The One Year Relationship Checklist

By Sparklle Rainne (They/Them)|Updated June 22, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Audrey Kelly, LMFT
“Making it to a year with your partner is an accomplishment worth affirming. It can also be a great time to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses that your relationship may have and work towards being the best partners possible for each other.” - Ryan Smith, LPC, NCC

In our society, it is customary to celebrate all of our major relationship milestones, 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. However, we are going to talk about what it means when a relationship has managed to make it through a year and what this means for the couple involved.

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 that they can carry on with 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. After several months, things start to look serious, but once you reach the one-year mark in your relationship, there may well be the promise of much longer on the horizon. 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 and prepare to go into the next year even stronger. The following list of questions is not complete, nor all that scientific, but are certainly worth thinking about once you reach the 12-month watershed.

Can You Tease Each Other Without Someone Getting Angry?

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Most couples like to push each other's buttons from time to time, but there are a time and place for this, and there are other factors that help to distinguish whether someone is simply joking with their partner or if they are bordering on mean, angry, or abusive. It also indicates whether someone who is taking playful banter the wrong way may have underlying issues that could affect the relationship down the road.

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 aggressive 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.

Additionally, while it is important to look at the person who is doing the teasing, it is important to look at relationships where one individual is teasing playfully, but the other person takes everything too personally and reacts harshly to a fun banter. If your partner is someone who tends to react in this way, it could indicate that there are underlying problems in the relationship that are making this person defensive or could show that the person has insecurities that are leaking into the relationship. Either way, it can be helpful to seek help for these problems as well.

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 women's voices will tend to become slightly higher in pitch, with their lips becoming a tiny bit redder while men will display other actions such as lowering their voice and making their muscles appear bigger to attract the people that they like. 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 that 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 are 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. 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. (If both partners can still experience that attraction, that is.) 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 counselors 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. This negativity may take the form of personal criticisms, sarcasm or aggressive self-justification, but if arguments frequently start on this note, you have serious communication problems to overcome. The good news in this regard is that arguments that gradually get heated as they progress don't fall into this category, and may be a sign of a strong interpersonal bond.

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 guys are having trouble dealing 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? If your relationship falls in the former category, this is good news as it is likely you have a healthy relationship. The second category can be concerning, but there are still ways to work past 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 or agreeing not to see other people. Unfortunately, it often 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, finances, religion, and family are all things that you could potentially see as an issue with 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 issue 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 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? Did your partner ever do anything that hurt you either intentionally or unintentionally? 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 and break up the relationship to avoid the pain that comes with doing it late on and before any more damage can be done.

What To Do If You Need Help

Because this one-year relationship is relatively new, you may not have an idea as to where to begin to make sure that you can get through this checklist properly and prepare yourself for life ahead. If you are having trouble and need help beyond the resources that you can find online, you can always contact a counselor on ReGain. ReGain counselors are certified online counselors who will be able to help you with your relationship questions and issues whenever and wherever due to their online connection and flexibility. If you have reached the one-year mark and plan on a happy future with your significant other, start your future right by reaching out to an online counselor who can help you to secure success.

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