8 Types Of Relationships You Might Find Yourself In Throughout Life

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Love & Relationships

When it comes to finding the right relationship, most of us know that there's trial and error involved in finding the right fit. There's truth to the saying, "You don't know until you try." And while some of us have firm "absolutely nots" to what we won't tolerate, others of us rely on the learning curve that comes with kissing a few frogs before finding the love that loves us back the way we deserve to be loved. Luckily, these days we live in a world where thankfully the types of relationships we have are as varied and multilayered as we are.

On our site, we've covered things like attachment styles and love languages that can predicate how we navigate the relationships we maintain and acquire. So it should be of no surprise that just like there are different strokes for different folks, there are different types of relationships we can have in life too. Below are 8 different relationship types and what they entail.

The Closed Relationship Type


Most of us are most familiar with the closed relationship type, referred to more commonly as "monogamous". As its name suggests, the relationship is "closed", meaning the two people involved agree to love each other and commit to being with only one another exclusively. Partners involved indulge in one another and refrain from doing things in the relationship that threaten the sanctity of their relationship, whatever those relationship boundaries entail.

Given the distrust and infidelity that runs rampant in exclusive relationships, a lot of people against this traditional relationship type feel that it is unnatural, believing that eventually closed relationships leads to feeling suffocated, trapped, or stifled. And what do people do when they feel like they are in a cage? They rebel. Hence, cheating. Still, it's a style that is upheld for a reason and when done right, there's no doubt that there is beauty in longevity and exclusivity if that's the drum beat you wish to march to. And one that's boundaries you respect.

The Open Relationship Type

Relationships like polyamorous relationships or throuples are considered to be open relationships and are the opposite of the previously mentioned closed relationship. In open relationships, the people involved are non-exclusive and are usually sexually non-monogamous. People in open relationships often create their own rules for what the boundaries of their relationship type is so no one open relationship looks exactly the same.

For example, the people involved can decide to be swingers and invite new partners into the bedroom and only engage in sexual activity together. They could also indulge in individual relationships outside of each other, regarding one another as the primary partner, but keeping the door open (oh, puns) to other connections, be it emotional, physical or both. Those examples are just the tip of what an open relationship could look like as there can be different kinds of relationships that fall underneath the open relationship umbrella.

The Dominant-Submissive Relationship Type

kinky tv land GIF by #ImpastorGiphy

Sure, our perception of what a dominant-submissive relationship type might have gotten a little muddled with the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise (cue the eyeroll), but in reality, it's a relationship type that is out here alive and well. And why wouldn't it be? Whips and chains are exciting. However, despite all of the emphasis on sex, a dom-sub relationship is more than the props we're used to seeing. This relationship revolves around one dominant (i.e. sadist) partner and one submissive partner (i.e. masochist). As with any relationship, this partnership comes with its own rules and roles and can be applied to multiple areas of life.

The dominant partner's role is to lead, protect, and act as a guide to the submissive. Conversely, the sub's role is to fulfill the desires of their master, whatever that may be. While it can extend to sex, but the relationship is more so centered on roles and respecting rules that are in place that in turn shows respect to your partner. To learn more about the different roles of BDSM relationships, Lelo has an article you should check out here.

The Codependent Relationship Type

Taking people-pleasing to the next level is people in the codependent relationship type. Signs of a codependent relationship include unhealthy clinginess, planning your life around pleasing the other person, relying on another person for your sense of self, and being a love addict. The relationships itself are characterized as being dysfunctional, emotionally destructive and/or one-sided.

Oftentimes, the giver in the relationship has an anxious attachment style and the taker in the codependent relationship enables the giver's addiction, immaturity, irresponsibility, and/or mental health issues. In all cases, the partners act in a host parasite relationship where the partners need to feel needed by each other.

The Interdependent Relationship Type


The interdependent relationship is perhaps the relationship type we all should aspire to cultivate no matter what the relationship style we are in. What is an interdependent relationship, you ask? Interdependent relationships consist of two fully realized individuals with their own goals, their own dreams, their own hobbies, and ambitions who come together to form a relationship that they pour into but it isn't the epicenter of their existence as beings. Instead, they act as each other's complement.

In these relationships, both partners thrive in a relationship that allows them to be themselves without sacrificing who they are or their identities. Whereas codependent relationships are too reliant on the partner and independent relationships are not reliant enough, interdependent relationships represent the perfect balance between both extremes as it relates to partnerships.

The Long-Distance Relationship Type

Long-distance relationship types are characterized by partners being separated by distance. The romantic relationship unfolds like most other relationship types but sometimes blossoms at full throttle due to the nature of the relationship revolving more around the emotional connection and intimacy outside of the physical.

The distance and the length of the relationship being an LDR vary from couple to couple, but there is typically a lack of in-person face-to-face time. Long-distance relationships tend to work best with individuals who are securely attached but there are a bevy of articles that focus on ways couples in long-distance relationships can make things work, including one from our site: "We Spoke To Three Couples About What It Takes To Make Long-Distance Relationships Work".

The Casual Relationship Type


Casual relationships are relationships that are physical (and sometimes emotional) but typically comes without the expectation of an exclusive or more formal relationship. It has all of the traits of a relationship but without the commitment, which is often the allure in these types of relationships. People are able to get their physical and emotional needs met without putting in the energy and the effort required of a traditional closed relationship.

A casual relationship can encompass casual dating, friends with benefits, hook-ups, one-night stands, f*ck buddies, situationships, etc. Usually, casual relationships are one-sided with one person wanting more from the situation than the other is willing to give, which causes a lot of issues with the viability of this relationship style. For that reason, they are often short-lived. If you have to ask, "Where are we going?" to the person in your life, 7 times out of 10, it's probably just casual boo.

The Toxic Relationship 

Chiiiile, I don't even have to ask anyone to raise their hand for this one. Given the fact that in life and love, it's not abnormal to repeat behaviors we've seen from our elders, we tend to find ourselves in relationships that match dysfunction. Often, toxic relationships don't begin toxic but can become toxic as boundaries are repeatedly crossed and respect goes out the window. Dishonesty occurs, there is a lack of trust, an influx of jealousy, controlling behaviors, and resent among a host of other dysfunctional characteristics.

Toxicity is something that can lend itself to our relationships with family, with friends, and with our work life just as intensely as it can our romantic relationships. The relationships are plagued with unfathomable highs but also debilitating lows and the person riding that roller coaster can become comfortable with the chaos and not seek better for themselves. However, it is important to find and maintain healthy relationships in your life and not be afraid to leave situations when they are no longer serving you.

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I was determined to set the mood and engage in some erotic self-focus by way of masturbation, and I wanted to do so with a little more variety than my wand vibrator provides. My commitment to almost daily masturbation was affirmed even further with the arrival of what would become my new favorite sex toy, the viral Lovers’ Thump & Thrust Dual Vibrator.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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