The One Year Relationship Checklist

By Sparklle Rainne (They/Them)|Updated April 28, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Audrey Kelly, LMFT

In our society, it is customary to celebrate all of our major relationship milestones in the form of recognized anniversaries, but the way that we do so depends entirely upon the person who is celebrating and what they celebrate as a milestone. Some celebrate monthly, some celebrate halfway through the year, and some may celebrate only every year, which becomes the typical method that couples use when they have been in the relationship for a while.

Passing twelve months forms a kind of dividing the line in a romance between those who are still in the early stages of their relationship and those who may have found someone with whom they can carry on long after this first year. Although these distinctions are arbitrary and not always meaningful, something lasting less than a week can be called a fling, while seeing someone for more than a month can be described as a relationship if that’s how you both agree to define it. After several months, things may start to look serious, but the one-year mark can feel particularly celebratory.

On the other hand, this moment also provides an opportunity to reassess your level of rapport and happiness and take steps to repair what might be displeasing either of you so that you can prepare to go into the next year even stronger. The following list of questions is not complete, nor will every question apply to every couple, but here are some things you can think about and take in at the one-year mark to set yourself up for success.

Are You Dedicated To Keeping Things Fun?     

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This first point is less about, “is this already happening in your relationship?” and is more about preparing for the future. One of the things that helps to keep a relationship going steady once you reach the status of a long-term relationship is to avoid slipping into the mundane; you want to keep things fun. Now that you’ve hit your one year and have surpassed a honeymoon stage, check in with yourself and make sure that, as you progress in your bond further, you are still going on dates, sharing words of affection with each other, and that you continue to try new things. You don’t have to create worry that’s not there. Instead, it’s about putting in the same effort you always have.

How Do You Feel About Your Relationship With Yourself?

Do you feel like you’re your most authentic self around your partner? Do you feel as though you have the alone time you need? Does the relationship feel healthily interdependent, caring for each other but also providing you the space to be your own person and to learn and advance as an individual? Do you have a strong sense of self and feel that you are your own person, with a partner who respects that, and you, fully? If you answered “yes,” it’s a good sign. If not, it might be helpful for both of you to start implementing some me-time into your life. Continue to view and support one another as unique individuals that you’re excited to learn about and be around.

Are You On The Same Page With Jokes?

Some couples like to push each other’s buttons from time to time, but there’s a time and a place for this. If one makes fun of the other around people about personally sensitive issues or in a disrespectful tone, chances are pretty good that you don’t see each other as affectionately as you should. Teasing may seem like an insignificant thing, but it’s also sometimes used to mask feelings of contempt, and it can also become rather disruptive if the feelings hidden underneath are not evaluated and discussed. Everybody who’s been together for a while argues from time to time, but if there are hidden tensions that tend to pop up in this way, it might be time to explore them through professional counseling if you both want a future together.

Does Your Face Light Up When You See Them?

On a basic biological level and not in any way under our conscious control, our bodies give off certain physical signals whenever we lay eyes on someone we love. Our pupils dilate slightly, and some people’s voices will tend to become slightly higher in pitch, as this is a possible indicator of excitement. Although these types of cues may become slightly less pronounced when you are in a relationship and have become used to being around someone, there should still be hints of joy and excitement when you see the person who you are in a relationship with.

Ask yourself, “Is my significant other still showing these signs? Am I showing these signs? Is it still clear that we both desire and love each other?” Perhaps, you see more negative cues in your relationship than positive ones, and this may be an indicator that things may not be as great as initially thought - or it could indicate that you simply need support in the relationship. Remember, none of these things are to say, “You should break up unless everything’s perfect.” It’s about setting yourself up for success at that one-year relationship mark when you’ve got something you know you don’t want to lose.

No couple must have a passionate, Hollywood-style greeting every single time they meet, but if you’re usually not happy when they walk through the door, something is certainly wrong. However, there are still ways to reestablish this sense of attraction and wonder. You will just have to put in the work and effort of becoming intimate with your partner and showing affection for them once again.

How Do Your Fights Start?

Relationship experts have identified something called “flooding,” where one partner’s negative response to disagreement is so abrupt and overpowering that the other simply can’t respond in any meaningful way. You feel overwhelmed. This is only one possible conflict and communication-related concern that could affect a relationship. It is important to evaluate your communication methods and the severity and number of your fights. Are you consistently fighting with your partner, or are you only arguing when there is something that you are having trouble with? Do these fights start with a minor disagreement but then evolve into something that allows you to remedy the situation or do you have screaming matches that just turn into more resentment and anger that is used in later fights?

 Conflict can be stressful; if you don’t feel like you’re navigating it as well as you could, there are ways to work past it if you and your partner would like to keep the relationship going. Communication is a must in a healthy relationship, and if you plan on going for another year or longer, you need to learn how to communicate properly and effectively.

Do You Both See It Only As a Relationship That May End Soon, Or Are You Planning For The Long Run?

Commitment to a partner is the defining feature of a long-term relationship, whether this takes the form of moving in together, agreeing not to see other people, or making other plans. Unfortunately, it sometimes happens that one person wants to take things to the next level while the other is perfectly comfortable with the relationship as it is. This can pose a real challenge when it comes to sharing things like finances, or if one of you is confronted with a major life change.

To put it frankly, a relationship in which one envisions no future is one that you shouldn’t be engaged in. If one partner doesn’t truly wish to be there or doesn’t see it going on much farther, the relationship may not end today, but it will end eventually, and it is important for both you and your partner to be realistic and honest with each other. If someone feels like this, make sure to peacefully break off the relationship and move on with your lives and find someone who does want to be with you for a long time or vice versa.

However, if you don’t see your relationship ending any time soon, it is important to start planning regardless of how serious you may be in the present. The truth is that life comes with a wide variety of challenges and obstacles that many new couples may not anticipate when they first start seeing each other. For example, disagreements related to finances, religion, and family are all things that you could potentially see as an issue in the future, and without the proper preparation, these things may end up proving to be the end of your relationship. Make sure to properly plan for the future that you envision together and brush up using a wide variety of relationship-building tools and resources that will teach you resilience and the proper skills to cope with any major subject as a couple.

Do Your Good Memories Together Outweigh The Bad?

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However you slice it, the past performance of a person or relationship remains the best way to predict how it will look in the future, and these issues will often contribute to issues down the road if they are not taken care of now. When life threw you curveballs, did you support each other? Can you say that you make each other happy consistently? If the answer to questions like these is “no,” it may very well be time to think carefully about where you’re currently heading and whether it is possible to change course. You must ask yourself honestly, “Can I see a future with this person given all of the things that we have gone through?” If you can’t, you must be honest with yourself. This might mean that you put in equal effort to build a stronger partnership, or it could be that you decide it’s most beneficial to call it off.

What To Do If You Need Help

A relationship of one year is still relatively new. Many people find that counseling or therapy helps them build a strong foundation of understanding, trust, and fondness in their romantic bonds. Whether you have a specific concern to address, want to talk to a therapist one on one, or if you and your partner just want to set yourself up for success and address things before potential issues arise in the first place, one of the experienced providers at ReGain can help. Just take our short questionnaire, and you’ll get matched with a licensed therapist or counselor in as quickly as a few hours or a few days. Regardless of if you choose to pursue therapy online or face-to-face with a provider local to you, don’t hesitate to connect with a professional who can give you the support you need.

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