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
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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Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Decisiveness is arguably a trait of nature vs. nurture. When you’ve been brought up in an environment that penalizes children for taking pride in themselves, it can manifest in your adult life in ways that fly under the radar. You may find yourself avoiding the spotlight, having the fear of being the center of attention, or shrinking yourself to make others feel more comfortable.
If you’ve found yourself adopting an agreeable, self-sacrificing personality, there may be a psychological reason behind it, and it’s called “echoism.”
What Is Echoism?
Echoism refers to a concept in psychology related to the patterns of behavior and traits exhibited by individuals who may be on the opposite end of the spectrum from narcissism. While narcissism is characterized by an excessive focus on oneself and a desire for admiration, echoism is considered the opposite, where individuals tend to be excessively focused on others, often at the expense of their own needs and desires.
The term was introduced by clinical psychologist, Craig Malkin, in his book Rethinking Narcissism and delved into the topic through additional articles for Psychology Today. As the author explains, “Where narcissists are addicted to feeling special, echoists are afraid of it. In the myth of Narcissus, Echo, the nymph who eventually falls madly in love with Narcissus, has been cursed to repeat back the last few words she hears. Like their namesake, echoists definitely struggle to have a voice of their own.”
People who exhibit echoist traits often prioritize the needs and feelings of others over their own to an extreme degree and can struggle with asserting themselves, setting boundaries, and may be overly accommodating to others.
Traits of an Echoist
The fear of coming off as “too needy” or expecting too much are driving forces in an echoist’s life. Echoists may go to great lengths to avoid conflict, even if it means suppressing their opinions. This can result in the individual having low self-esteem and regularly downplaying their own worth since they may not feel deserving of attention or recognition.
According to Healthline, individuals with elevated levels of echoism may:
How To Heal and Work Through Echoism
Identifying the cause of one’s echoism is an important step to healing the behavior. Experts say that this trait can develop in childhood when dealing with parents who struggle with emotional regulation or pass down their self-effacing values to their children.
In your early years, you may have coped with stress by soothing your parents at the expense of expressing your own needs. The constant focus on meeting others' needs could then leave little room to voice their own desires, leading to a loss of connection with one’s own aspirations.
Fearful that asking for things might upset the parents, young echoists may have found that avoiding burdening their parents was the best course of action, even at their own expense.
Taking the necessary action to heal echoism means developing a more balanced and assertive approach to relationships, where you prioritize your own needs without completely sacrificing your consideration for others. While it may take time to adjust to the change in behavior, there are steps to take in the process:
1. Set Healthy Boundaries
There’s nothing fun about setting boundaries, but they’re necessary to determine what is and is not okay in our relationship. When you set boundaries, we’re nothing just teaching others how to treat us, we’re teaching ourselves what we deserve. Practice saying "no" as a complete sentence and learn to establish and communicate healthy boundaries with those around you.
2. Practice Being Assertive
Take small moments throughout your daily interaction to practice speaking up for yourself and expressing your opinions and needs in an assertive, yet respectful way. Put your communication skills to the test and work to effectively convey your thoughts and feelings with close friends, family, or even co-workers when the situation presents itself.
3. Embody A “Star” Mentality
Going years denying yourself the joy of prioritizing your own needs and desires can take time to correct. Through your process to heal your echoism, remember that you are worthy of being seen and having your needs and desires heard. Gradually expose yourself to positive and affirming attention. When someone pays you compliments, hold it and say thank you without feeling the need to diminish it.
4. Learn To Love What You Like
An aspect of echoism is adopting people-pleasing tendencies, but it’s okay to be disagreed with if your preferences don’t match those around you. Our differences are what makes us who we are, and altering that to appease others only makes us feel smaller in the long run. Take time to identify and pursue your own personal goals, and have fun exploring your own interests and passions.
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