Relationships, whether a one-night stand or a lifetime commitment, are one of the best parts of being an adult. They’re fun. They’re exciting. They’re the one thing you want when you’re done chasing your career or hitting your milestones. Relationship types, though, are what make matters more complicated.
Where do we even start? Relationships refer to the connection you share with someone, for one reason or another. Romantic relationships are the ones we’re most concerned with, but we can share a relationship with friends and family, too.
Relationships don’t always presuppose physical intimacy, emotional attachment, or commitment. People engage in different types of relationships with different characteristics, rules, and regulations. Friendships, family relationships, romantic relationships, and acquaintanceships are the most prominent ones.
We’d argue that healthy relationships offer you a healthy balance of give-and-take, support, security, care, and growth, but not all relationships are like that. What’s healthy for you might not be healthy for your partner, and vice versa.
Committed, monogamous relationships are the most socially accepted relationships, but that doesn’t mean that they’re the best fit for you or your partner. We’re focusing on romantic relationships, the breadth of which extends beyond traditional values and dynamics.
Whether you’re trying to figure out where you stand with a special someone or scrolling through endless possibilities that come with different romantic relationships, here’s a look at romantic relationship types you need to know about ASAP. What are you waiting for?
What are romantic relationship types you need to know about ASAP?
1. The first
We thought we’d reserve a separate spot for your first relationship because your first relationship determines what the rest of your relationships are going to look like – sort of.
Before entering your first relationship, you probably think you know everything you need to know. But when you enter a relationship for the first time, you’re new to everything – you haven’t got anything figured out.
You don’t know what you’re doing but you’re trying your hardest to figure out how to communicate your needs, how to trust your partner, and how to behave. Your first relationship marks the beginning of your adult life and sets the tone for the rest of your relationships.
We mentioned beforehand that monogamous relationships are the most socially accepted relationships out there, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Within a monogamous relationship, two people agree to commit to one another, both emotionally and physically, and to follow the “first comes love, then comes marriage” path. What does that mean?
Most monogamous relationships strive toward marriage as the end-game because the life-long commitment reflects what monogamous relationships are about.
Marriages do sometimes come with open relationships and polyamorous agreements, too, but that’s not the case with marriages formed between two monogamous partners. Modern relationships are great because you and your partner get to define them – do whatever you want to do.
Monogamy might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s OK. Non-monogamous relationships serve as an umbrella term for relationships that consist of more than two partners, whether that’s to fulfill physical or emotional needs.
Open relationships, polyamorous relationships, and friends with benefits are oftentimes non-monogamous. Non-monogamous relationships work for people who need different people to cater to different needs – sort of.
Within a non-monogamous relationship, two partners agree to either have more than one partner or to have one partner but have physical contact with other people as well.
Consensually non-monogamous relationships are healthy although they don’t follow the same “first comes love, then comes marriage” path.
4. Long-distance relationship
When you find your one true love, someone you connect with, or someone you can’t imagine your life without, you probably don’t want to let your only opportunity for love pass you by simply because the two of you don’t live in the same place.
It’s pretty self-explanatory, but long-distance relationships are relationships between two people who are not physically in the same location. It’s possible to still have a happy, healthy relationship even if you only see each other a few times a month or even a year.
It’s easier than ever to stay in touch thanks to FaceTime, texting, and social media, but long-distance relationships require a lot of time, effort, and energy, nonetheless.
5. Rebound relationship
When we’re discussing relationship types, we can’t forget about rebound relationships. Rebound relationships refer to relationships that happen shortly after a bad breakup and serve the purpose of filling that void.
Rebounds are reactionary relationships convenient to escape negative emotions that come with a bad breakup – pain, hurt, grief, and loss. What’s interesting about rebound relationships is the fact that they’re oftentimes deemed unhealthy because they’re known to stem from a place of miscommunication.
Whether you fail to mention your expectations to your partner or you completely omit the fact that you’re looking for a rebound relationship, you might be the one partly to blame for the bad rep. Rebound can be healthy, but only when both partners are on the same page about being in a rebound relationship.
6. Friends with benefits
Whether you’re a “Friends With Benefits” enthusiast or a “No Strings Attached” devotee, you might know a thing or two about the popular relationship type.
Friends with benefits are non-committal and non-monogamous, and that might be exactly what you’re on the hunt for. Flirty friends often become friends with benefits when they’re on the same page about what they do or do not expect from each other.
By definition, friends with benefits are two people who take their friendship to the next level by agreeing to a physical relationship without the commitment that comes with a “regular” relationship.
It’s totally cool to pursue that type of relationship, but you do need to underline certain rules and regulations from the get-go to ensure the two of you are on the same page. It’s not unusual for friends with benefits to develop feelings for each other.
7. Controlling relationship
Controlling relationships refer to relationships where one partner exerts control over the other, whether that’s by monitoring and dictating different aspects of their life or insisting on explicit rules, standards, and boundaries.
