What Type of Romantic Relationship Is Right for You?
When it comes to romantic relationships, one size does not fit all. There are many different types of romantic relationships out there that can appeal to different people at different stages in their life. Life stages and specific life events play a huge role in what type of relationships we are open to. For example, a huge amount of maturity is required to make long distance relationships (aka, LDR) work, meaning that not every couple or every individual can commit to an LDR at any given time in their life. That being said, some people are never open to long distance relationships or casual relationships, while others are never open to serious monogamous relationships.
Acknowledging that there are different types of romantic relationships, learning the pros and cons of each relationship, and thinking critically about your wants and needs can help you understand what type of romantic relationship is right for you. The next step is finding a partner that is looking for the same type of romantic relationship, or discussing your romantic relationships with your current partner to make sure that you are on the same page. Here are a few different types of romantic relationships, and the pros and cons of each type:
In an independent relationship, both partners can function independently of the other. Partners in an independent relationship tend to spend a significant amount of time away from their partner, and tend to have a lot of personal hobbies that do not involve their partner. People in these types of relationships tend to be very secure and trusting of their partner, and are not suspicious of time spent apart, or interest in pursuing different hobbies. Independent relationships work best when BOTH partners are independent people. Two independent people tend to be more comfortable letting their partner’s do as they please, and understand that in order to have their independence, they need to afford their partner independence. One downside of independent relationships is a lack (or perceived lack) of compromise or interest in the other person. If one partner is constantly doing their own thing, and not engaging with the other person’s interests or preferences, their partner can start to feel overlooked or as if they are not a priority to their partner. This can be exacerbated if one partner is an independent person, while the other is more codependent. In independent relationships, it is important to discuss each partner’s needs so that no one feels overlooked or undervalued. A degree of independence is important in every relationship, but it is important to keep in mind that every relationship requires some codependency, empathy and compromise. The key to a successful independent relationship is striking a balance between independence and investment in your partner and the relationship.
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The opposite of an independent relationship, is a codependent relationship. In a codependent relationship, partners are heavily reliant on one another. People in this type of relationship may feel as if they couldn’t survive without their partner, and prefer to spend the majority of their time with their partner. People in a codependent relationship are very good at compromise, and tend to compromise a lot so that they can do everything as a unit (that is unless their interests are so similar that they do not need to compromise). Codependent couples tend to be very in-tune with one another. While it is good to depend on your partner for some things, there is such a thing as being too codependent. Oftentimes, when people prioritize their relationship and their partner’s needs, they lose touch of their own wants and needs. People in codependent relationships run the risk of giving up so much of their independence that they lose their identity in the relationship.
No matter how much you love spending time with your partner, it’s important to take time apart from them so that you can check-in with yourself and evaluate your needs as an individual. Taking space away from your partner is healthy and totally necessary from time to time. Taking space as you need it will also encourage your partner to take space as well, which will help them become more independent. In a codependent relationship, it’s important to encourage a degree of independence in both partners so that people can maintain their sense of self even when in a relationship. Codependent relationships can become possessive and jealous if partners do not establish healthy boundaries. Just like in independent relationships, people in codependent relationships need to strike a balance between independence and investment in the relationship. There are ways to have a healthy codependent relationship, so long as both partner’s individual wants and needs are met.
An open romantic relationship, also known as a non-monogamous or polygamous relationship, is a relationship in which partners are free to have romantic or sexual relationships with other people. Open relationships can often be viewed as the extreme version of independent relationships. Both partners are so independent from one another and not dependent on the relationship that they are comfortable exploring other relationships on the side. Every open relationship is unique and open couples have different rules for what is and is not acceptable in the relationship. For example, some couples are fine with partners dating other people while they are in the ‘main relationship’. Other couples are not comfortable with romantic relationships outside of the ‘main relationship’, and only allow sexual or physical relationships on the side. Other people in open relationships do not have a ‘main relationship’ and instead put similar amounts of time and energy into many different relationships. Open relationships are for people that do not believe in monogamous relationships, and want to explore romance and sexuality with many different people. Open relationships are also great for people that are attracted to a range of different sexual orientations. Alternatively, open relationships are a great option for people that do believe in monogamy, but are not ready to commit to one person at a given time.
