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10 differences between short term and long term relationships

short term relationshipEvery relationship that has ever existed can be sorted into one of two categories, a long term relationship or a short term relationship.  The basic and obvious definition tells us that a long term relationship is one which has lasted for a long time while short term is evidently a relationship that only lasts for a limited time, like a matter of weeks or months.  This kind of relationship is often agreed upon when one or both parties are moving away or for some other reason will be unable to further explore the relationship.  It is not a fling or a one-night stand but it is not a serious relationship either.  However, a short term relationship may turn into a long term relationship.  This article explains ten key differences between relationships which last for a long time and relationships of a short duration.

  1. A short term relationship fulfills only basic needs

There is no commitment involved in a short relationship and it is used only so each person can fulfill their basic needs for companionship or gratification and enjoy spending some time with the other person.  You never fully get to know them so you never have to deal with their annoying or irritating habits and flaws.  While you enjoy the other person’s company, you don’t spend enough time with them to get close to them or develop strong feelings for them.  A short relationship will often be used as a sort of rebound after the failure of a long term relationship.

Friends with benefits

A short relationship will often seem more like a friends with benefits situation than an actual relationship.  You get on well with the other person but realistically you know that it would never work out between you, and while you find them attractive physically, you’re not overly attracted to them.  You’re more like friends than lovers, happy to spend a little time together and take care of each others’ needs, but you both know it’s temporary and there are no strong feelings involved.

  1. In a long term relationship, priorities change

In a short relationship, it’s completely fine to be more focused on yourself and prioritise other things in your life over your partner, but when you’ve been seeing this person for a little longer, it often changes from a short term to a long term relationship, and your priorities will change.  The longer the relationship lasts and the more serious it gets, the more you will prioritise it in your life and it may become the most important thing to you.  In a long term relationship, you care a lot more about the outcome of the relationship.  It is no longer just a means to an end, but a connection with another person that you wish to explore further.


While there is no commitment in a short relationship, it is the basis of a long term relationship.  You are a lot more devoted to the other person, and things like love and compatibility start to become important to you because now you’re starting to envisage spending the rest of your life with this person; getting married, having kids, moving to the suburbs…

  1. Dates

In a short term relationship, dates are how you and your partner get to know one another and flirt a little.  They’re romantic and there’s some sexual tension in the air.  You go to a restaurant or a bar, somewhere high-class and with low lighting where rich aromas fill the air.  You’ll hold hands under the table while you get acquainted with one another, and then when the cheque comes, there’s an argument over who will pay, usually won by the man, at least on the first date.

Dating may start out this way in a long term relationship, but after a while it changes.  You know each other so well now that most of the time you don’t even bother going out.  You stay in and order pizza, watching television in your pyjamas.  If you do go out, you would quite happily go to a McDonald’s.  There’s no need any more for the affectation of going to high-class or swanky restaurants.  You and your partner are happy to go somewhere where you are comfortable and there’s no real need to get dressed up.  When the cheque comes, you’ll have your own system in place and you’ll know whose turn it is to pay and there will be no argument over it.

short term vs long term

  1. Appearance

In a short term relationship, a man is unlikely to have ever seen the woman without makeup on.  In a short relationship you make an effort with your appearance and take a lot of care to make sure you look irresistible when you’re going on dates.  If there’s any chance that you’re going to end up in bed, you’re prepared.  You’ve shaved and waxed and exfoliated and moisturized every inch of your body in preparation of this date.  In a short relationship, you’re always going to great lengths to look your absolute best.

On the other hand, when you’re in a long term relationship, you may not even bother to wear makeup any more.  You shave your legs only during the summer months when there’s a chance that you’ll have to wear shorts or a skirt, or no matter how much she complains about your scratchy facial hair you just can’t be bothered to shave.  Your relationship goes a lot deeper now than appearance and it was exhausting trying to maintain those perfectly waxed eyebrows anyway, so you’ve given up and decided to just let your partner love you for how you are.

  1. Sex

Sex is usually quite an important part of a short term relationship since it’s one of your only real motivations for continuing to see the other person.  You don’t have much else in common, and you’re really not a fan of their attitude, but the sex is good.  In a short relationship, the sex is new and exciting as you discover one another’s bodies.