Controlling relationships can cause the other partner to experience frustration, hopelessness, and even a need to find solace elsewhere. By definition, controlling relationships are unhealthy. But, there’s always a but when we’re talking about relationship dynamics.
Controlling relationships can be healthy when there’s consent by both partners – when one partner takes the dominant role and the other takes the submissive role, a controlling relationship can fulfill the needs of both partners.
8. Clingy relationship
Clinginess is a consequence of insecure attachment in relationships that stems from childhood trauma, relationship trauma, or overall insecurities.
Clingy relationships happen when one partner showcases clingy or needy behaviors. Calling or texting nonstop, monitoring the other partner, feeling threatened by the other partner’s friends, coworkers, or family, or even trying to force the other partner to do something they’re not comfortable doing.
Acceptance and affection are a big part of every relationship, but people who are clingy or needy don’t feel comforted or reassured when someone cares for them, so they keep reaching out for more.
Additionally, clingy relationships are oftentimes based on fear – clingy people fear that they will be abandoned because that’s what happened to them with a previous partner or even a parent. At the end of the day, clingy relationships are unhealthy, and clingy people need help.
9. Codependent relationship
Clingy relationships and codependent relationships might both be based on fear, but they’re not the same.
Codependent relationships take things to a whole different level. In a codependent relationship, you rely on your partner for happiness, approval, and love, and your needs are determined by your partner.
You feel like you’re swallowed by your relationship and like nothing else you do in life matters as much as your relationship. You become so wrapped up in your relationship that you lose yourself completely.
Codependent relationships typically entail that one partner gives much more to the relationship than the other. One partner provides the other with attention and affection, and the other takes, takes, and then takes some more without giving anything in return.
It’s a dysfunctional relationship, for sure, but it’s one you can get out of. It’s a matter of figuring out what you’re looking for in a relationship and what your partner is giving you.
When you and your partner decide to take the next step in your relationship and move in together, you’re probably going to have the time of your life. That is until the slumber-party-every-night phase wears off.
Now, that doesn’t happen to every relationship, but many relationships turn stagnant at one point or another. Cohabitation refers to a relationship between two partners that comes to be after that honeymoon phase wears off and they’re stuck feeling like roommates – and nothing more.
Whether that’s because they’ve become too comfortable with each other or because they’ve turned a blind eye to intimacy, cohabitation is a real problem that needs to be addressed ASAP. Sometimes, cohabitation is a phase that can be worked through.
Other times, however, the relationship ends because the two don’t know how to get out of the slump.
11. Independent relationship
Whether you’re in a long-term relationship or a brand-new one, you and your partner might need some time to figure out the dos and don’ts of your relationship.
Maybe the two of you agree to spend every night together without exception. Maybe you agree that you aren’t allowed to go out without each other, no matter what. Maybe you decide that you prefer for both of you to have a sense of autonomy, explore your own interests and pursuits, and prioritize alone time.
What do we mean by that? An independent relationship is the opposite of a codependent relationship which means that in an independent relationship, the two of you are separate entities with a life outside your relationship. You love each other. You rely on each other. You’re a team.
But when you define your relationship based on relationship types, you know that you’re in an independent relationship because you respect each other’s interests outside the relationship.
12. Interdependent relationship
We’d argue that interdependent relationships are even better than independent relationships.
Why’s that? When you compare the two, you might think they’re the same. Interdependent relationships refer to a dynamic between two partners that emphasizes the importance of their emotional connection while keeping in mind who they are as individuals outside their relationships.
In independent relationships, the two partners might put their own needs above the needs of their relationship. But the difference between the two doesn’t matter if you’re not trying to prove a point or trying to define your relationship.
Interdependent relationships are a great way to create a sense of balance between your relationship and your life outside the relationship.
13. Monotonous relationship
A monotonous relationship might be more of a relationship phase or dynamic rather than a relationship type, but we wanted to touch upon the fact that most relationships head that way sooner or later.
When you’re at the beginning of the relationship, you make an effort to make everything more fun and exciting – from planning dates and surprising your partner with cute gifts to going on weekend getaways and throwing romantic gestures.
When the novelty wears off, though, the two of you might notice that you became too comfortable with each other and that you allowed your boring routines to swallow your relationship.
With that come the unpleasant conversations, the fights, and the “it’s your fault because you never want to do anything” conversations. And that’s what monotouns relationships are.
14. Forced relationship
Forced relationships are the worst, and they’re oftentimes a consequence of monotonous relationships. A forced relationship happens when both partners cling to the concept of being together although they’re better off apart.
Whether they’ve grown apart over time or they’ve become completely different people with different priorities, they’re aware that their relationship came to an end but they’re afraid to admit that. Maybe they’re forced to be together because of their children or their families.
Maybe they’re forced to be together because of societal expectations, fear of loneliness, or lack of alternative options. Whatever the case might be, forced relationships are bad for everyone and that’s why you need to consider couples therapy, divorce, or a breakup.
