Are you in a vanilla relationship? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Too many questions running through your mind? Don’t worry, we’re here to help you figure out everything you need to know about a vanilla relationship – a term that has taken the relationship world by storm ! Let’s start with the basics.
What Is A Vanilla Relationship?
To understand what a vanilla relationship is and whether your relationship or sex life is vanilla, we need to first understand the term vanilla and where it comes from. Vanilla is a spice that is used to flavor various edibles, most common of which are ice creams and desserts.
People tend to think of vanilla ice cream as plain – it is white, it is basic and it is readily available at every ice cream shop or a supermarket for that matter. But, vanilla is in fact, one of the most complex spices in the world and the second most expensive, next to Saffron. For centuries, vanilla was considered exotic, luxurious, and rare.
The word vanilla in today’s lingo refers to something plain, bland, in other words not exciting. But is it that simple? Does vanilla really mean simple and basic, plain and regular? Well, Yes and no. To understand the term vanilla, think of all the flavors of ice cream available in the market – Vanilla, Chocolate, Blueberry, Caramel, Rum & Raisin, Strawberry, Fig, Butterscotch and countless others. When you are unsure of a flavor, what do you do? Ask for vanilla.
Vanilla, in your mind, is the most basic and regular ice flavor that you can’t go wrong with, whereas chocolate may be too dark and bitter and too milky and sweet for your taste. So yes, vanilla is basic, but it is also dependable and has been around for decades, just the way it is. Vanilla has a reputation of being bland and commonplace but is actually so complex and perfect that ‘no two people taste the same flavor’!
The term vanilla relationship, however, has come to mean a traditional relationship that has nothing unusual about it – no kink, no straying away from the path. The trend these days, however, is to go off the beaten track, and hence, any relationship that is too traditional – even if it is perfectly satisfying and loving – is labelled ‘vanilla’.
Is there any truth to this perception or is it another one of the common sex myths that we continue to believe without evidence or reason? Let’s find out.
What Does It Mean If Someone Is Vanilla?
Vanilla is often used figuratively, and according to Collins Dictionary, if you describe a person or thing as vanilla, you mean that they are ordinary, with no special or extra features. In other words, vanilla is boring. Vocabulary.com suggests that the term vanilla has a “slightly insulting” nuance so it’s always better to refrain from calling anyone vanilla.
Does it mean that if you’re not polyamorous or in an open relationship, you’re vanilla? Are all monogamous relationships vanilla? And, if someone refers to a relationship as vanilla, is it an insult? Yes and no.
Yes, because vanilla is used more often than not by people who are not vanilla themselves or are probably in a phase of experimentation and do not know what they really want. Couples who want a regular vanilla relationship will never think or call their relationship ‘vanilla’. For them it is everything. For all you know, they may be topping up their plain vanilla with chocolate, mint, caramel or blueberry!
No, because you should not take it as an insult even though someone might be saying it to put you down. Be proud and be true to yourself, your partner and your relationship.
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Everything You Need To Know About A Vanilla Relationship
Now that you understand what and who vanilla refers to and how the term has come about, let’s discuss everything you need to know about a vanilla relationship.
1. What is the opposite of vanilla relationships?
The opposite of a vanilla relationship would be any relationship that strays away from the traditional path. For example, an open relationship will be considered the opposite of a vanilla relationship. If we talk in terms of sex, then, vanilla sex is traditional – that is supposed to satisfy our physical and sexual needs. Kinks and other unusual sex practices are the vanilla relationship opposite.
To put things in perspective, let’s use a vanilla relationship Fifty Shades of Grey analogy. The female protagonist Anastasia Steele is pretty vanilla until Christian Grey walks into her life and stirs up a storm of passion, kinks and hardcore BDSM. Nothing about their relationship thereon is vanilla.
2. What is vanilla dating?
Vanilla dating again looks like traditional dating where couples spend time with each other over movies and dinner dates. Men are expected to be chivalrous and women are demure. Now there can be enough variations in vanilla dating depending on the couple. As with grey, there are 50 shades of vanilla as well.
