Cultura/Chev Wilkinson/stockimage/getty imagesBy Ronnie Koenig
First Time You Let One Fly
This usually happens around the one month mark. You and your new guy are lying in bed, candles are lit, you're wearing brand new lingerie, soft music is playing…You look deeply into each other's eyes…and he lets one rip so loudly that you're sure your neighbor 3-floors down can hear it.
You're taken by surprise but you don't really care!
"This milestone reveals your true level of intimacy," says Patti Britton, PhD, clinical sexologist, founder of SexCoachU.com and author of The Art of Sex Coaching . "It means that things have moved from the fantasy of courtship to a real relationship, warts and all. The next time you let your guard down and use a toilet while he's shaving, or he lets out air during breakfast, know that being more open is going to allow you to get closer -- and not just in the bathroom!"
First Time You Introduce Each Other as "Boyfriend" and "Girlfriend"
I'd like you to meet my…friend? partner? compatriot? Up until this point you haven't known exactly what to call each other, but the first time he introduces you as his girlfriend, you know the game has shifted.
"Being labeled as his girlfriend -- or you calling him your boyfriend -- is one way to learn that you are a solid item with your partner," says Britton. "Once you both say those words out loud it makes it real. Having the pride to give what you two have going on a name is another level of intimacy. It's an excellent way to go deeper into the next phase of your love bond."
This usually happens about two months into a relationship and is also around the time when you'll subject him to your besties (and implore them to go easy on the questions!).
First Time You Stop Being So Darn Agreeable
You've been lying through your teeth about giving two craps about hockey for 3 whole months. Then, one day, you let it slip. You hate ice hockey. Hate it. Zambonis are stupid!
Whew. When you start getting real in a relationship it's kind of a relief. Just don't be surprised if he admits that those Food Network recipes don't come out exactly right when you make them.
"Often we tolerate aspects of our relationship or partner because the foundation seems too risky to crack," says Britton. "But once things feel more stable it's time to get real. Being more honest is a step in the right direction of an authentic relationship."
First Time You Attend a Wedding Together
At around the six month mark, many couples have said the "L" word to one another. But an equally important milestone is getting up the guts to ask him to accompany you to a friend's wedding (or going as his date). This is like a coming out party for your relationship -- it announces that you're serious and brings up heavy topics like marriage and forever-ness. Plus, watching people you care about take vows can turn into an emotional moment for the two of you.
"The sheer emotionality of attending a wedding can provoke a deep emotional response," says Britton. "Ceremonies can evoke spiritual connections. Often couples in the dating mode find that it triggers a reaction of 'where does that leave us?' Be aware of the feelings that surface and use them for learning more about your own relationship."
First Time You Meet the Family
Nine months in, expect him to take you for an awkward brunch with his parents. Or, maybe it's to his weird Uncle Joe's annual chili-off. Whatever the event is, the bottom line is that he's introducing you to his people and showing you where he comes from. (And you'll do the same.)
Another part of this milestone is realizing that perhaps not all of his folks are great people, but knowing that's ok and that he's his own person (and so are you).
"Sometimes meeting the family provides feedback about the person you're dating," says Britton. "You may see characteristics about him being expressed you never saw before or those pet peeves you have about him can become magnified in the presence of their origins! How we are with our biological families can speak volumes about how a person really thinks, feels and behaves. Sometimes these visits are the key to unlocking greater love and intimacy. Or they can backfire and send you packing."
First Comfortable Silence
You're in the car, driving along, there's no radio, no conversation, just utter silence. Instead of thinking up a topic for discussion you realize that it's okay to just "be". "You're not concerned with filling up the silences with words to try and prove to yourself that you are connected. You can actually relax and just be with each other…which then allows you to access a whole other layer of intimacy," says Dr. Sadie Allison, founder of TickleKitty.com and author of Tickle My Tush: Mild-to-Wild Analplay Adventures for Everybooty .
The comfortable silence can happen around the one year mark, and it's probably the biggest way a couple knows they are just naturally, effortlessly…together.
"That comfortable silence is significant because it demonstrates that you have security in your relationship," says Allison.
First Time You Face Tragedy Together
When you've been together for over a year, you're bound to face some type of tragedy, such as a death or difficult situation. Any time before this, you might have just sent a bouquet. But now, you've been together long enough to really lean on each other.
"Facing a tragedy as a couple allows you to experience a greater appreciation of what you have together. It allows you to observe how you'll each be there for one another in a profound and compassionate way during hard times," says Allison.
If you make it through each other's expectations, you'll know you can get through almost anything with your partner at your side.
First Time You Realize You're in it for the Long Haul
In the movies, a sparkly engagement ring presented by a nervous man on bended knee is what signifies the seriousness of a relationship. But in real life, it's the smaller moments -- like the day he moves his underwear over to your place or the adoption of a stray cat that you'll care for together -- that says this relationship is for the long-term. This usually happens after a year and a half of dating.
"When you share a moment like this, you're now receiving -- and accepting -- the trueness and longevity of your connection," says Allison. "For some this is the point where one's heart goes from 'dating' mode to 'partnership'."
First Blowout Fight
All couples have fights, even nasty ones that include hurtful words, threats and objects thrown on the front lawn. "It's unrealistic to think you'll never have a blowout fight if you're going to be with someone for a long time. It shows you're in touch with reality, and that you are willing to communicate and listen to each other, and do the work to get through it," says Allison.
But the type of fight that happens at around three years in is usually the kind that calls your entire relationship into question -- and makes the two of you think long and hard as to whether you should put in the effort or call it quits.
"Working through a big blowout fight can show that you both are choosing to stay together and are willing to address any issues that arise," says Allison. This will be a true test.
First Time You Realize He's Your Family
Whether or not you have kids, you suddenly feel like he is "home." The time before the five years you've now been together doesn't seem to exist and all your best memories include him.
"This is the moment you become aware that your guy is someone that you 'chose,'" says Allison. "It's a big step forward when you realize that it's not about the family you were born into or raised with, but about the family you two are creating and have chosen."
More from iVillage.com:
Can You Trust Him When He Says I Love You?
10 No Fail Pick-Up Lines for Women to Meet Men
Dating and Cancer: Are You Ready?