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No two relationships are exactly alike. However, different types of relationships have certain things in common. This might mean the types of feelings involved, the style of sex and intimacy of the couple, or even whether or not they live together.
Here we define the word 'relationship' and give you a list the types of relationships out there.
A relationship is a bonding union between two or more people that have certain things in common -time, likes and dislikes, interests, etc. A couple is the smallest social group considered an interpersonal relationship.
However, what stands out in this type of relationship is the fact that romantic love is involved. According to Helen Fisher, Anthropologist, and director of the research department at Rutgers University, in New Jersey, love can be broken down into three related brain systems. These are sexual impulse, romantic love, and attachment in a long-term relationship.
In her studies, she found that romantic love is not considered an emotion or a state on its own. Instead, it's an impulse that's a biological necessity for the survival of our species.
Similarly, the psychologist Robert Sternberg claims that love has three main parts that can help us to understand the different types of love and romantic relationships that are out there: commitment, intimacy, and passion.
While commitment tends to grow slowly over time, passion emerges quickly and intensely and then diminishes until it reaches a stable point or entirely disappears. Finally, intimacy is somewhere in between and usually develops at the same pace as the relationship.
Considering the theories on love and relationships mentioned prior, we can break them down into the different components that define the different types of romantic relationships:
Sexual relations and intimacy
Finances and household organization
Family relationships and friendships
Using these factors as a starting point, it's easier to list the different types of relationships there are. Do you connect to any of these? Here we'll show you the main ones.
Swinger relationships involve partner exchanges. These involve a wide range of sex acts between heterosexual, bisexual, or gay couples in the same private location or home.
An open marriage or relationship is made up of two people that agree to have intimate relations with people besides their primary partner without considering it infidelity. This is considered a sort of halfway point between a traditional relationship and monogamy or polyamory.
There aren't any rules or established boundaries to be in this kind of relationship. In this case, honesty and communication are the primary keys to success.
Polyamory implies having more than one long-term, intimate, loving, sexual relationship at a time. In this case, it's vital that all those involved consent, and are aware of the other parties in this type of partnership.
A long-distance relationship -whether monogamous, polyamorous, or open- implies two people that never or hardly ever have physical contact since they live in separate places.
These include virtual relationships where the people involved have never met in person before. Certain studies suggest that these couples could actually be more stable and have closer bonds than one might think.
In this case, one of the members of the couple remains monogamous while the other has the freedom to get involved with other third parties.
Monogamy or a monogamous relationship refers to a traditional relationship where love, intimacy, and sex are only shared with one person during an undefined period. This may or may not involve marriage.
Domestic partnerships may happen for financial reasons, because of children, or interests. This type of relationship stands out from the rest since it involves two people that live together or are in a relationship but have almost separate lives -especially emotionally and sexually speaking.
This is a mainly monogamous relationship most of the time, where intimacy or sex with others is permitted if both parties agree. Unlike open relationships, there are a lot of rules and limitations here.
Sexual relations with others aren't as common as in open relationships and tend to simply occur in accidental circumstances that aren't considered unfaithfulness by the couple.
Fisher, H. (2016). Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray (Completely Revised and Updated with a New Introduction). WW Norton & Company.
Sternberg, R. J. (1986). A triangular theory of love. Psychological review, 93(2): 119.