When we dated in our 20s some twenty years ago, dating and finding true love was based upon the romantic notion of “Cinderella”. We were going to meet a prince charming who would sweep us off our feet, and live happily ever after. Fast forward twenty years. For some of us, this fairytale was just that, a fairy tale. Now in our 40s and maybe newly divorced or widowed, some of us are discovering that there are far more types of relationships we can engage in beside the “Big Three” we grew up with: Monogamy, Homosexuality, and Bisexuality. Relationships can vary based upon the emotional or sexual commitment of the partners. It’s now acceptable to have a relationship that involves a number of partners in a committed emotional/sexual relationship; or involves others for sexual, but not emotional needs (or vice-versa), that is outside the couple’s relationship; or does not involve any having sex at all. As you re-enter the dating world as a mature adult, you have more choices than sticking with a traditional relationship. Knowing what your and your partner’s expectations are regarding the level and type of emotional and sexual intimacy is important for the success of your next relationships.
The 7 Major Types of Relationships Based Upon Emotional and Sexual Commitment
***Spoiler Alert: If you don’t feel like reading, go straight to this video in my website***
- Monogamous: Back in the day, we were taught to seek traditional heterosexual relationships. Later, the monogamous relationship included other forms such as homosexuality. Whether one is heterosexual, gay, or lesbian, those singles who sought a one-on-one emotional and sexual relationship is considered to be monogamous.
- Polyamorous: The most famous group that practiced polyamorous relationships was the Mormons. Most polygamist are men who have several partners that are often times ranked as primary, secondary, etc. Their ranks can change as needs change. Anyone watch “Sister Wives”, the tv show in which Kody Brown, with his four wives Meri, Janelle, Robyn and Christine and their combined 17 children, attempt to navigate life as a “normal” family?
- Open Relationships: As its name implies, “Open Relationships” involve couples who both agree to have an exclusive emotional relationship, but an “open” relationship with respect to having sex with others outside the relationship. Often times, many women agree to this type of relationship not because she wants to, but because she’s afraid of losing her partner. If your partner proposes an “open relationship”, as yourself “Is this truly what I want, or am I agreeing for fear of losing him?”.
- Long Distance Relationships: Separated physically by geography, this couple is exclusively emotionally and sexually committed. This relationship often arises when high school sweethearts go off to college and elect to remain exclusively emotionally and sexually committed with each other. “Long Distance Relationships” can also occur when a job relocation necessitates separation. Fortunately, it is much easier to carry on a long distance relationship with technology like Facetime or Skype. If you’ve ever been in a long distance relationship, you’ll know that common issues are insecurity and jealousy. Having a successful long distance relationship can be hard and many couples later choose to have an open relationship. At some point, separated couples must decide whether to break up, stay together with a set timetable for reunification, or agree to have a long-distance relationship on a permanent basis.
- Casual Sex Relationship: In the “Casual Sexual Relationship”, a couple may have a monogamous sexual relationship with no monogamous emotional connection. This couple usually has sex on a regular basis, while also being free to be sexually and/or emotionally intimate with others. Think of the unabashed sexual vixen, Samantha, on “Sex in the City”.
- Friends with Benefit: I think we’ve all had the “Friends with Benefit” Relationship which is characterized by two really good friends who on occasion have sex every once in a while (often after a night of drinking!). Outside of the occasional sex that neither talks about when in their “friend” mode, the relationship is purely platonic. It can either grow into a relationship, or end when one friend finds a romantic partner. The most famous of this ilk was in the classic movie, “When Harry Met Sally”, with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
- Asexual Relationship: This might come as a surprise to sex hungry gals like Samantha, but there are some people who are asexual, that is, they don’t experience sexual desire. Asexuals will usually get together with other asexuals for obvious reasons. Surprisingly, Asexual Relationships can involve two partners who are asexual; or only one partner being asexual. An an Asexual Relationship can take three forms: (1) couple can choose to be completely sexless; (2) the asexual partner compromises by engaging in sex occasionally; and (3) experiment with “pseudo-sexual behaviors” like cuddling.
Compared to when we dated years ago, singles can now look beyond traditional heterosexual relationships for their emotional and sexual needs. Seeking other non-traditional relationships is not frowned upon, and singles proudly own up to their preferences. As the saying goals, “Do Whatever Floats Your Boat”.
****Cocktail Chatterers, would you consider trying a different type of relationship ?****
Let us know in the comments below