Lazing around on a Sunday afternoon, your partner and you might be basking in the feeling that you’re the best couple you know and your connection is second to none. Scrolling on your Instagram, you see Brad and Mindy frolicking about on the tennis court, the mini-golf course, and at the art gallery opening! Surely, of all the types of relationships, yours still wears the crown, right?
Why is it that some couples always have to be on the go, and some are happiest when the pizza guy finally rings the doorbell? Why do some couples refer to their partner as their “best friend”, while others can’t seem to keep their hands off each other? You will be astonished at the sheer variety in types of relationships in love and life in general.
Some people are ever so family-oriented, while another lot chooses a bohemian life, making new acquaintances every day. You will notice someone accepting friendship over love. And a few others will perhaps cut off friends from life to spend all the time with their partner. Just as the famous playwright once said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”
The different types of relationships we see might be able to answer all these questions and might even tell you what yours is categorized as. Perhaps after you go through our list of all the different types of relationships, you will be able to honestly answer why you both hate Brad and Mindy so much.
The Different Types Of Relationships
If you’re in a relationship that has lasted 5+ years, think about the kind of people you were when you just started dating each other. Your personality, your relationship, and your weight (sorry) have all changed, right? Similarly, no romantic relationship really stays in a defined category forever.
Even so, putting the relationships into categories might be helpful, if you want to understand different relationship types. Who knows, once you figure out what type your romantic relationship falls into, you might be able to make it better. But you know what they say, you can’t improve on perfection (take this as an apology for the weight comment). Let’s get right into the different relationships, so you can finally give Brad and Mindy’s couple a label while you gossip about them:
1. The not-so-serious relationship
A ‘just for now’ relationship, or a casual relationship, if you may. Both partners usually enjoy each other’s company but don’t want anything serious. A dating relationship like this may arise when two partners want to heal from the throes of a broken love affair, or just want intimacy, without any specific labels and promises.
These types of relationship dynamics will only work out well when both partners are clear about their expectations from the very beginning. Otherwise, it may take the shape of unfortunate deception. Speaking from personal experience, there is one downside of this sort of partnership. The girl or the boy may still fall in love with the other person despite being aware of their stand very clearly.
If you or someone you know have successfully managed to find a fulfilling casual relationship, we’d say you’ve got all the luck in the world. Who even needs to know about the rest of the types of romantic relationships when a ‘just for now’ casual relationship exists? It’s the best of both worlds, which is also why it’s just about as common as unicorns.
2. The all-too-common type of relationship: Long-distance
A long-distance tie-up is like a gynecologist’s clinic. Nobody really wants to be in one but we’ve all made that nervous first trip, fearing the worst. For the uninitiated (or the lucky ones), a long-distance relationship is a type of romantic relationship where your partner doesn’t live in the same city/country as you.
It’s almost a necessary evil, one that lets you know the ups and downs of different relationships, while also making you curse your luck every moment you two are not together. Long-distance relationships can work only when a couple trusts each other, communicates openly, and mutually respects each other. It’s a tough one to be in, for sure, but there are many success stories too.
These types of romantic relationships in life start off on such a filmy note. “We will make this work no matter how far we are.” But my dear readers, let’s keep it a bit realistic to save you all the pain. I, for a fact, know a couple who moved continents apart with no intention of coming back to the country ever again. Now they cannot handle each other dating someone else and neither can they break it off mutually. It’s a miserable intercontinental tug-of-war. So, I would suggest you take this odd only if your goals and life choices align.
3. A codependent relationship
Of all the types of relationships, the couple in a codependent one is usually met with an eye roll by an outsider. You know the kind, always joint at the hip, can’t survive a second without each other. Their social media is always flooded with each other, there’s non-existent personal space in their relationship. For all intents and purposes, it may not be the healthiest dynamic.
If you need a better reference to understand these types of relationships in life, just look at Lily and Marshall from How I Met Your Mother. At a glance, they seem to be the epitome of true love and unrealistic couple goals. But their strong emotional dependency couldn’t let them spend just one summer away.
In some cases, a codependent relationship can also occur from a lack of trust and/or insecurities. Partners may not even know who they are outside of the relationship, which ends up causing huge problems. Psst, perhaps this is the label for Brad and Mindy?
4. An independent relationship
This type of relationship features healthy and positive dynamics. An independent yet romantic relationship is one in which two partners are together but also provide each other an appropriate amount of personal space. Out of all the different types of relationships, this one happens to be the most healthy and practical.
Partners grow and spread their wings outside of the relationship as well, and individuality is well respected in a dynamic like this. There’s enough respect from both partners for individual space, passion, and opinion. An independent relationship is always better than a codependent one since you know what they say about holding onto something you love too tight.
5. A sexual relationship
Friends with benefits, sexually involved couple, sexual partners…call it whatever you want, the premise remains the same. A sexual relationship is one in which two people are sexually involved with each other, with little to no emotional attachment.
People who are in a state of life where they are not ready to deal with the emotional chaos of a relationship or are looking for a rebound may find this type of relationship dynamic very agreeing. If they do happen to have an emotional attachment without being in a relationship, the term “friends with benefits” might be better suited to describe their dynamic.
But just like the famous Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis film about friends with benefits, things do have a tendency to end up being more complicated than fun. Since the biggest charm is that it’s without any commitments and complications, you might know a bunch of Gen Zers actively in or trying to find these types of sexual relationships. But that’s not to say that other generations can’t take part in a purely sexual relationship.
