Are You In A Relationship Or Partnership? 6 Pronounced Differences

Love and Romance | | , Copywriter & Sports journalist
Updated On: February 2, 2024
Partnership relationship

Remember the toxic relationship you had in college, or perhaps the 2-week long infatuation you mistook for a blossoming romance? Or maybe you were in a long-term relationship that lasted so long only because neither of you took the initiative to do anything about it. The point is, relationships are fickle. Partnership relationships, on the other hand, are something rather different. 

Relationships can be rushed and can often feel more damaging than nurturing, which might end up putting you off altogether. A few good dates may make you believe you know all you need to about a person. And since cuffing season is almost upon us, the need to find someone might cloud your judgment. 

A partnership, however, is a dynamic that’s much stronger, much more resolute and unwavering. Let’s pin the two against each other, and do a little learning about partnerships vs relationships, so you can figure out which one you’re in. 

6 Pronounced Differences Between Being In A Relationship And Partnership 

No, we don’t mean the kind of partnership relationships where you need to tally balance sheets and design business models; we’re talking about partnerships in love. It’s when two people achieve a dynamic that encompasses the good and the bad, and yet manages to transcend the limitations of fragile relationships.

A partnership relationship understands that love isn’t all it takes. It understands that simply by saying “I do,” the “happily ever after” isn’t automatically guaranteed or achieved. It’s a place of comfort that still makes sure nothing is ever taken for granted. Needless to say, it feels like a positive relationship, and then some.

Confused? Perhaps the following comparison of partnerships vs relationships will help you understand a better. Let’s get right to it. 

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1. Infatuation may incite relationships, but partnerships are steadfast 

Picture this: you meet someone in a quaint coffee shop, you get to talking, and you find out you’re both going to an upcoming concert. You meet there again and can’t stop smiling when you’re with this person. A few good dates later, the giggles and the eye contact have transformed into passionate embraces and a few good sessions of pillow talk. Is this love? It has to be, right? 

Well, not really. Connections such as these, as we’re sure you might’ve experienced in the past, can very easily be incited by infatuation. All it takes is for you to dream up a version of this “perfect” person you’ve met, and you’re now obsessed with a reality your mind has made up. 

Only when they threaten to break your phone because you were talking to an ex do you realize you might be in over your head. When the infatuation slowly fades, all you want is to get out. 

Partnership in love, however, is a far cry from infatuation. This dynamic comes from a place of deep, realistic admiration that holds no unmanageable expectations in your dynamic. Since this sort of dynamic takes time to nurture and establish, the infatuation is a thing of the past and doesn’t interfere with the present status quo. 

If we were to define partnership relationships, it would be as a union of two complete-in-themselves individuals who care for and nurture each other’s needs and feelings. 

2. Relationships can be confusing, a partnership gives you clarity

Ever been with someone where you felt a little more confused with each passing day? Perhaps you were involved in a dynamic where you both decided to “go with the flow,” only to realize the flow was leading you to choppy waters and rocky rapids. 

“Is s/he even serious?” or “Are we exclusive?” or even the classic, “What are we?!” Sound familiar? An acute lack of labels and communication can do that to you. In an attempt to try and figure out how or what the other person feels, you might end up relying on your own guesswork. 

But since you can’t read minds (damn it!) and you never know what the other person is thinking, the whole thing might have left you utterly confused. 

But when we talk about domestic partnership relationships, the only confusion that can plague you is where you’re ordering dinner from (yes, that question never gets solved for anyone). A partnership relationship features clarity since there’s no guesswork involved, and clear communication makes sure each partner knows what the other wants. 

You know what you both want and what the dynamic is giving you, and the only thing that matters now is proving how real they are. 

relationship vs partnership infographic

3. Relationships can feature selfishness, partnerships in love feature selflessness 

Perhaps the biggest partnership vs relationship factor to keep in mind is that relationships can often be selfish in nature, while partnerships are far from it. If you’ve ever said something along the lines of, “I’m not talking to you about this, all I do is sacrifice for us,” then your dynamic at that point in time was probably some way off from a partnership relationship.  

