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What Is Considered a Long-Term Relationship?

Sophie Simons
January 18, 2024

The quality of a relationship largely defines the quality of our life. Whether we are talking about friendship, family relationships, or a love relationship, how we feel in that relationship can drastically affect our everyday life. 

And while falling in love is one of the most beautiful parts of life, where exactly is that moment when the relationship goes from short-term to long-term and stable? What is considered a long-term relationship?

What is legally considered a long-term relationship?

How would we even define a long-term relationship? Perhaps the best definition of a long relationship can be found in an unexpected source - in law. Law Insider defines a long-term relationship as a relationship that has lasted for a minimum of two years without interruption. 

But is this the only measure to define a long relationship? 

Definitely not - in addition to the length of time, we have to take into account many other factors, such as the quality of the relationship, the emotional investment on the part of both or more partners, the psychological impact of the relationship on the participants, and the sociological impact of the relationship on everyone involved.

Most of all, we must take into account that a relationship does not have to refer only to love relationships - a relationship can also be a solid, healthy friendship.

How long is a long-term relationship?

While the law considers that a relationship can be defined as long-term after two years, psychologists believe that it only occurs after seven years. But can we firmly place a long-term relationship in a time frame? 

It would be impossible to do this, considering that relationships develop differently depending on the partners, investment in the relationship, commitment, and the situation in which the relationship is built. 

To assess whether our relationship is long-term or not, it is best to follow your personal feelings - if, after a while, you feel relaxed, happy, supported, and satisfied in a relationship and are willing to invest in it regardless of everything, as well as your partner, you can consider your relationship a long term one.

Long-term relationship stages 

Let's break down romantic relationships first. While falling in love is the easiest part of love, nowadays, couples rarely adhere to the traditional concept of getting to know each other, dating, getting into a relationship, and then getting married. Considering that, our experience of relationships had to change, so defining longevity is increasingly difficult. 

But what has yet to change through all of this are the theses of psychologists about the stages of love. According to psychologists, love relationships consist of four stages that can help us determine whether a relationship is long-term or short-term, so they broke them down by months:

1. From six months to up to two years

This is the phase of falling in love and euphoria. Partners are each other's most important item in life. Despite the fact that they notice flaws in each other, they are not as important as the feeling of happiness from spending time together and sharing new experiences.

Although it seems like a superficial explanation, there is even a scientific name for ignoring the partner's flaws in the first magical period of the relationship - suspension of judgment. During this time, the prefrontal cortex shows a decrease in activity, which influences the ability to experience certain actions of others as something negative.

2. From one year to up to five years

This phase is also known as the early attachment period. After hormones, attractiveness, and pink-colored glasses have done their work, after an average of one year, couples enter the second phase characterized by a decrease in dopamine (the hormone of happiness). 

Now, the more rational part of the brain, which is more capable of seeing things realistically, takes over the reins. This is the period in which deeper feelings are created, and we begin to notice how much compatibility in thinking, lifestyle, and values ​​is really important.

Our body also starts producing oxytocin, the hormone we associate with the feeling of love. However, it’s important to keep in mind some new relationships tend to end around the two to three-year mark.

3. From five years up to seven years

After five years, there is a period in which crises often occur in relationships. This term is popularly known as 'the seven-year itch.' Partners often begin to feel dissatisfaction and desire for something new and exciting.

They feel as if they have moved away from their significant other, and boredom and quarrels, lack of closeness, and declining sexual desire often lead to the breakup of the relationship

In this period, the most important thing is to position yourself correctly - if the partners continue to communicate well, fight for and invest in the relationship, it can move on to the long-lasting phase.

4. From seven years forward

On average, after seven years of a relationship, there is a period of deep emotional connection. After the relationship has weathered the storm, it is now sailing in calmer waters. After seven years, the partners have a relationship based on deep respect and friendship, with strong feelings and the security that comes with them. 

This is also the moment when the relationship is considered long and permanent, according to psychologists.

FAQs 

What is considered a long relationship in high school? 

In high school, relationships last, on average, from a few weeks to a year, so everything longer than a year can be considered a long-term relationship.

Is 6 months a long-term relationship? 

Six months is not considered long-term for a relationship because the couple is still in the phase of getting to know each other and falling in love.

Is 1 year a long-term relationship? 

A one-year relationship is not defined as a long-term relationship. Although the feelings between the partners are deeper, the relationship and compatibility have not yet been tested.

Is 1.5 years a long-term relationship? 

While this may seem a considerable time, relationships lasting a year and a half are not considered long-term. However, the relationship is starting to get more stable and is well on the way to becoming long-term.

Is 2 years a long-term relationship? 

According to the law, relationships lasting two years are considered long-term. Although psychology doesn’t agree, this is the moment most people deem the relationship as long-lasting.

Is 3 years a long-term relationship?

Following the law, a three-year relationship is considered long-term. However, psychology begs to differ because new relationships sometimes tend to end around the two to three-year mark, so they are not deemed stable and long-lasting.

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Sophie Simons

Sophie Simons is a leading psychologist with a passion for enriching relationships. Through empathetic counseling and insightful guidance, she empowers couples and individuals to foster deeper connections, resolve conflicts, and create lasting harmony. Sophie's expertise in relationship advice has touched countless lives, making her a trusted source for building fulfilling partnerships.

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