This was something I was discussing with a friend a while back and they commented it would make a good blog post. Only now have I got round to shaping it into something readable after a little research.
The answer to your question is obvious you may say. You just know, it just happens, it’s after a year of being together. There could be many answers depending on what your definition of long term relationship is but I wanted to pick apart that grey area.
I don’t think the huge commitment goals such as buying a house or getting married are a sign of a relationship getting serious. It’s before that; before even the idea of spending your life together is floated.
Those first few weeks of dating are exciting and scary all at once. There’s a great expectation upon both of you to present the ‘best’ version of your selves and to be funny and charming.
Soon you’re getting to know each other and meeting their family members. To me, this signals that things are starting to get serious. The relationship is still in the dating phase though.
You continue going on dates, spending weekends together, maybe staying overnight for the first time, leaving clothes and toothbrushes at their house. You’re telling your friends about your new boyfriend, how great he is. They want to meet him and you arrange this one evening down the pub. As soon as he’s out of ear shot, you immediately ask your friends what they think.
Six months later and you are celebrating that half year spent together. You feel like you know each other inside out – but you’re wrong. There’s so much more to learn. You spend your first Valentine’s Day together and it’s perfect. A simple night in together yet so much more than that.
You say I love you for the first time and truly mean it. It makes you feel slightly delirious with happiness.
Your relationship is approaching the year mark and more celebrations ensue. A photo taken and love declared on Facebook for all to see.
You spend your first Christmas together and exchange gifts. They’re not extravagant but you can’t believe someone has taken the time to pick out these thoughtful gifts for you and you’ll treasure them forever.
The next year seems to go by in a flash, as much time as possible is spent together, making the most of being young and having little responsibility. You go on your first holiday together and it’s a blur of sun, tourists, photos, food and arguments over silly things. You go out for meals more than you eat in, you do short breaks because why not? You cry together, you laugh together, you argue together but most of all you cherish each other because it could all be taken away in a second.
The idea of spending your life together, of living under the same roof is floated. You surprise yourself with how chilled you feel about this. Maybe it could work. You joke about getting married, about having children and making a life together. It doesn’t feel like a joke though as you’d love for it to really happen.
Life is flashing by and you’re soon approaching two years together. You’ve heard the second year is difficult, you know others succumb to pressure and break up. You argue more often this year – you’re feeling the pressure. You work hard though, you’ve been through a lot together and you’re not about to throw that away. There’s still love there and you hold onto that and things get better.
You both have days where it feels like you could punch the other in the face but life isn’t worth thinking about without them in it.
This is when relationships get serious for me. Maybe that’s long past dating for some. I feel like you really know each other after 2 and a half years. The ‘honeymoon phase’ as they call it is way over and you’re living the routine of every day life together.
Once you’ve approached three years together, it’s either make or break. Instead of the seven year itch, we’re more likely to break up after three years together according to research. However, life shouldn’t be all about trying to hit those milestones. Take each day as it comes and do things at your own pace.
Relationships do take work and you shouldn’t give up too easily. I think you know when you’ve got a good thing but sometimes all it takes is a reminder of this on a bad day to pull you back (even if that is watching Hayley fob off every boy that comes near her in Love Island).
In a generation that has supposedly has commitment issues and live out dates through their phones, we need to prove them wrong. We put everything into our relationships. We’re capable of long term relationships if only we were shown healthier ones through the media, if only we focused on our own relationships instead of others and accept each other for who we are as individuals. Easier said than done right?
So if you’re in the dating phase, not quite long term relationship yet, cherish every moment and don’t feel pressured by milestones. You’ve got this!