Related Reading: The 8 Types Of Love And What They Mean For You
6. Open relationships
An open relationship features more than one sexual partner, but emotional attachment is usually only reserved for the partner they’re in the relationship with. Simply put, people in an open relationship may have sex with other people. These types of romantic relationships in life are not an ordinary everyday couple’s story. People with an explorer’s soul and a liberating mindset may handle open relationships successfully.
Let’s face it, we mortal beings are burdened with feelings like jealousy and not all of us can overcome it that easily. Mutual consent is the key to open relationship dynamics. Partners in an open relationship can have a very strong emotional bond with each other and they may seem to be no different from the more traditional monogamous relationship, at least on the emotional front. There are types of relationships where, as you can see, monogamy doesn’t always have to feature.
7. Disconnected/distant relationship
Independent relationships are great, but when the personal space gets out of hand, you might just develop a disconnected relationship. Partners may have a lack of emotional or even physical intimacy, and may even be cold to each other. Fearing the devil they don’t know, some people opt to stay in disconnected relationships because of the familiarity it offers and the lack of conflict since there’s literally nothing to fight about.
Like most dysfunctional types of relationships, this one doesn’t happen overnight. The partners may have previously shared a healthy bond, but over time they might have drifted apart. But, by that time, they have grown so habituated with each other that breaking up and getting to know someone from scratch seems too much effort.
As a consequence, they choose to be two strangers in the same relationship. Of all the types of romantic relationships, this one might be the most depressing. Watching a disconnected relationship slowly fade into obscurity is hard on both the partners and the people around them.
8. The romantic relationship that we wish never existed: Toxic relationships
On-again, off-again, he-said-she-said, gaslighting, manipulation, emotional/physical abuse…you get the gist. Toxic relationships bring with them a whirlwind of emotions, and rarely will you ever find someone who can say they haven’t experienced a romantic relationship that wasn’t inherently toxic.
One of the most endured and notorious types of relationship in love, toxic relationships can take many shapes and forms. Since toxic relationships feature manipulation, gaslighting, jealousy, and trust issues, they might even end up causing considerable mental and/or physical harm to a person.
Relationship types like these tell us that we should avoid certain dynamics since the warning signs of a toxic relationship aren’t really visible to us till we realize we’re in the thick of things. However, if you notice any red flags early on, best to keep your guard up. Even better, rather than standing there and tolerating the bullshit and abuse, run the hell out of this partnership. You will not owe anyone anything!
9. The power struggle relationship
A competitive/controlling romantic relationship is one where the two partners are always competing with each other, to establish who has the upper hand in their relationship. Manipulation in a relationship, petty mind games, and belittling each other might ensue, in an attempt to let the partner know who has more power.
Different relationships feature different power plays since there’s not a single relationship that is devoid of it. Although, in a controlling relationship, things may take an ugly turn. Who earns more? Who has the decision-making powers? Who calls the shots? Petty questions such as these may end up dictating the relationship.
If you are the submissive one in this relationship, pretty soon you will realize that you have taken part in a never-ending competition. And there is simply no winning to your dominant partner. No matter how hard you try, your efforts and accomplishments will hardly ever have any value to them.
10. Polyamorous relationships
We cannot leave polyamorous bonds out of the discussion of different types of relationships. By nature, polyamorous relationships are fairly close to the open ones but with an added twist. Unlike open relationships, in polyamory, you have multiple loving and romantic partners. Physical intimacy may or may not happen with one or all of them. It varies from person to person.
There is a beautiful term to define the essence of a polyamorous relationship – ethical non-monogamy, where two partner gets involved in more than one romantic relationship with full consent from both sides. Many couples consider maintaining a hierarchy based on the importance and label one as their primary relationship. Also, just because polyamory allows you to have several partners, doesn’t mean the concept of cheating is not present in this. You should work on certain boundaries and expectations before getting into a polyamorous relationship.
11. The good old platonic love
Do you ever wonder, “Why can’t I find a relationship where I won’t be judged for being me? Where I feel absolute bliss and be safer than anywhere else in this world. Someone who can read my mind before I speak. A relationship where there will be no burden of life-long expectations, and most of all, no wandering lustful eyes. Is it that impossible? Am I asking for a fairy tale?”
No, my friend, what you just described has existed since time immemorial. Of all the types of relationships in life, platonic love is rare and the most precious – perhaps quite underrated too. The modern version of Plato’s concept of love suggests an intensely close bond/relationship/friendship based on pure love and affection.
The key difference between a platonic and romantic relationship is that in platonic bonds, sex is entirely off the table. If you look carefully in the mirror of life, you will probably recognize the person with whom you share this divine relationship, without even knowing about it.
12. The best type of relationship: A harmonious relationship
A harmonious, healthy relationship is the crown jewel amongst the different types of relationships; it’s the one that simultaneously makes people go “Aww!” as well as a little green with envy. Since we don’t live in a utopian world, unconditional, perfect love doesn’t exist. The closest thing to that, however, is a gentle, kind, and loving relationship that features partners who are willing to sacrifice for each other and keep each other’s best interests in mind.
The two partners may feel destined for each other, as though they’re soulmates who share the same values, same goals, same interests. Rarely do such bonds form and flourish, but once they do, they become the shining example of the perfect couple. In fact, for everybody around them, they are the #CoupleGoals!
We hope that of the types of relationships we listed out, yours falls into the healthier categories. If you’re still comparing your relationship to that annoying couple you two can’t stop bitching about, find solace in the fact that every single relationship is different and unique because of the love and values you bring to it. The existence of these different types of relationships should give you an idea of how special and beautiful yours is.