Huffpost OWN

14 Moments That Can Make Or Break A Relationship

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By Amy Shearn

These are the times when you both show your truest selves. What do you see?

  • 1. The Parking-Lot Puke Of Love
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    In the beginning, you go out of your way to present the best version of yourself to your potential mate. Bad moods are concealed. Weaknesses avoided. ("Bowling? Oh, no thanks!") So when you punctuate an overly zesty dinner date with throwing up chile rellenos into a parking-lot tree pit, it might be his first chance to see the real, unvarnished, purely-you you. Assuming he doesn't shield his eyes in embarrassed disgust.
  • 2. The Seconds Following Your First Kiss
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    When this dalliance flowers into a true-love, toothbrush-sharing situation, that first kiss is going to become the stuff of relationship lore, a creation myth shared with your fascinated/horrified children. Pay attention. You're going to need every detail.
  • 3. The First Time One Of You Drives
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    A car ride together can be many things: a peacock-like display of assets; a show of skill and prowess; a date in itself (if you're 16 or a city dweller with a Zipcar). Whom does he trust to navigate -- you, him or that GPS lady? Who do you?
  • 4. The Time He Cooks For You And Fails
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  • 5. The Time You Cook For Him And Fail
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  • 6. The First Time You Actually REM-Sleep Together
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    Sleeping together is one thing. SLEEPING together is another. Here is your future-every-night. So take careful, scientific note of any notable instances of snoring, sleepwalking, larcenous duvet-hoarding and/or drool puddles of unusual size. And then think carefully before accepting that next sleepover-party invitation, or in 10 years you might find yourself sleeping on the sofa wearing earplugs. (And if you're sure he's worth it, take this moment to invest in a really comfy sofa.)
  • 7. When You Meet His Best Friend From Back In The Day…
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    … and you see a whole new side of him.
  • 8. Attending Your First Wedding As A Couple (Hopefully Not Your Own)
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    Once you've gotten through chicken-or-fish, filibuster-length toasts and doing the YMCA dressed in taffeta with someone, you are essentially war buddies. Well? Would you want to go into buffet-style battle a hundred more times with this guy? If he still seemed charming when your pumps started pinching your feet, it's probably a very good sign.
  • 9. The Moment You're Tempted To Tell A Little White Lie
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    A white lie is, after all, a lie. What are you really trying to hide?
  • 10. The Talk
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    At some point, you're going to have to talk about sex. Nobody wants to. But you gotta. And how you talk about it might just inform hundreds of intimate moments down the line, so you both had better be as honest as you can possibly muster. If he's secretly hoping there's a French-maid costume in your shared future, or your interest in 50 Shades of Grey goes beyond writing a book report, and neither of you checks to make sure the other is on board, you're going to end up two not-so-secretly disappointed creatures.
  • 11. Finding The Text From His Ex
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    The phone vibrates and you automatically pick it up because it looks just like your phone, only what does not look just like your phone is the text that is from Sue -- Sue? Yes, Sue. What matters here is your reaction: Are you shaking, dry-mouthed, certain of betrayal, racing through weeks' worth of texts that are strictly none of your beeswax? Does it make you merely curious to learn more about this man's past? Do you not care at all? Give that feeling as much attention as you do the message itself: It's a whole lot more revealing.
  • 12. Spending The $1,000 You Can't Really Spare
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    You know what they say: You never forget your first major investment mistake. Maybe it's a bad 401(k) choice or buying a house at the height of the market. Maybe it's just a suddenly scrutinized habit of lending cash to unreliable relatives. Think of this as a mistakortunity! Finances will be discussed. Will they be shared? Or will they remain linked but forever separate, like Lucy and Ricky's twin beds?
  • 13. The First Time Your Baby Doesn't Sleep All Night
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    Nothing tests a couple's mettle like sleeplessness, that most mundane of all torture devices. You're both raw, and since you've just created an extra human, the stakes are high; but the rewards for reconciliation are oh, so bounteous.
  • 14. When You Run Into The One Who Got Away
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    … and you realize he's just another guy.

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Related On HuffPost: 8 Habits That Can Sink A Marriage

