Which relationship has the most merits, a short-term connection, or a long-term one? Perhaps you’ve recently come out of a partnership and, after being advised by friends to ‘get back in the saddle,’ you are embarking on another search for love. Should you already be setting your sights on something serious, or is it okay to focus on a series of ‘no strings attached’ encounters? If you opt for the latter, you might experience superficial satisfaction as you place an emotional sticking plaster over unpleasant memories. But isn’t there a danger you’ll be left with a hollow feeling as each subsequent short-term affair crashes and burns?

As with many things in life, there are no right or wrong answers; when we are talking about your love life, it’s too complicated to say one particular relationship is better than the other.


A common type of short-term relationship is the one-night stand. Individuals feeling the pain of a love affair which has hit the rocks often seek temporary solace in this way. There are also many singles who have no intention whatsoever of getting tied down to any one particular person, and relish the freedom to take their pick of potential partners in any social situation. They’ll stroll into a nightclub or a party, eyes lighting up as they assess the talent.

There can be no denying this approach is exciting. It can be thrilling heading into a city center at the weekend with a gang of your friends, not knowing the interesting twists and turns awaiting before the culmination of the evening. If you do happen to find yourself romantically entwined with an attractive stranger, here’s someone new to find out all about. If you’re the aforementioned person who has just come out of one relationship, suddenly being intimate with someone completely different can definitely be cathartic, banishing a lot of the recent hurt by providing fresh experiences. If you’re one of those long lasting singles, a potentially different partner each month/week keeps your love life spontaneous.

Friends with benefits

There are other options. Regular sexual experiences with trusted friends might cut out the anticipation of momentary closeness with mysterious strangers, but it retains the lack of strings. This particular arrangement relies on a unique bond with a friend who is prepared to transcend some normally well-established red lines with you. As long as you both appreciate you are living for the moment, and accept the fact these fun encounters are never, ever going to lead any further, no one is going to get hurt.


All these examples illustrate that short-term relationships produce a few hours of intimacy, but nothing deeper. Humans are certainly programmed to enjoy physical intimacy; when we’re younger, this is one of the prime motivations driving our social lives. But we’re also driven to consider ‘settling down’ and starting families. Obviously, this is not for everyone, but even same-sex couples have the option of taking children onboard. In short, a high percentage of people eventually dwell on the possibilities offered by long-term relationships.

There comes a time when an endless conveyor belt of short-term encounters seems demeaning. Long-term partnerships produce so much more in terms of creating a loving environment where maturity and satisfaction surpass quickly forgotten thrills. In a long-term relationship, individuals learn respect, and  because these liaisons evolve, they prompt a deeper understanding.

Most importantly of all, long-term relationships do something which is taboo in any short-term encounter. They encourage people to fall in love: surely the summit of the human experience. When individuals have reached this point, they can look back on any promiscuity, relieved all that shallowness has been left behind.