3. What is vanilla sex?
The term vanilla is most commonly being used to denote ‘conventional or ordinary sexual preferences’. This came into being around the 1970s from a notion of whiteness and the common choice of vanilla ice cream. In terms of sex, it denotes that vanilla is boring. Calling someone’s sex life vanilla is being a snob and can be considered an insult.
4. Is vanilla sex boring?
Forget vanilla, ask around, what people really find boring these days in chocolate! Everyone is entitled to their own fancy. Paddy K, a Swedish blogger, says that labeling someone’s sexual preferences, likes or dislikes as boring is a veiled form of snobbery.
According to her, the person resorting to such judgments is insinuating that your sex is boring while min is dark and interesting. It’s the same as ‘wine connoisseurs’ look down upon beer drinkers. A hard rock fan ridiculing someone who prefers pop music. And so on. In the end, there are no better or poor choices. It all boils down to personal preferences and choices.
5. Is it OK to be vanilla?
Yes, it is ok to be vanilla. There is nothing wrong with being conventional. Heterosexual relationships are conventional, aren’t they? You are who you are, never try to change that just because it’s not trendy anymore! There is a reason why vanilla ice cream is the best-selling flavor and is stocked in every ice cream shop. And at the end of the day, vanilla is so versatile that it can change its flavor every day – you just have to top it off with the sauce of the day. You want a vanilla relationship, go for it!
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6. Does wanting a vanilla relationship make me boring?
You have decided you want a regular vanilla relationship. Such a decision comes with clarity. Maybe you have experimented with all flavors and have decided that you like vanilla best or maybe you like vanilla because it’s so versatile and easy to experiment with. Whatever your reason, you’re entitled to it and that doesn’t in any way, make you boring.
However, stereotypes propagated by pop culture references can make it seem that way. If you follow The Bold Type, you’d perhaps remember a scene from season 4 where journalist Jane Sloan has a stark realization about her ‘plain Jane’ ways and exclaims (almost in horror): ‘Am I vanilla? Oh my god, I’m vanilla!’
But pop culture promotes so many other lofty notions of larger-than-life romance that, you know, don’t even come close to what real life has to offer. After all, no guy living in Notting Hill really expects a diva from Beverly Hills to crash on his couch and fall in love with him head over heels.
So, you do you without worrying about being boring, uncool or too mainstream.
7. How to make a vanilla relationship more interesting?
We understand that sometimes, you want to experiment. Vanilla is the most versatile flavor to experiment with! While chocolate might only have a few options like mint and chili to add to it, you can go crazy with vanilla.
Sprinkle chocolate chips on top or sauce it up with another flavor you like. The best part? You can mix in the chocolate and mint into vanilla and enjoy the best of both worlds, if that’s what you want.
The same holds for your vanilla relationship as well. Just because you’re in a monogamous, heterosexual relationship, doesn’t mean you’re doomed to live a missionary-style life. There are so many ways to spice up your romantic life, in and outside the bedroom. All you need is to keep an open mind and take baby steps to explore what you like and what you don’t.
Related Reading: 7 Habits Of Happy Couples In Strong And Healthy Relationships!
8. How should I get my vanilla partner to experiment?
Is only one of you vanilla? You might have a vanilla relationship but you want to spice it up? It’s pretty easy to introduce something more in a vanilla relationship. Go ahead and suggest things that you might want to experiment with and take it slowly. Respect your partner’s wishes and go with the flow.
9. I want a regular vanilla relationship but my partner wants to experiment. What should I do?
Relationships always involve give and take. You need to find the right balance or shall we say your own unique recipe. We understand you want a vanilla relationship but it’s okay to experiment with something new once in a while.
Many people don’t like surprises and get anxious around their birthdays or anniversaries but when done right by an understanding partner, they can be pleasantly surprised! As Christian Grey said (about vanilla relationship, Fifty Shades of Grey), “Most of your fear is in your head.”
Relationships are complicated as it is. Jargons come and go. Remember, it’s always better to be true to yourself and your partner to live a happy and fulfilling life. Today a vanilla relationship might not be so trendy but tomorrow, it might just be the thing people want to get back to. So, find out your true flavor and live it up.