  • You’re Going Separate Ways (Literally)
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    Your husband works a half hour north, and you travel a half hour south. Your home is precisely midway. Fair, right? Yep, but maritally inauspicious -- that’s what Irene Huang and her colleagues at the Chinese University of Hong Kong found when they studied American couples that commute every day. If, like many couples in the study, you and your partner commute in opposite directions, your marriage may be unhappier than you’d be if you were going in the same direction every day -- even if you don’t leave for work together. What happens in your subconscious, Huang and her colleagues wrote in the study, is that the commute takes on more general goal-related associations. Travel in the same direction, and you feel as if you’re sharing the same goals in life; travel in different directions, and you feel like you’re not.
  • You Eat Burgers At The Wrong Time
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    We all know that creamy-buttery-lardy-cheesy stuff is bad for heart health. But Janice Kiecolt-Glaser and Ronald Glaser, researchers at Ohio State University, think that high-saturated-fat foods may also hurt your relationship. In an ongoing study, they’re asking married couples to eat meals in the lab -- one of the greasy-burger variety; the other, veggie-heavy. Once finished, the couples are encouraged to discuss vein-popping topics: money, in-laws, housework, and how to raise the kids. Based on their previous research, the researchers have a hunch that the participants’ blood samples will show that fatty foods enhance the body’s stress response to marital spats. Eat unhealthily and your argument may spiral out of control more easily -- and you may run a higher risk of cardiac disease, inflammation, and diabetes over time. Any way you look at a fatty diet, it’s bad for your heart. (Stay tuned; the study ends in 2014.)
  • You Were Never The Smiley Type
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    You knew those stiff-faced yearbook photos would come back to haunt you one day. But this finding’s unexpected: Women with “low intensity” smiles in their childhood and college photos are five times likelier to get divorced as adults than those who smiled effusively, found a 2009 study at DePauw University. A bright, wide smile represents an underlying positive disposition and worldview -- undoubtedly helpful in marriage. Lifelong smilers may be the type to seek and sustain lasting relationships, and because smiling is contagious, their partners may be happier too. The good news about smiling: If you want, you can “fake it ‘til you make it.” As we know from the facial feedback theory of emotion, smiling deliberately can make you feel happier, because facial expressions influence emotions.
  • You Don't Have The Marriage-Protector Mechanism
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    Okay, you’d be lying if you said you don’t notice an attractive man when he smiles at you. We all do. And it’s perfectly fine for your married (or boyfriend-ed) self to admit it. But a funny thing happens when you’re truly, deeply committed: you’ll think that guy is less hot once it's clear he's an admirer. In a study led by John Lydon at McGill University, women (and men) who are deeply committed to their partners found an opposite-sex face significantly less alluring when told that the person had singled them out as a potential match. It’s a protective mechanism; they might not even be aware of it. Meanwhile, women who aren’t very committed to their partners are just as attracted to a handsome guy when he comes out as a potential suitor. So if you’re in the habit of finding Don Juans equally (or more) gorgeous when they do something flirty, there is an upside: Now you've identified your own early-warning mechanism and can work on building a deeper commitment with your partner.
  • You Pop A Monthly Rent Check In The Mail
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    The housing market crashes, and so does your marriage -- but often only if you rent your home. If you own it, you’re likelier to stick it out. This surprising connection between home ownership and the divorce rate comes from a group of economists led by Purvi Sevak at Hunter College (CUNY). Why would it be so? In a housing downturn, owners tend to stay in their marriages because it’s harder to sell their property and they don’t want to lose money. They wait for the market to recover, and -- as time passes -- often reconcile. For better or for worse, your decision not to own joint property removes the wait-and-see lock-in -- making it easier to walk out the door.
  • You Buy His-and-Hers Hermes
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    You thought you found your soulmate when you met a man who knows Louboutins from Manolo Blahniks. And he was smitten when you noticed that his tie was from the new line at Armani. By all expectations, this would be a marriage made in... well, if not heaven, at least Italy. But researchers at Brigham Young University know better. In a recent study, they found that couples who admit to loving money and “stuff” score 10 percent to 15 percent lower on marriage stability than couples who say money isn’t important to them. They bicker more about finances -- even if they’re financially well off -- and are less responsive to each other. A marriage between two materialists fares worse, in fact, than one with only a single spouse who's a shopaholic.
  • You Lunch With The Wrong Folks
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    Your boss did it. Lisa in accounting did it. Your best friend, Lynn, did it. Even your upstairs neighbor did it (and noisily). Everyone’s doing it: getting divorced. Not you, you say. But you’re in a high-risk group, judging by the “divorce cluster” data from a study led by Rose McDermott at Brown University. The people in your social network -- everyone you rub shoulders with habitually -- influence your attitude about relationships. People with divorced friends are 147 percent more likely to become divorced. Statistically speaking, the more your friends, co-workers, siblings, and acquaintances have done it, the more likely it is that you might one day say to your husband, "Let’s do it. Let’s get divorced, too."
  • You Light Up Alone
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    He kicked the cigarette habit, but you can’t. It’s a vicious cycle: You smoke, he complains, you fight, you stress, and then you need to smoke again. (Although correlation isn’t causation; there are other risk factors too.) A group at the Centre for Economic Policy Research in Australia found that smoking is not a very high-risk factor in a marriage if both spouses are smokers. But divorce rates increase significantly -- by 76 to 95 percent -- when only one spouse (especially the wife) has the habit. Quitting saves your (love) life.

Earlier on HuffPost:

6 Kissing Tips

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