1. The First Time One of You Drives
A car ride together can be many things: a peacock-like display of assets; a show of skill and prowess; a date in itself (if you're 16 or a city dweller with a Zipcar). Whom does he trust to navigate—you, him or that GPS lady? Who do you?
2. The Seconds Following Your First Kiss
When this dalliance flowers into a true-love, toothbrush-sharing situation, that first kiss is going to become the stuff of relationship lore, a creation myth shared with your fascinated/horrified children. Pay attention. You're going to need every detail.
3. The Time He Cooks for You and Fails
4. The Time You Cook for Him and Fail
5. The Parking-Lot Puke of Love
In the beginning, you go out of your way to present the best version of yourself to your potential mate. Bad moods are concealed. Weaknesses avoided. ("Bowling? Oh, no thanks!") So when you punctuate an overly zesty dinner date with throwing up chile rellenos into a parking-lot tree pit, it might be his first chance to see the real, unvarnished, purely-you you. Assuming he doesn't shield his eyes in embarrassed disgust.
6. The First Time You Actually REM-Sleep Together
Sleeping together is one thing. SLEEPING together is another. Here is your future-every-night. So take careful, scientific note of any notable instances of snoring, sleepwalking, larcenous duvet-hoarding and/or drool puddles of unusual size. And then think carefully before accepting that next sleepover-party invitation, or in 10 years you might find yourself sleeping on the sofa wearing earplugs. (And if you're sure he's worth it, take this moment to invest in a really comfy sofa.)
7. When You Meet His Best Friend from Back in the Day...
...and you see a whole new side of him.
8. Attending Your First Wedding as a Couple (Hopefully not Your Own)
Once you've gotten through chicken-or-fish, filibuster-length toasts and doing the YMCA dressed in taffeta with someone, you are essentially war buddies. Well? Would you want to go into buffet-style battle a hundred more times with this guy? If he still seemed charming when your pumps started pinching your feet, it's probably a very good sign.
9. The Moment You're Tempted to Tell a Little White Lie
A white lie is, after all, a lie. What are you really trying to hide?
10. The Talk
At some point, you're going to have to talk about sex. Nobody wants to. But you gotta. And how you talk about it might just inform hundreds of intimate moments down the line, so you both had better be as honest as you can possibly muster. If he's secretly hoping there's a French-maid costume in your shared future, or your interest in 50 Shades of Grey goes beyond writing a book report, and neither of you checks to make sure the other is on board, you're going to end up two not-so-secretly disappointed creatures.
11. Finding the Text from His Ex
The phone vibrates and you automatically pick it up because it looks just like your phone, only what does not look just like your phone is the text that is from Sue—Sue?!—yes, Sue. What matters here is your reaction: Are you shaking, dry-mouthed, certain of betrayal, racing through weeks' worth of texts that are strictly none of your beeswax? Does it make you merely curious to learn more about this man's past? Do you not care at all? Give that feeling as much attention as you do the message itself: It's a whole lot more revealing.
12. Spending the $1,000 You Can't Really Spare
You know what they say: You never forget your first major investment mistake. Maybe it's a bad 401(k) choice or buying a house at the height of the market. Maybe it's just a suddenly scrutinized habit of lending cash to unreliable relatives. Think of this as a mistakortunity! Finances will be discussed. Will they be shared? Or will they remain linked but forever separate, like Lucy and Ricky's twin beds?
13.The First Time Your Baby Doesn't Sleep All Night
Nothing tests a couple's mettle like sleeplessness, that most mundane of all torture devices. You're both raw, and since you've just created an extra human, the stakes are high; but the rewards for reconciliation are oh, so bounteous.
14. When You Run into the One Who Got Away
...and you realize he's just another guy.
Next: Dating deal breakers: 8 signs we all overlook