However, one of two things can happen to sex in a long term relationship.  It can lose its unpredictability and excitement, and become more like a chore than something you enjoy and which brings you closer together.  You come home on a Friday night and have an unenthusiastic fumble under the covers and then fall asleep.  Or it can get much, much better as you learn every inch of each other’s bodies, discover what you each like and dislike, and find out how to work your partner’s body.

  1. Short term relationship can evolve into long term relationships

While all relationships may start out in the way a short relationship begins, often these relationships will end after a few weeks or months when one person leaves, you get bored of the other person, or you just get busy and fall out of contact.  However, some relationships that begin as short term will turn into longer term relationships as you get to know one another.  You can’t classify a short term relationship as a short relationship until it’s over, so sometimes what you may initially believe will only last for a few weeks becomes something more.  You realise that you actually have a lot in common and are really starting to care about this person.  It becomes more difficult to see the end of the relationship in sight.

  1. A long term relationship requires an emotional involvement

While there doesn’t need to be a lot of feelings or common interests in a short term relationship, in a long term relationship it’s necessary for there to be some level of emotional involvement.  The longer the relationship, the more these feelings develop and the closer a couple becomes.  A long term relationship encompasses all feelings like love, security, comfort, commitment and happiness.  In a relationship that lasts a long time, you fall in love with the other person, you feel safe with them, they can comfort you and are there for you when you most need them, you are fully committed to them, and they can make you happier than anyone else.  This is why when a long term relationship ends it is much more devastating for everyone involved than the end of a short relationship; because in losing the other person, you are also losing your safety net, all those feelings of love and comfort with which they provided you.

  1. Romance

Romance is a lot more important in short term relationships than in relationships that last for a long time.  In the short term, romance means romantic dates, sweet texts, flowers and sweets, wooing.  It’s the effort you put into your appearance before you see them and the way you act when they’re around, when you make an effort to be a more attractive version of yourself.  Romance is important in the early stages of a relationship because it is necessary to win the other person over and it can make them feel something for you, but it becomes less important as a relationship advances because firmer and more solid foundations are created on which you can build your relationship.

long term relationshipRomance doesn’t die in a long term relationship, but it does manifest in different ways.  Instead of flowers and chocolates, it might be that you’ve had a stressful day at work and come home to find that your partner has made dinner and run you a bath.  Romance is still present, it simply presents itself differently in smaller gestures that actually show how well your partner knows you.  It is there, but it is not as important in a long term relationship.

  1. Making plans

The plans you make in a short term relationship can be very different to the plans you make in a long term relationship.  When it is short term, the things that you and your partner talk about, the plans you make, are usually not very far in advance.  You’ll perhaps discuss going to dinner next weekend or going to see the new Fast and Furious film when it comes out next month.  These plans are not yet set in stone and could change on a momentary whim from either of you.

While you may continue to make short term plans when you’re in a long term relationship, you’ll also begin to think about things in the long run.  Maybe your partner will mention their cousin’s wedding in three months time and tell you to make sure you have something to wear.  There is no doubt that you’re going.

Talking about the future

Discussing your future tends to be very different in a long term relationship.  Once you and your partner have been together for a while, your plans start to get more serious.  You’ll start talking about what each of you wants from the relationship; if you want to get married, how many children you want to have, where you want to live.  These are things that you would never even think about in a short term relationship.

  1. They see the real you

In a short term relationship, your partner never truly sees the real you.  They never discover your quirks or habits, possibly never even see you without your dating mask on.  They see only the version of you that you want them to see; the sexy, confident and attractive version.  You only allow this mask to come off bit by bit when you feel very confident and secure in your relationship.

In a long term relationship, your partner sees you for who you are, the real you.  You don’t need to act like a better version of yourself anymore because your partner has seen all your flaws, accepted them and loves you for them.  They know all your quirks and bad habits and they still love you.  You don’t need to wear a mask in this relationship; your partner knows exactly who you are, faults and all, and they still wouldn’t do a thing to change you.  They accept you and love you exactly as you are.

Antoine Peytavin, fondateur du site

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