#1 You feel the spark. You meet and just a few minutes of good-natured banter later you already know that there’s a spark about this one. They’re… different. You feel… different. All eyes and smiles, you exchange numbers. Then you part company and immediately worry whether they will actually call. They call!!!!! You feel about 17 again.
#2 You’re properly smitten. Even better, so are they. When you’re together, you have so much to discover about one another: careers, childhoods, relationship history, life ambitions, funny stories. When you’re apart, you’re constantly messaging to let the other one know you’re missing them and counting the hours until seeing them again. You’re in your own little world which, frankly, is just as well because when you venture into anyone else’s world in your severely smitten state you make them feel slightly nauseous.
#3 You have ‘the chat’. You know, the awkward one about whether you now consider one another to be boyfriend and girlfriend, neither of you being so daring as to presume. But… sound the trumpets… it’s hereby agreed that you do take one another as boyfriend and girlfriend. You both marvel at your good fortune in meeting one another and laugh at the thought of ever arguing. What on earth could you two ever find to argue about?
#4 You enter Phase Two. Lovely as the Land-of-the-Smitten is, no one can reside there forever. There are careers to get back to, friends and family to see, gym memberships that are being paid for but not used, along with everyday household chores to be caught up on. You need more sleep. You have less sex. The constant stream of texts and emails reduces to the occasional few per day. Your old routine starts to slowly reappear, only now it has a lovely warm Ready Brek glow to it.
#5 You drop the ‘L’ word. It’s been on your mind and on the tip of your tongue for a while now, so it’s a relief to finally get it out there. You love them. They love you. Secretly, you still can’t quite believe your luck to have landed someone so totally out of your league but you’re certainly not going to be the one to draw anyone’s attention to it. You’re loved up, not stupid.
#6 Your true personalities begin to surface. The longer you’re together, the more your true personalities surface – the good, the bad and the downright annoying. Slowly it dawns on you both that what you’d assumed to be a one-off nuisance (last minute notice of a prior engagement, running late, talking over the best bit of a TV programme, an unusually short fuse) is actually a deeply engrained characteristic (a complete and utter lack of personal organisation, poor timekeeping, talking incessantly or turning into a PMT monster one day a month). You both think back to those early days when you couldn’t imagine what you could ever argue about and again you laugh – this time, for a completely different reason.
#7 You have your first BIG row. As in, a proper heated and shouty row, quite possibly with a very un-adultlike sulky stand-off thereafter. The first to calm down is the first to make the peace offering, the other secretly relieved to see an end to the hostilities. You have weathered your first storm together with neither of you walking away at the first opportunity. There will be more rows to come, more peace offerings to be made, but you are officially in this for the long haul.
#8 You enter into what will be long and protracted negotiations. What you can change about yourself and what realistically you can’t or don’t want to. What you need the other one to change and what realistically you can’t or don’t expect them to. From time to time you’ll each lapse and revert to type, but points are given for effort.
#9 You book your first holiday together – always a bit of a gamble to book anything so costly too far in advance lest everything come crashing down around your ears before your departure date, therefore a sure-fire sign of your commitment to one another. Once on holiday, with none of the day to day mundane stuff to eat into your time, energy and thoughts, you remember what it feels like to be just the two of you.
#10 You become a ‘we’. For months your automatic response when asked by others how long you’ve been seeing one another has been to play the whole thing down with a low-key, “Oh it’s early days.” Until one day, someone probes a bit further and you do the maths. It’s been… crikey… over a year and a half… hmmm… I guess that makes us a ‘we’.
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