How Long Is Considered a Long-Term Relationship?

Couple standing back to back and smiling

Opinions differ regarding the actual timeframe that qualifies a relationship as long term. Depending on your experience, what you consider to be long term may differ from what others consider to be long-term relationships.

How Long Is a Long-Term Relationship?

In general, committed couples experience a burst of oxytocin, a feel-good bonding hormone, in the beginning months of the relationship that lasts around nine months to three years in this heightened (and very lovey-dovey) state. Between nine months and three years, oxytocin levels tend to drop off as you both sink into a routine with each other. From a more scientific perspective, you could consider a long-term relationship one where the couple is experiencing loving and healthy interactions after their oxytocin levels have dropped off.

Is Seven Months a Long-Term Relationship?

While some couples would not consider seven months a long-term relationship, others may. After about seven months together, couples have a general idea of how each other work and may have already said, "I love you." Think about it this way:

  • Someone who has only dated around and hasn't been in a committed relationship before may absolutely consider seven months to be a long-term relationship
  • Someone who has had multiple relationships that tended to last over a year at the minimum may not consider seven months to be a long term relationship

Is Six Months a Long-Term Relationship?

Similar to seven months, some may or may not consider six months a long term relationship. Whether someone does or not will depend on each individual's unique dating experience, cultural influences, and upbringing.

How Long Do Long-Term Relationships Last?

Long-term relationships tend to last anywhere from two to three years, with couples breaking up around this time. Not surprisingly, this is when many couples experience the oxytocin dip and feel less infatuated with each other. They may begin to notice relational issues that bother them or feel unresolvable. Others go on and continue their commitment to each other.

What Is Considered a Long-Term Relationship in High School?

In high school, long-term relationships are defined by the couple. If a couple feels like a few months is long term, then to them, it is. If a couple only sees a year or more as long term, then to them it is. What qualifies as long term really depends on what the couple feels is long term. While others may have an opinion, there is no set rule that dictates what a couple can consider to be a long-term relationship.

Long-Term Relationship Stages

In a long term relationship, couples aim to build a loving and healthy relationship while creating a shared and balanced life together. Stages may include:

  • Infatuation and bonding: heightened levels of oxytocin, feeling connected, and giddy with each other
  • Getting to know each other: deeper connection, discussing individual and shared goals
  • Bringing your lives together: every couple will have their own unique balance for how much or how little they are involved in each other's lives
  • Commitment: fully committing to each other in whatever way the couple feels comfortable doing so
Couple relaxing on bed

How Long Is a Short-Term Relationship?

Short-term relationships are also defined by the individual and couple. For some, a short-term relationship may be a few weeks to a few months, while others may see anything under a year as short term. Some may also view short-term relationships as an experience that's more about fun and less about commitment.

How to Make a Long-Term Relationship Work

Long-term relationships work best if:

  • Each partner is open, honest, and communicative.
  • Each partner can identify and communicate their needs to each other.
  • Each partner wants to work hard to meet their partner's needs.
  • Both partners have shared relational goals.
  • Each partner has insight, is willing to look into their own behavior, and understand their partner's perspective.
  • There is balanced reciprocity within the relationship.
  • Each partner has a developed sense of empathy.
  • Both partners want to be together and don't feel obligated to stay together.

What Is Considered a Long-Term Relationship?

What each individual and couple considers to be long term will depend on how they uniquely define it. Keep in mind there is no right or wrong way to define a long-term relationship, and it is up to your discretion.

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How Long Is Considered a Long-Term Relationship?