Different people have different ideas about what constitutes a long-term relationship. What you believe to be one can vary from what others do. It all depends on your perspective.
Read on to find out everything about what a long-term relationship is, and to see if you and your partner fit in the long-term relationship boat.
What is a Long-Term Relationship?
Long-term relationships last a minimum of 2-3 years on average (and can, of course, last longer!), although most couples split up during this time.
Not unexpectedly, this is when oxytocin levels tend to drop in the relationship, and they become less enamored with each other. They can even begin to find bothersome or unresolvable problems in their relationship.
Here are some more things you should know:
“Long-Term” is Subjective
Being in a long-time relationship can mean different things to different people. In fact, deciding whether you’re in a casual fling or a long-term relationship can be different, depending on the person you are and the person you’re with.
For example, a person who likes to jump from person to person and loves having short-lived, passionate flings might think spending 4 months with a person is a big deal.
Others, who start every relationship hoping that it’ll be ready for marriage might think 4 years together is still too short a period to spend with someone.
Long-Term Doesn’t Always Mean Happier
People typically love saying that they are in a long-term relationship. But, while it is great that they have found someone to love for the rest of their lives, the longevity of a relationship isn’t always an indicator of happiness.
Relationships Shouldn’t be Measured in Length
For most couples in long-term relationships, the overall impact they’ve had on each other’s lives turns to nothing. While most of us think that love grows with time, does it mean that the short-lived relationships we had were less happy, or even less impactful?
Not at all. In fact, most of us can admit that some casual flings we had in the past have impacted us just as much as the more serious romantic relationships we have had. It’s important to measure relationships by the impact they’ve had on us, rather than the length.
Both Partners Haven’t Defined “Long-term” Together
Another problem with determining whether you’re in a long-term relationship is that the expectations haven’t been discussed beforehand by both partners. In fact, both might have different definitions of what a long-term relationship looks like.
For the woman, it might mean introducing her partner to her parents, and for the man, it might mean going on a vacation together.
Most Long-Term Relationships Are Pure Luck
We’ll explain this with the example of George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin: George Clooney was an insatiable bachelor till the ripe old age of 50, and had expressed sincere disinterest in ever settling down. He was also dubbed one of Hollywood’s most eligible albeit oldest bachelors.
Then he met Amal – a successful human rights lawyer by day and even fiercer woman by night – and fell head over heels in love. He popped the question within a year of dating her and they now have beautiful twins together.
If one had asked George even a day before he met his now-wife whether he saw his future looking like this, he would’ve laughed.
Most of us really don’t know who we’ll end up with, but life has a funny way of proving us wrong.
The Longer the Relationship, the More Work it Takes
Since the individual lives of the partners don’t end when you enter a relationship, you and your partner will undoubtedly face difficulties as your relationship grows.
If your partner is able to help you through a difficult period, it’s a positive sign that they’ll be able to handle you at your worst, and is a clear indicator of how strong your love is.
A long-term relationship necessitates coping with all aspects of that individual. If you find yourself trying to change big aspects of your partner, you’re certainly not meant to be together for the long haul.
Are You in a Long-Term Relationship? Here are the Signs
We know that defining the length of a long-term relationship is useless, because it’s subjective to each couple. Let’s instead look at some signs that you and your partner are in a long-term relationship.
Here are some signs your relationship will withstand the cruel test of time.
1. You can be yourselves around each other.
People prefer to show only the sexiest aspects of themselves at the beginning of a relationship, hiding everything they think might make them seem less attractive in their partner’s eyes.
If you don’t feel like you have to continually please your partner to win their love, it’s a good sign for your relationship’s future. You know that he loves you, for better or for worse.
If you’re in a relationship where you feel free to express yourself and your partner is willing to listen, help, and be open with you, it’s a good harbinger of things to come.
2. You’re a true team.
When you form a plan together as a couple, you both follow through with it. Neither of you is setting the other up for disappointment.
Both partners are equally invested in the relationship. You know you can depend on each other for major and minor stuff.
This shows that both people are in the right state of mind for a successful relationship and are on the same page. Since both partners feel secure and relaxed, stability allows for the development of confidence in the relationship – and also allowing it to grow.
