How do you count how long you’ve been with someone?

In modern dating, even simple things like figuring out how long you’ve been with someone are a bit more muddied. Maybe it’s generational thing, maybe it has to do with how people meet, or maybe it has more to do with how people ask about these things.

Asking “So, when did you meet?” isn’t the same as “how long have you been together?”, so maybe that’s part of it. All I know is that I’ve asked people how they count how long they’ve been with someone, and get a different answer based on their interpretation of the question.

Here are the most common answers I’ve gotten:

When you met

I’m using “met” broadly here, because there is a chance that how you “met” whoever you’re seeing is different from how people might meet a generation ago. Meeting on a dating app a before you met in person is something that might be common among 20 and 30 somethings, but 20 or 30 years ago, it just wasn’t possible. That said, I still think this is a valid way to measure how long you’ve been with someone. Sure, generations ago they didn’t have swiping apps, but they did have personals. There are probably people you know, right now, whose great grandparents met via personal ad and started a correspondence.


Your first date

Simple and probably the easiest to remember. If nothing else, the odds are good that this day doesn’t fall on a major holiday or either of your birthdays, so that’s good at least. Sharing an anniversary with a major milestone date might be a bit weird. It’s not impossible to go on a first date on any of these days, just unlikely. There is a certain romantic surety that’s implied with this date, and I think it’s sweet. To say that you knew from your very first date that you wanted to be with someone is saying a lot.

When you became official

Maybe the most logical of answers. You’ve been together since you first officially were together. A clean-cut and safe answer. I think this might be the most traditional answer as well.

One thing to keep in mind is how time and changes in marital status might change your answer. “We met in January of 2017” is all fine and dandy when you’re early on in your relationship, but I’m sure that by 5 years in or 10 years in, you’ll be telling people the year you met. If you do get married, you’re likely to have, at the very least, a concrete date to give people, and a vague time period before then like “Oh we got married March 5th, 5 years ago. We’d been together for 2 years before that”.

Personally, I’m a big fan of going by the date of the first date. I feel like when you first “met”, offline or online, is a little too loose for me. Plus, given how most people’s messaging habits, they also “met” a few other people who same day. If you went on a really good first date, that’s something that’s unique to both of you. Maybe you won’t remember the exact date on the calendar, or day of the week, but you will remember what it was about them that made you want a second date. I think that going by your “official” date is a bit too cynical for my tastes. Most people know that they want to be with you well before that date, and although it’s a date you might be able to easily remember, it just seems so unromantic. Unless you made a big deal out of saying “do you want to be my partner?”,  in which case maybe it was romantic.

Those are just my preferences though. What you decide is valid too. Maybe it’s something else entirely, like when you first said “I love you” to each other, or the first time you kissed, or the first time you had sex. All valid options in my opinion.

So, what do you think?

How do you count how long you’ve been with someone?

Good Luck Out There.

Also published on Medium.

2 Replies to “How do you count how long you’ve been with someone?”

  1. I agree with you! This is a question I’ve been asked a lot lately…and it is funny to answer because I actually met my fella in December, but didn’t see him again until April! But I gotta say, it’s kinda nice to have 2 answers to “When’d you meet”? to use at will depending on how judgey you think the asker will be! 😛

  2. I’m dating someone now and we ‘met’ (not in person) on 5/8 and talked a ton, but didn’t meet in person until 5/15 or something. I’m not sure which “counts” as we essentially started talking and started the dating/courting process on Day 1, but I think the 15th makes more sense. SOME people start counting the first day you establish yourself as a legit couple, but, meh.