Keeping score, wanting to “win” a fight, valuing one’s own ego more than the relationship; these are all things that are unfortunately far too common. In any given bond, you’re bound to see a bit of selfishness at play. All that’s going to lead to is a sort of love-hate relationship.

However, when the different types of partnership relationships get into a big fight, they realize the importance of putting what they have above their sense of self. They’re willing to be vulnerable, and their actions are driven solely for the benefit of their dynamic and not with a selfish goal in mind. 

Related Reading: Limerence vs Love | Difference And Signs To Know

4. Chasing Instant gratification vs developing shared goals 

Everybody loves to be in love (especially Pisceans). Who wouldn’t? The sudden influx of serotonin, while you’re in a potential lover’s arms, makes you feel like you can stay there until the stars all fade away. 

It comes as no surprise, then, that some relationships might be pursued solely with the promise of instant gratification in return. If you get in a relationship, it’ll make you happy. Or at least that’s what all the movies say, since being single is the worst possible thing anyone can do. 

In a partnership relationship, being motivated solely by instant gratification is non-existent. In this relationship, the two individuals have come together to nurture each other’s feelings and needs, promising to continue doing so with their shared goals. 

Having clarity on the future is extremely important for any couple. If you’re reading this point and contemplating the partnership vs relationship scenario to figure out which one’s yours, here’s a very simple question to help you out: where do you see yourselves in 10 years? 

A bond that can be truly defined as a partnership in love won’t have a problem answering that question. Perhaps it might have been discussed in the past, but if this question made you realize one of you wants a beach house in Miami while the other wants suburban bliss, you know you need to talk about a few things. Lest yours end up like a one-sided dynamic.

5. A house of straws vs a house of bricks

Did we just use a fable for kids to discuss partnerships vs relationships? Why yes, yes we did. What we mean by a house of straws is that relationships, often, can break at the first sign of trouble. 

How many times have you heard a couple say something along the lines of, “Oh, we never fight.” And how many times have a couple like that actually stuck around? Not much, right? Relationships are fickle, and the problems they must navigate can end up being the cause of their demise. 

If you’re still looking to define a partnership relationship, it’s one that doesn’t let petty issues get in the way. One that features the fundamentals of any relationship: unwavering trust, mutual respect, honest communication, and lots of patience. 

A domestic partnership relationship isn’t one that makes you ask the couple, “How are you guys doing?” with a slight sympathetic tilt to your head. It’s one that makes you go, “I hope someday, I can have what you two have.”

Related Reading: The 5 Types Of Love Languages And How To Use Them For Happy Relationships

6. Relationships can be fueled by feelings, partnerships in love seek a greater calling 

You’ve probably experienced or seen a relationship that was kept alive solely because of the sex. Or perhaps one that lasted as long as it did because one of them felt they “needed” the other person to feel whole. 

Perhaps it’s the sense of security that’s keeping two people in a relationship together. Against the horrid, infamous state of being single, that is. But in a partnership relationship, the temporary feelings that we listed out don’t play a role in its survival. 

The partners are not escaping or chasing a certain feeling, they’re together to achieve a greater sense of fulfillment. They strive to help each other become the best versions of themselves and in the process, realize the full potential of their relationship too. That’s all it’s going to take to make the relationship last forever.

So, there you have it. The differences between partnerships vs relationships listed out for you. While it’s easy to read through everything and say you want to be in a partnership, sometimes being able to achieve that also means working on yourself to make sure you’re capable of being in one. 

If this article has made you realize you’d like to go from a “fickle” relationship to something that’s a lot more fulfilling, Bonobology has a multitude of experienced counselors who’d love to help you get ready for one of the most satisfying equations you’ll ever be a part of.

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