Every relationship starts out different. However, a lot of the aspects of a relationship are the same for a majority of couples. The stages each couple goes through during their first year of dating can vary, but here's what I learned when my boyfriend and I were official for a year.
1. The honeymoon stage
This stage is pretty much the same for everyone. You meet your person and all of a sudden, they're the only person you can't get off your mind. You're all warm and gooey inside because the two of you are establishing your feelings for each other. It's a period where you feel enthusiastic and eager to explore all the different attributes of each other. The honeymoon stage is where a lot of PDA takes place - from holding hands everywhere, exchanging kisses and basically being all lovey-dovey 24/7.
2. The "meeting the family and friends" stage
After the two of you are serious about being together, you start introducing one another to the people who are important in your life. This stage can be nerve-wracking to say the least, but also exciting. You get to bring home and show off the person who makes your life better. Every person in a relationship wants their significant other's family and friends to like them; it just makes everything so much easier. Plus, your family and friends can usually spot red flags before you can, and you know they'll have your back if things go south.
3. The "getting used to each other" stage
After the honeymoon stage, the bliss and excitement of dating someone starts to wear off. Usually, this stage starts to happen a few months after you start dating. You start to get used to the idea of having someone around who you can always talk to. You're learning more and more about who they are outside of just being in a relationship. You're figuring out what you like and don't like about this person, and whether or not you should continue dating them. The two of you will start to have some arguments and fights, but it will help you understand more about the person you're dating. I think this stage is a critical part of a relationship because a lot of relationships fail after the honeymoon stage because the two people aren't trying to continually impress each other all the time. This is where you realize how much you like this person and want to stay together.
4. The "I love you" stage
The first time the two of you say "I love you" to each other will bring back a lot of the honeymoon phase happiness. This stage can happen at any point in the relationship, but most of the time, a person knows whether they love you or not within a few months of the relationship, if not sooner. There's no better feeling in the world than getting that confirmation that your boyfriend/girlfriend feels the same level of affection for you as you do for them.
5. The "I'm comfortable enough to fart around you" stage
When you and your partner get to this stage, you know it's the real deal. It's the ultimate comfortability point. By this point, you two have accepted each other for you who you are that you could care less whether you fart in front of them or not (and if they're not cool with that, it's time to find someone else). This stage will bring you a lot of humor and more understanding of what you two are like together when you are completely yourself.
6. The "we're getting close to a year" stage
Since I just went through this stage with my boyfriend, I know that this stage is a fun one. For the past eleven months, the two of you have learned from each other, grown with each other and know each other better than anyone else. Once you get to this point, you pretty much know this is the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. As you prepare for your anniversary, you remember all the reasons why you started dating them in the first place. It's another reminder of why you choose to put your energy and time into that person. I can honestly say that a one year anniversary is a big deal. So enjoy the moment and remember all the good times that you and your significant other have created together, and will hopefully continue to create for the rest of your lives.
Dating is a hard process, but it will give you more joy and memories with the right person than anything else. It's worth it, I promise.