How Long Does the Average Relationship Last?

How Long Does the Average Relationship Last?

In this article

When you first decide to be exclusive with a great new partner, wondering “how long does the average relationship last?” is the last thing on your mind—but as the relationship grows and matures, things may go from good to bad.

“I chased my last boyfriend so hard—I just knew we’d hit it off, and we did, but after about a year or so, I knew it wasn’t going to last,” said recently single Annette, 29.

“We moved in together and it was almost like as soon as the last box was unpacked, the spark just disappeared. It took us another year to admit it to ourselves and each other… we got along so well, but it felt like we had gone from lovers to roommates.”

How long do relationships last?

Some data indicate monogamous relationships now last about two years and nine months, while other studies find the average relationship length is as short as 17 months. Regardless, what’s clear is that the timetable for relationships has changed a lot over time.

“For decades, divorce was less common than it is today. People also got married younger, which in return meant less dating in general,” explained Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking. “The dating world has now changed, leading to people dating more before they enter marriage, and/or divorce has become more common leading to more dating later in life.”

With relaxed courtship norms, individuals are less likely to continue a relationship with someone that they know may not be right for them. This is a positive. Many people are looking for the right person, which can lead to long, healthy and happy relationships. If they know they’re not in the right relationship, there’s no point in trying to make it work just for the sake of extending the duration of the relationship.

Tips for making your relationship last

If you’re currently in a wonderful, happy relationship, it’s up to both of you to take care of it and foster it together. Even if shorter relationships are not necessarily a bad thing, making the time to work on the happy one you’re in is never a negative.


Communicate your needs with your partner and listen to them in return. Speak to each other with love and work through everyday battles to build a stronger life.

Trust one another

Having confidence in your relationship and partner will help a relationship last.

Keep it exciting, and always try new things

According to Trombetti, this advice is key. Variety is the spice of life. People say that about partners, but it’s just as much about the experiences you share. Never let it become dull and predictable. Be sure to always include new activities together whether it’s a new book, ballroom dancing or skydiving. Keep it fun.

Laugh a lot

If you can’t laugh with each other, then you have a problem. A couple that laughs together stays together.

Create a support system

Be your partner’s biggest supporter, and make sure they know it. Your partner should always know that you have their back and vice versa.

What’s private stays private

In other words, make sure they know that they can tell you anything and you will never divulge to your friends or family. They need to know you are like Fort Knox. Everyone needs that loyalty and discretion.

Why are relationships getting shorter?

“As technology and social media expand, people are able to access more people; there are wider social networks,” said Bri McCarroll, a licensed couples therapist who specializes in couples retreats and workshops. “With these changes, people have more options.”

Essentially, if a person isn’t happy in the relationship, it’s easier to find a replacement rather than work on the relationship. Additionally, technological and social media advances have made it even easier to be unfaithful. These opportunities theoretically may increase the risk that a partner may abandon their current relationship and/or increase the possibility of infidelity. In turn, the relationship may end prematurely.

Is a shorter average relationship length really a bad thing?

According to McCarroll, a shorter average relationship length is not necessarily a bad thing. Many shorter relationships are good “practice” and can be a way for you to learn more about people and what you need to work on to succeed in a relationship. That being said, when you have too many “short” relationships, it can start to impact your self-esteem. You can start to think, “I will never get this right; I just can’t DO relationships.” Like everything, it’s a balance.

After all, how long should you really spend with someone you realize you probably won’t marry? If you are leaving your relationship after a short period of time to live a healthier life, that is a great thing. Finding the right partner for you is the most important thing.

“We can make the argument that shorter relationships early on lead to stronger ones later on if we learn from those relationships,” explained McCarroll. “If you engage in serial monogamy and don’t self-reflect, don’t grow as you experience these relationships, you will become less secure and confident as a partner—and this may well negatively impact the success of your later relationships.”

On the other hand, if you view these shorter relationships as opportunities to learn about yourself, relationships, communication and how to relate, then you will be a better individual and partner. The skills and knowledge you gained from those relationships will contribute to the success of later ones.

Disclaimer: The above is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.

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