Nowadays, people use the word “relationship” so much that it is mostly assumed to have one universal definition. In reality, though, the word encompasses such a huge variety of kinds of human connections, both romantic and non-romantic, and it is likely that no two people share the exact same kind of understanding of what defines a relationship. So, here’s a cheat sheet of the basics.
A relationship is any sort of association or bond between people, whether intimate, platonic, positive, or negative, says Shivani Sadhoo. Generally, when people talk about “being in a relationship,” the term is referencing a particular type of romantic relationship involving both emotional and physical intimacy, some level of ongoing commitment, and monogamy (i.e., romantic and sexual exclusivity, wherein members do not have this sort of relationship with anyone else). That said, romantic relationships can take several different forms, from marriage to casual dating to ethical non-monogamy.
There are 4 basic forms of relationships, they are family, friendships, acquaintanceships and romantic. Few more forms of relationships are work, teacher/pupil, and community or group relationships. A few of them may overlap and coincide with each one. For instance, two individuals can be both colleagues as well as close friends.
But, here what India’s top marriage counselor and relationship expert Shivani Misri Sadhoo shares is about the types of romantic relationships and how to define yours. So, here it goes.
Dating is the act of intentionally spending time with a person to get to know them better, have fun together, and enjoy being romantic. Dating could sometimes be about seeing if there’s probability of a more long-term relationship, or it can merely be about having fun without expectations for the future, which is at times called casual dating.
Not everyone agrees on what stage of commitment is implied when two individuals say they’re “dating.” Some people just use the term when there is already a defined, committed relationship in place, while others use the term to mean they are just exploring to see if there’s relationship potential.
In the context of couples, the terms “in a relationship” generally means being in a committed, long-term romantic relationship. A committed relationship is one where two people agree to continue being in a relationship for the foreseeable future. There is an understanding that the two will continue to spend time together, work on enhancing their relationship with each other, and continue nurturing their bond. People in committed relationships might choose to use identifiers such as a boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner to signify their relationship to others.
In traditional monogamous relationships, being in a relationship also means that a couple will be romantically and sexually exclusive—that is, they would not have any other romantic or sexual partners other than each other. In non-monogamous relationships, exclusivity isn’t needed
Marriage is one form of committed relationship wherein a couple publicly vows to live together and forms a legally binding union.
A casual relationship is the one where two individuals may be dating, regularly spending time together, and engaging in romantic or sexual activities—but sans any expectations for the relationship to last into the future. These sorts of relationships are generally, more situational and short-term, and they might or might not be exclusive.
People in casual relationships generally do like each other and are attracted to each other, though there might not be an intense emotional bond or desire to deepen the connection. Whereas people in committed relationships might see each other as life partners, people in casual relationships might not be as integrated into each other’s lives. They typically will not use terms like boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner.
This relationship is one where two individuals spend time together majorly to have physical intimacy with each other. They may see each other regularly for sex, or they might have sex once and never see each other again. They perhaps like each other and enjoy each other’s company, but they are not interested in a romantic union with each other. Usually, there is no emotional connection, or the connection is distinctly platonic or friendly, like in a “friends with benefits” situation.
A situationship is a romantic relationship that has not been explicitly defined, normally by omission. The relationship might have several of the same qualities as a committed relationship, a casual relationship, or dating, but the people involved have merely not put labels on it—usually intentionally, whether that is to avoid making things complicated, because they are still figuring out what they want from each other, or because they are too afraid to bring up the “DTR talk” (conversation defining the relationship).
Normally, situationships usually have more emotional involvement than a friends-with-benefits scenario but not the explicit romantic feelings and commitment of a committed relationship.
While relationships sans labels work great for some people, situationships can mostly happen because the two people are not on the same page about what they want or because there is an assumption that the relationship would be short-term enough for it not to matter.
Ethical non-monogamy is a wide umbrella term for any relationship where individuals can have multiple romantic and sexual partners at the same time. It includes polyamory, open relationships, relationship anarchy, and several other types of relationships between more than two individuals. Ethically non-monogamous relationships can be casual, committed, open, exclusive, dating or sex-only, or some combination of these categories, and people in these sort of relationships might or may not use terms such as boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner to describe each other.
However according to psychology there are 7 kinds of relationships
· Infatuation: just passion
· Friendship: only intimacy
· Empty love: commitment solely
· Romantic love: passion and intimacy
· Fatuous love: passion and commitment
· Companionate love: intimacy with commitment
· Consummate love: passion, intimacy with commitment
How to define your relationship
When it comes to dating, romantic relationships, and sex, it is essential for partners to be transparent about what form of relationship they want and to ensure they are on the same page.
Here are a few things to ask each other to define the relationship:
a) What do you want from this relationship? Something casual, in-the-moment? Something more future-based? Not certain yet and simply want to explore for now?
b) Are you looking for a long-term relationship? If yes, do you see potential here?
c) Are you seeing another person?
d) Are there any romantic feelings here? Are both interested in exploring those feelings, or just want to keep things more casual?
e) How frequently do you both want to talk and see each other?
Well, these questions could feel intimidating or too serious, looking to avoid these questions means you’re simply choosing to make assumptions rather than seeking the truth.
People form commitments and expectations even sans labels. Not talking about the terms of your relationship does truly not mean you don’t have one.
And bear in mind, that defining the relationship does not mandatorily mean you need to enter into a serious or committed relationship. Defining the relationship is just about clarity.
Some people might choose not to label their relationship because they are afraid of being tied down too early or in a place where they feel trapped. However, one needs to understand that you maintain complete autonomy of yourself in every relationship you are in, and you are the one who is responsible for communicating what you require, what you want, and what you do not want. So, if you feel you are at a place where you cannot do not wish to date one person exclusively, that must be communicated to your partner so that he/she can make a decision about whether that works for them or not.