15. Karmic relationship
We need to get a little bit more spiritual to explain what karmic relationships are. A karmic relationship, from a spiritual point of view, is a type of soulmate relationship. A temporary relationship that is meant to teach you, push you in the right direction, and help you grow, a karmic relationship isn’t what it seems.
A relationship with your soulmate might sound like a life-long commitment, but a karmic relationship isn’t meant to last – it’s meant to allow you to learn from each other, grow, and move on from each other.
Actually, the idea behind a karmic relationship is that the two of you agreed before your souls reached Earth, to help each other on your respective paths. And that’s what a karmic relationship’s purpose in your life is.
16. Committed relationship
When you’re in a committed relationship with someone, you’ve officially defined your relationship.
Committed relationships are different from monogamous relationships because they don’t necessarily need to happen between two people, but we do need to mention that committed, monogamous relationships are the most common and socially acceptable.
Committed partners are on the same page about their relationship dynamic. Contrary to what you might have heard, committed partners typically agree to meet each other’s friends and family, attend weddings together, and plan a future together.
Committed relationships are serious, and they’re typically a step toward marriage.
17. Casual relationship
A casual relationship is a relationship where the two of you are going out on dates, spending time together, and fulfilling each other’s emotional and physical needs without the commitment of a “regular” relationship.
Casual relationships are consensual and they’re great for people who aren’t looking for a long-term commitment but are looking for company.
Contrary to popular belief, casual relationships are fun and exciting, and they’re a great way to go about relationships when you’re open and honest about your expectations. Casual relationships can become a burden when you decide not to be clear and candid about your boundaries.
18. Toxic relationship
We’ve all heard of toxic relationships, right? When we’re going on and on about relationship types, we can’t forget about toxic relationships because they’re much more common than you might think. What’s a toxic relationship?
When your partner makes you feel like you’re to blame for everything that’s wrong in your relationship, that’s toxic. When you find yourself nitpicking everything you said or did that made your partner act up, verbally or physically abuse you, or embarrass you in front of your friends, that’s toxic.
By definition, a toxic relationship is a problematic relationship in which one or more partners are getting hurt as a result of being in that relationship.
19. Transactional relationship
A transactional relationship is a relationship in which partners treat everything that goes on in the relationship like a business deal. A partner in a transactional relationship never acts when there’s nothing to gain. What do we mean by that?
Maybe you cook for your partner only when you’re given a present afterward. Maybe your partner cleans the apartment only when you agree to let him watch the game with his friends. In a transactional relationship, you always have to give something to receive something in return.
20. Open relationship
Open relationships seem to have a myriad of definitions, but most people agree that open relationships consist of consensual casual relationships that happen outside of a committed core relationship.
What that means is that one or both partners seek emotional and physical fulfillment outside the relationship – with the emphasis on the word “consent.” Open relationships work because both partners agree on terms and conditions they’re comfortable with.
On the other hand, open relationships walk on a slippery slope because one partner might be compelled to meet the needs of the other partner even when they’re not comfortable with the concept of an open relationship.
21. Platonic relationship
Platonic relationships are different from romantic relationships, but there’s a bond that connects the two. Platonic relationships are relationships where two people share a bond but do not share a physical relationship.
Defined by a sense of deep friendship and love, platonic relationships don’t necessarily need to be romantic relationships. Romantic relationships, on the other hand, share the same bond but are typically physically intimate, too.
A situationship is another non-commital relationship we need to talk about. Whether you’re afraid of commitment because you went through a bad breakup or you’re simply looking for a “friends with benefits” or a “casual relationship” type of relationship dynamic, you might want to look into situationships.
This is a type of romantic arrangement between two people who want to go out, have fun, and fulfill each other’s emotional and physical needs without fully committing to each other.
A situationship often happens when it’s too early to have the “what are we” talk and the two people are comfortable with not defining the relationship, yet.
23. On-and-off relationship
On-and-off relationships are everywhere these days and we’re more than excited to get into the nitty gritty and help you understand them better.
Within an on-and-off relationship, two people can’t seem to decide whether they’re better off together or apart. Because of that, they’re known to break up and come back together more times than you can count.
Whether that’s because they’re obsessed with each other or because they can’t stand the thought of each other, we don’t know that. We do, however, know that on-and-off relationships aren’t the healthiest relationships you can be in. You’re better off on your own if you can’t figure out how to be together.
24. One-night stand
Whether you’ve gone through a bad breakup or you’re adamant about staying single for the time being, you might be tempted to have a one-night stand with a stranger.
One-night stands are popular because they’re consensual, non-committal encounters that serve the purpose of fulfilling your needs for the night – and that’s it.
When you engage in a one-night stand, you don’t need to get to know each other, have the “what are we” talk, or figure out the logistics of your relationship. What a relief!