What is considered long-term depends on whose perspective it is and what their situation is.
For a teenager, long-term may mean a couple of months to a year. However, this perspective changes in the twenties and thirties and beyond. The definition of long-term for a relationship is entirely dependent on the person’s perspective and expectations about life and the experiences they have had until then.
As the person gets older, they add more experience to their life and their perspective naturally changes. As a consequence, the meaning of long-term also changes. Typically, “long-term” gets longer and longer as the person grows older.
This article discusses the meaning of long-term in the case of relationships. Here you will find how different people view long-term relationships. You will also find here the five stages of a long-term relationship.
What’s considered a long-term relationship?
You may have heard about the initial euphoria experienced at the beginning of a relationship. This is caused by the release of the happy hormone oxytocin by your brain. You will feel joyous, feel good, and bond well with each other. You feel as if nothing can go wrong. It is often referred to as the “top of the world” feeling.
This phase usually lasts anywhere from six months to a couple of years in couples. This is generally termed the lovey-dovey stage. As the couple is forced to turn back their focus from each other to other unavoidable matters in their lives such as work, this will begin to fade gradually.
How long it takes for the oxytocin level to come down to normal levels depends on various factors. As the oxytocin reaches a normal level, the euphoric feeling disappears and the long-term girlfriend and boyfriend settle into a routine.
A long-term relationship is one in which the couple continues to have love and regard for each other and have healthy interactions even after the oxytocin level has dropped.
Can six or seven months be considered long enough?
Most couples may not consider 6-7 months as long-term for a relationship. If two individuals are together in a relationship for six or seven months, they would have a good idea about each other by then. They would have revealed their feelings for each other.
However, by the above definition, a seven-month relationship cannot be termed a long-term one as they are still in their honeymoon phase. But this alone cannot be used to define long-term on all occasions. If a person has never had a serious relationship before, they may consider seven months in a committed relationship as long-term. On the other hand, a person who has always been in longer relationships may not consider a seven-month relationship as a long-term one.
The same can be said about a six-month relationship or a year-long relationship. As said at the onset, it depends on the individual, their experiences, and their perspectives that decide whether a relationship is long-term or not.
How long is a long-term relationship?
Even though the long-term relationship meaning may vary from person to person, typically a long-term relationship lasts for anywhere between two and three years. This is the time when couples tend to break up. This is also when the oxytocin levels come down to normal in most couples.
As oxytocin level drops, the feeling of infatuation for each other vanishes. Only true love, if any, will remain. In the absence of true love, couples tend to notice defects and deficiencies in each other, leading to relationship issues. If nothing is done about this, the issues will aggravate and reach a stage in which they will become unresolvable. This will ultimately lead to a breakup.
On the other hand, those who continue to experience love after the oxytocin level has stabilized will continue their committed journey for longer.
What is a long-term relationship for teenagers?
When you are a teenager and still in high school, your definition of long-term can be as short as a couple of months. The perspective of a teenager is limited by the people and environment they live in. Most teenagers don’t think beyond the end of high school. So to them, long-term can be a couple of months to a year.
Moreover, most teenagers are not exposed to the outside world. This again can restrict their views about the long-term. In such a scenario, whatever they believe becomes the fact for them. If a teenager thinks that six months is long-term, it becomes long-term for them. Even when others may differ with this view, the teenager may not be influenced by that. They may continue to stick with six months as the duration for long-term relationships.
Stages of commitment in relationships
A couple in a long-term relationship will strive to build a healthy and strong relationship filled with love and affection. They would aim to create a space where they are equal partners and share a steady and balanced life.
To create such a life of togetherness, they will have to go through these 5 stages of the relationship.
Stage 1: Honeymoon stage
This is the time for infatuation and falling head over heels in love with each other. The raised level of oxytocin ensures that bonding happens. Joy, passion, attraction, and love are some of the highlights of this stage. The individuals feel a deep connection with each other and experience intoxicating love for each other.
Stage 2: Wake up stage
In this stage, the oxytocin level has started dropping. The couple sees each other for who they really are, shorn of their perfect image. As they see each other’s real character, they may feel irritated, disillusioned, and disappointed with each other. This may trigger a power struggle or fight-flight-fright response from one or both of them.
Stage 3: Disillusionment stage
As the partners feel disenchanted with each other, this is bound to escalate into a serious stage if nothing is done about it. The distance starts to build up between the couple and for some, this will signal the end of the relationship. But others may try to turn things around with external help. They may manage to hack the code for a healthy relationship and be together for the long term.
Stage 4: Breaking point stage
After the patch-up in the last stage, things may look as if it is good for a while. But in some couples, the disillusionment, fights, and indifference towards each other returns. This can make them go further away from each other. This is when the partner strays and has affairs. In others, this may come out as more emphasis on self-care and self-protection, and withdrawal into self. A breakup is a serious option for couples at this stage.
Stage 5: Pure love
If a couple manages to reach this stage, they would have learned the importance of the relationship and maintaining it. They would have realized that there is no such thing as perfect love or a perfect partner. They learn to accept and love each other despite their imperfections and oddities. They also realize that a relationship will last only if both partners want it to last and they are willing to work for it.
Even at this stage, if the partners are complacent, the whole relationship can fall apart in no time.
Even after building a loving and healthy relationship, the long-term boyfriend or girlfriend cannot relax. Or else, there is a chance of it falling apart. For a healthy relationship to remain healthy, it needs constant work.
And, work means being open, honest, and empathetic with each other and learning to communicate well their feelings and thoughts. Both partners need to make an effort to understand and accept each other. Ultimately, both partners should want to stay together and not feel obliged to be together.
The definition of a long-term relationship is in your hands.
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