Some monogamous relationships “open up” for a period of time (due to physically being long distance or a metaphorical, emotional distance) so that partners are able to explore the sexual and emotional intimacy outside the relationship. Successful open relationships require a lot of trust and open communication, but can afford partners a huge amount of romantic and sexual satisfaction. While there are a lot of positives associated with open relationships, not everyone is cut out for them. Open relationships can create a lot of jealousy if you are not truly comfortable with your partner seeing and sleeping with other people. Open relationships can also make it difficult to create an intimate connection with one partner. For many people that is not necessarily a draw back, but for others, that intimate connection is the ultimate goal of a romantic relationship, and it can be hard to achieve while you are open to other relationships.
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A long distance relationship is a romantic relationship in which you do not live in the same place as your partner. This can mean that you are in different cities, states or even countries. The exact distance doesn’t really matter, it’s the fact that you are apart. Long distance relationships tend to be more successful if the couple is independent. Long distance relationships can sometimes become open relationships while the partners are apart. It’s important to note that long distance relationships are not a permanent state in a relationship. There should be an end goal of being together in the same place even if it is far in the future. Open relationships are great for people that are committed to one another, but are living in different places due to school, work, family obligations, etc., etc. Long distance relationships can offer people a lot of independence and time to explore their identities. They are also great for people that feel like they need to achieve certain things before completely settling down, whether that’s graduate school, military service or a certain status in their job. If both partners are willing to commit to communication and doing whatever it takes to make the relationship work, then long distance relationships are a great way to stay committed to one another while pursuing your goals independently.
Not every couple is cut out for a long distance relationship, especially couples made up of people that prefer codependent relationships. While long distance relationships offer flexibility, they can take a tax on your social life in the city that you live in. Constantly communicating with your partner who lives elsewhere can make it hard to fully be present where you are. Long distance relationships can also create jealousy if you are worried about your partner getting too settled into a life that doesn’t involve you. This type of romantic relationship can be a great way to continue a romantic connection (or even start a romantic relationship) if you are able to create boundaries and communicate effectively. And if there is an end date in the distance!
“Just for now”
A “just for now” relationship, is a casual romantic relationship that doesn’t have much of a future. This kind of relationship can have a romantic connection in addition to a physical/sexual connection, but is not something that either partner sees as long term. These types of relationships can be super fun, because they avoid the intimate emotional connection that can make relationships serious and energy consuming. These relationships are characterized with surface level connections, flirting, and often lots of physical intimacy and sex. These relationships are great for people that are looking for a romantic connection, but do not have the time or energy to be in a serious romantic relationship. It’s crucial that both people in this relationship are aware of the temporary nature of this relationship, so that one person doesn’t invest too much energy or emotion into the connection.
While these relationships can be very fun and fulfilling in the short term, the lack of deep connection can cause the relationship to fizzle out. On the other hand, it can be hard for certain people to maintain this surface level connection when they spend a lot of time with another person, or when they connect on a physically intimate level. “Just for now” relationships can get complicated very quickly if people develop different levels of attachment to the other person and to the relationship. It’s important to frequently communicate about how the relationship is going, and discuss whether you are satisfied with the arrangement. Sometimes “just for now” relationships can develop into more serious romantic relationships if both people are on the same page, but this should not be the expectation or desired outcome when you enter into this type of relationship.
Sexual/physical relationships are similar to “just for now” relationships, except that they tend to lack the romantic connection. These relationships are normally just physical, and do not entail any kind of emotional connection. These relationships are often based around booty calls, or more planned physically intimate time together. Sexual/physical relationships are great for people that are not ready to commit emotional energy to a romantic relationship. They are also great for people that are in an open relationship, looking to pursue a sexual relationship on the side. This type of relationship is great for people looking for physical intimacy and nothing else. Like “just for now” relationships, it’s important that both people are on the same page about the terms of the relationship in order to avoid one person becoming too emotionally invested. This type of relationship is not for everyone as it can be very hard to some people to separate sex and physical intimacy from emotional initmacy. Before engaging in a sexual/physical relationship, it’s important to reflect on whether this type of relationship is possible for you. Sexual/physical relationships have the potential to be very sexually satisfying, as long as they do not cost your emotions in the long term.
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