestones need to be updated. From that first match all the way up to that Facebook official status, here’s the rundown on romance 2021 style.

The first spark

modern relationship tips

So you’ve matched on a dating app. Great! At this stage, everything is super casual, and there’s no real commitment yet. It’s the perfect time to work out what you’re looking for – whether it’s a hookup situation or something with more longevity, there’s someone out there for you. At this point in time, don’t take things too seriously. Try as much as you can to have fun with it! Remember, after such a long period of lockdown, it’s likely that some of us have forgotten how to flirt and have lost some of our mojo. This is the ideal time to start *feeling* yourself again emotionally. Dating is as much for you as it is for the other person.

‘Speaking to’ someone

Ah, speaking with someone. That difficult and tricky time where you’re talking a lot online, but you’ve not actually met yet. This has been the long and rather stagnant reality for a lot of relationships over the pandemic, as restrictions have made it trickier for people to meet face to face. For a while, this stage is sweet and nice; you get a little smile whenever their name pops up on your phone, but things don’t feel like they’re there yet. If you didn’t meet online, which, let’s be honest, you probably did, this is a bit of a strange territory. Are you exclusive? Are there strings attached? Lots of questions that need answering. It’s important when you’re in this stage to gauge what you’re both looking for in a potential relationship and making sure you’re on the same page about things. It’s not the easiest stage to have to be in, but it’s essential in order to move forwards together.

We’re dating, but it’s not serious. We’re not ‘together’ together

modern relationships
Source: The Independent

You’ve gone out a few times together, maybe you’ve met one or two of their mates, and you’ve certainly seen the inside of each other’s flats. This is a fun phase, things are likely quite sweet, and you’re still learning a lot about each other. You have put a cheeky emoji on their contact name and start to have a few inside jokes together, but things are all very new. Perhaps you’re hesitant to put a label on things, or maybe you’re seeing where things are going but you’re not in boyfriend/girlfriend territory… yet.

The first Instagram post

You don’t even have to be in the picture together, but this is the first time you’ve shared a photo of them AND tagged them too. Captions like ‘this one’ often come to mind when thinking about this level. All your friends probably know you’re together by this point, but you’ve yet to say it properly. It’s unlikely anyone has dropped the L bomb either, but the assumption is very much there. Perhaps in close circles you call them your boyfriend or girlfriend, but anything super serious is still off the cards. If you have told your parents, they probably haven’t met your beau yet. If you haven’t till now, it’s around the time you might want to mention it.

Facebook (not) Official

modern relationship milestones
Source: Chastity Project

In reality, being Facebook official isn’t really a thing these days. That being said, there are a couple developments you might see! You’re probably tagging each other in shitposts, and memes and chances are you’ve added a couple of their mates and vice versa. On Messenger, which, to be honest is all we use Facebook for now anyway, you might both be in a group chat together with friends. You’re also probably calling each other boyfriend or girlfriend by now. You’ve not got plans long term, but you’re enjoying where you are right now, which likely is in their company most nights of the week; either they’ll come to yours, or you’ll go with them. In terms of things happening offline, it’s pretty likely you’ve taken each other to a more ‘serious’ event, perhaps as a plus one to a uni ball or society night. To outsiders looking in, it’s fairly clear you’re a thing.

The first trip ‘home’ home

meeting the parents
Source: Hello Giggles

It’s the holidays, and you’re making plans to go home from uni. Your folks know about your partner, but this will be the first time they have met properly. It’s a nerve-wracking time, so you’re best doing it at a time like Christmas where everyone is likely to be in good moods. If you’re headed to their parents, make sure not to come empty-handed. Even something as small as a box of chocolates will set a good impression, which, if you’re as serious as you are, will be something you’ll be after. Make sure to just be yourself, and you’re sure to have a great time.

Basically living together

modern relationships
Source: Cosmopolitan

You’ve not quite moved in together, but you’re there enough that you could be living together. You’ve probably got a chunk of the wardrobe and bathroom space, and you’re basically flatmates with his flatmates. Things by now are pretty serious, you might have had your first holiday and have had chats about plans for the future. It’s likely you’re the parents of the friend group, and everyone around you calls you #couplegoals. This is a great place to be because you’re really comfortable in each other’s company. Without wanting to jinx things, they feel like your person, and you can see a future starting to take shape.