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Navigating romantic relationships in 2021 can be tough. There are so many different dating situations, it can be hard to keep up! Learn more here.

5 Types of Romantic Relationships

It seems everywhere you turn, society puts another label on a new relationship. Situationship. Relationship. FWB. Poly. It’s hard to keep track of them, especially if you’re new to the relationship scene. If you’re trying to figure out what you’re looking for or possibly trying to define something you already have, it’s essential to know the basics of romantic relationships.

Some relationships are defined with strict rules and roles. Other connections are more fluid and transparent. They’re not all defined equally, but they’re all valid. 

So, where do you begin? Let’s take a look at five types of relationships and how partners often view them. Remember, every relationship is unique. Some may easily define their relationships. 

Other partners may struggle with trying to put a definition or label on the dynamic. What’s most important is that both parties accept where they are without force, coercion, or deception.

Dating Romantic Relationship

Dating is often the initial block in any romantic relationship, particularly if you’re hoping to see what’s out there. Many times, people will date multiple people at a time. There’s no hard and fast rule on how many people you can see while in the initial dating stages; some will only date one at a time, others seemingly have a Rolodex of people. 

The most important part of the dating phase is to be honest, and up front about your intentions. If you’re not looking for anything serious, share that with people you’re seeing. Likewise, if you’re seeing other people simultaneously, share that too. 

It’s important to understand that not everyone considers the term “dating” as a singular idea; some may see it as a serious commitment, while others may see it as no big deal. 

Friends with Benefits or Mutually Beneficial Relationships

This romantic relationship category is for those who want a romantic or sexual relationship without the standard strings attached. A friend with benefits will often call a specific person if they’re lonely or wanting affection but will consider themselves single if asked. 

These are often mutually discussed terms between the two people but are considered a romantic relationship. The terms of the relationship often include having romantic or sexual connections without having the status of a traditional monogamous relationship. 

Defining the terms of a friend with benefits is essential, especially if you intend to have more than one. Always be clear about where you stand with an individual so you don’t potentially hurt someone in the process. 

A mutually beneficial relationship is another common type of arrangement. These individuals are typically givers at heart and want to help others succeed in life. Commonly, women will typically find themselves in these arrangements when they’re looking for a romantic relationship with the benefit of financial security. 

Men are often happy to spoil their partner, most commonly in a monetary fashion. A sugar daddy will very often find one or two women to spend their time with, whether it’s dating or chatting back and forth. Like other relationships, the two parties will likely decide on how the relationship will unfold, what level of attachment they require, and whether they’re going to be exclusive or see other people.

Committed Relationship

Also known as monogamous, these relationships are typically long-term and committed to one another. The boundaries of this relationship are defined between both partners but will include no outside influences like flirting, affairs, or sexual activities with other people. 

Both partners agree to remain together, date, nurturing their connection, or growing their relationship together. One example of this relationship would be traditional marriage. The couple vows to stay together for the foreseeable future as a united union. 

Commonly, identifying names will come along with committed relationships. These include partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife. 

Polyamorous Relationships

As an umbrella term, ethical non monogamy encompasses many different relationship definitions that are mutually defined and agreed upon ahead of time. Most often used as the term for “multiple people in relationships,” it’s important to remember that not every dynamic is the same. Some people will have specific terms and agreements for any partners outside of their relationship. 

This dynamic can include dating-only partners, sex-only partners, and any level of exclusivity. The basic idea behind the term ethical non monogamy is that both partners are aware and approve of the relationship dynamic. Couples in a polyamorous relationship can still face cheating, lying, or insecurity issues, depending on what the preestablished conditions were in the relationship.

The Situationship

For that individual who hates defining a relationship, the situationship might be the answer. This relationship can include casual, committed, or friend with benefits relationships; but is often seen between the dating and the relationship phase. More often than not, a situationship will involve two people that hate defining relationships. 

These relationships are usually intentional, trying to avoid making things complicated, trying to determine what they want from one another, or simply don’t know how to define the relationship in general.

These relationships will often have a stronger emotional connection than the friends with benefits dynamic but will fail to become deeply attached like a committed partnership. For some, the situation can be the perfect definition for what they need. 

Most people, however, find themselves in a situationship when there’s a difference in what both partners want. Typically, one partner wants something serious and committed, while the other isn’t wanting to become exclusive. In these situations, someone is likely to get hurt, particularly the person wanting more from the partnership. 

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