3. You’re honest about your past.
Although you didn’t reveal all the details of your past the first time you met your partner, it’s a positive sign that you’ve gradually opened up to each other. Opening up about your past means talking about heartbreaks, traumas, wins, and losses.
It takes bravery, wisdom, and willpower to be emotionally open about the less-than-positive aspects of ourselves, even with our partner. These are good attributes to have in a long-term relationship, and will help you endure the highs and lows together.
4. You genuinely apologize to each other for any mistakes.
We’re all human. We all make silly mistakes and statements we don’t mean, and we can forget an anniversary or two. It’s remarkable how therapeutic a simple “I’m sorry” can be for a partnership.
If you have a partner who can apologize, it is a rare quality. You should do everything possible to hold onto them.
Two individuals who can accept ownership for their mistakes rather than making a long list of justifications for their actions are more likely to get through difficult times without ending up resenting one another.
5. You trust each other.
Any successful relationship is built on the foundation of trust. Your relationship will flourish, and you’ll be able to endure even the most difficult obstacles if you keep having faith in each other.
Being insecure and sharing issues with others is challenging. It’s imperative not to betray a partner’s faith when they’ve opened up to you. This confidence ensures that you can rely on each other to not let you down.
6. You give each other your full attention.
Make time to have meaningful discussions with all other distractions put away. Giving your complete attention to each other can be as easy as not looking at your smartphone when your partner is speaking, and pausing what you’re doing to listen to them attentively.
You treat each other with dignity even during heated exchanges. Instead of partially listening while thinking of your next argument in your mind, you genuinely hear your partner out.
This implies that each partner pays attention to the other, respects how the other feels about the issue, and treats each other with empathy and love.
7. You have similar beliefs and goals in life.
Your major goals in life should be in sync if you want your relationship to last. You can prevent big rifts down the road if you’re on the same page about the important things, including:
- Your thoughts on marriage
- How big you want your family to be
- Where you see yourselves in the future
If one partner wants to have three children and the other is adamantly opposed to the idea of having children at all, there may be a problem.
If your partner says they don’t want children, but you do, don’t attempt to be ‘chill’ by agreeing with them in the hopes that they’ll change their views later. You’re just setting yourself up for disappointment.
8. Even When You Fight, You Respect One Another
No matter how lovey-dovey your relationship is, conflict is unavoidable. All couples argue, even in healthy relationships.
Arguments aren’t a sign that you’re incompatible; they’re a sign that you’re human. What really matters is how you handle yourselves in those tense situations.
A positive sign that you and your partner are meant to be is that no one gets mean, no one adds irrelevant complaints, and none of you tries to win to the detriment of the other – no matter how bad the fight gets.
9. You enjoy doing new things together.
Pay attention and act quickly if your relationship is less than a year old and things are already becoming stagnant. It’ll only get more challenging to keep things fresh as the years pass, so it’s better to nip the boredom in the bud.
Couples who are already used to mixing it up by exploring new locations, taking up a new interest together, or planning new things with friends are more likely to stick it out.
Couples that grow together tend to stay together. Exploring new things and having fun in a relationship helps to keep the spark alive.
10. You celebrate each other’s wins.
Couples who’ve been together for a long time need to realize that they’re on the same side. The victories of one partner shouldn’t be intimidating or trigger envy in the other.
It’s a victory for both of you, and you should be proud of it.
Be supportive of each other, express your pride in their accomplishments and efforts, and offer guidance when needed. Insecurity resulting from one partner’s success is one of the worst things that can happen in a relationship.
11. They feel like home.
It is a great way to know that you and your partner might be the rare couple who will make it when they feel like home. Even after the honeymoon phase has ended, you see them and feel your heart fill with love for them.
In this cruel and loveless world, it’s rare to fall in love with someone great and even rarer to have them fall in love with you too.
The Bottom Line
There’s no set rule for defining a long term relationship. It’s important to measure a long-term relationship by the impact that it has and how strong it is rather than by how long you’ve been dating. The above signs will help you figure out whether you and your partner are there.
So, have you recognized these signs and are now in a long-term relationship? Check out 13 Things That Prove Your Relationship is Ready for Marriage to see if your relationship is ready for the next step.