What's a Long-Term Relationship These Days Anyway?
How can you tell if you are in a relationship with potential when the dating landscape changes every week, causing lakes to become mountains, and deserts to become rain forests, metaphorically speaking? To help us navigate this particular month of 2015, we checked in with some seasoned modern daters on some classic relationship questions, and when it's time to update that status.
How do you define "serious" in 2015?
"It comes down to loyalty and trust. I think we live in a society where everything is in constant flux and everything is changing. There are so many ways for my boyfriend to meet someone in this day and age. He doesn’t even have to leave his room. It's very crucial to have the trust there. I would say that a long-term relationship is built on the understanding that both parties will be loyal to each other and that they love each other and that despite everything changing around them they will stay together." -- Christine, 24
"A long-term relationship doesn’t have to be the relationship but I have to get a sense going into it that this has potential to lead somewhere. You’re not fighting about petty things. You’re picking your battles. Your conversations have depth to them. When you’re younger it’s about who gives you butterflies. Now it’s about who, realistically, do you want to possibly see in your future?" -- Penny, 25
"A serious relationship is about someone you would be willing to talk to your friends about, maybe mention to your parents. They exist in your life story. A person who has a name and a personality. It’s more than just someone you’re seriously dating. You see them in the daytime. You hang out with them doing normal things. It doesn’t always have to be you know, dinner or a movie. It could just be going grocery shopping, being comfortable enough to do random stuff together and not plan." -- Maria, 26
“If they meet your friends, want to be with you during daylight hours, and are transparent about what's going on in their life and want to truly know about yours, then those are all the makings of a long-term relationship.” -- Olivia, 25
“Short-term relationships can be about exploring yourself or trying something new, but a long-term relationship is about growing closer, and growing together. That, for me, includes not just daily communication via text, email, or in person, but also intimacy. Physical presence is ideal, of course, but intimacy encompasses so much more, especially in a technology-driven world: nightly ‘dates’ talking, and watching Netflix, writing each other letters about our beliefs and debating each other, supporting each other from afar with little messages and gifts… intimacy is about vulnerability and tenderness, on top of the more physical manifestations.” -- Taylor, 25
Is there a defining moment?
“I remember the fourth date with my boyfriend, forever known as the infamous 'tequila night'. It ended up with me falling out of his tub, bringing the shower curtain with me, being hit in the face with the shower rod, and lying on my back laughing hysterically at how ridiculous this situation must have looked from his point of view. I was hooked from there.” -- Marisol, 25
“I’m in a long-term relationship now. I could lie to you and say I did something manly like stand up for her to a pig at a bar, but that would be ridiculous: I don't think they let farm animals into bars in NYC. The truth is we had a talk like adults.” -- Eric, 26
“I knew it was love, once I was in the bathroom shaving his back. On a more serious note, I had surgery back in January and in all my pale, hair-matted, morphine glory, he stayed with me in the hospital holding my hand until the nurses kicked him out. Even as I cried he kept a smile and told me how beautiful I was.” -- Maria, 24
"When their family members tolerate you at family events and even include you in certain traditions of theirs. I was considered an 'honorary' Italian after having to take shots of limoncello and smoking a cigar with my girlfriend’s family."- - James, 25
"We first started dating our last year in college; we were seeing each other every other weekend. It was basically when I really knew because it was a four-hour drive and it was long and tedious but he made the effort. You know it's a real, committed, long-distance long-term when you make those sacrifices." -- Amanda, 24
How big a deal is technology really?
"Technology is often used to meet new people, but I don’t think technology helps you after that initial meeting. Whether or not you put them in a relationship status on Facebook doesn’t really change how serious you are. I think people are using a lot of apps and a lot of things online to meet people but after you meet them it goes back to the old-school way of building a relationship. I don’t think there’s going to be anything that replaces building a relationship." -- Maria, 26
“Usually you share things like happiness, money, and passwords.” -- Amir, 27
“Anyone can text you, or engage with you on social media -- we do that every day with almost every person we've ever met. But it's not just about being in constant communication, it's about having genuine communication. Long-term relationships in 2015 almost need to have a little ‘old-school’ vibe and take it outside of our everyday plugged-in world.” -- Brittany, 24
“2015 is absolutely the age of hookup culture. Exclusivity is key. You might still have a ‘relationship’ with someone by seeing them consistently, but unless the words are spoken, that doesn't necessarily mean they're not seeing, or Tindering, other people too." -- Diana, 26
Is it about time?
"I think after three months -- that’s the cutoff date. Either you’re going to be something or you’re going to end it." -- Sabine, 25
“I think a long-term relationship in 2015 has more to do with commitments and expectations than with a specific timeframe. Some of the longer relationships I've been in, time-wise, aren't ones I'd call ‘long-term’ because neither of us talked much about planning ahead for the future. Yet I started to call my relationship with my current partner ‘long-term’ after just a week when he told me, ‘I can see myself spending a long time with you.’” -- Jennifer, 27
"It has to do with the amount of years you’ve been together consecutively -- I’m not including breaks and stuff. But it also has to do with the amount of time that you’re committed to that person and to that person only." - Stephanie, 24
“Spending a large amount of time, at least more than one night a week, with your significant other. When I say ‘spending time,’ I mean such an activity where neither person is being entertained by a computer screen.” -- Elijah, 27
“I think anything that's lasted past a year is considered somewhat long-term; I was in my relationship for 5 1/2 years and I think everyone (including ourselves for the majority of the time) fully expected us to be together forever.” -- Tiffany, 28
“A long-term relationship is about much more than time, though I think the decision to enter into one should come after a few months together. It’s about communication, outlook, and commitment.” -- Jeffrey, 25