Your first talk till dawn.
Astronomers say it takes just over eight minutes for light from the sun to reach the earth. And that's about how long it feels you've been talking, though it's been over eight hours. "My God, look at the time!" you both say, cursing the violet sky. But it's a good sign if all you want to do is talk for a few million more trips into space and back.
The first kiss.
We know: Duh. But how could we not mention that Big Red moment? It's like no other feeling in the world.
When he introduces you as "my girlfriend".
It's so utterly high school that the title still straightens your spine. But how can it not? You're now officially pinned, picked, branded, wanted.
The first morning after.
Some guys you wouldn't share a beet salad with, let alone a whole night. "You want coffee?" he asks the next morning, tossing the duvet your way as he pads to the kitchen. Please, he's saying by the ease of his actions, stay.
Finding the nerve to say "I love you".
Jessica Simpson seems content to do so through national magazines. For the rest of us, though, the moment is fraught with anxiety: What if he stares at us blankly? What if we're saying it too soon, and…Sorry, what was that? You do? Oh, thank God.
The first time you write "we" in an e-mail to your friends.
And they don't write back, "We? Who the hell is we?"
The first time you fight and make up.
Let's be honest: If you never fight, someone's not speaking up. Consider it like an oil change: a healthy way to clean out gunk so you can get back to the joy ride.
That first trip together.
What better way to gauge how you'll fare on your journey through life than to see how you survive hours of snaking security lines? It's also when you establish who'll get the window seat for the duration of your relationship—so act fast, woman.
The first time you grocery shop together.
You know how his lips taste after a workout and a cold beer. You know to give him five minutes alone when he shakes his head in a "work sucked" kind of way. But to watch this man slip a family-size Fruit Loops into the basket with a dopey grin on his face—that's when you realize you still have worlds to learn about each other.
The first time he lets you control his car/remote/iPod.
Seriously, you don't know how hard it is for him to hand over something he worships so much. Not as much as he worships you, of course, but close. Scary close.
The moment you see a future with him.
Some women could imagine having a future with the guys in a J. Crew catalog. But with the man you love, the future you see is sure-footed and sane: A foot rub after a long day. A laundry basket and a loving squeeze (though if he's folding, you really are dreaming).
When you notice you are no longer primping for him.
Whoops! You're sitting on the couch in your time-of-the-month undies. Yet he's looking at you more lovingly than when you're all gussied up. Clearly, my dear, this is the real deal.
Going to the doctor together for the first time.
Need reason number 652 to stay fit? Have a long sit in a waiting room for someone you love. You'll vow never to have to be there for something worse, because now you need to be healthy for each other.
When you care for something together.
It doesn't really matter if it's a tomato garden or Rufus the drooling French bulldog. But when you're both responsible for taking care of another living thing, your pairing becomes much more important. Be proud as you watch it grow.
When you commit—we're talking long-term commit—to each other.
On the one hand, it feels a bit like picking partners in the schoolyard. ("You want me on your team? Really? Me too!") On the other, it's a watershed moment, when you find yourself so profoundly lucky that someone you adore so much feels exactly the same way about you.