Different Types of Relationships
Recognising that relationships come in all forms can be useful to help communicate what you want from a healthy relationship, or to help you recognise that unhealthy relationships can also come in different forms.
Particularly in LGBTQ+ communities, there can be less pressure to have relationships based on more traditional models.
However, there are healthy traits which are important to all relationships, such as trust, feeling secure, consent, communication and respect.
If you are concerned about whether your relationship is healthy or not, take our quiz here.
Monogamy is a relationship involving two people, with no other negotiated lovers or partners at the same time.
Open relationships are generally when two people in a relationship agree to not be entirely monogamous. How open a relationship is can differ significantly across relationships. In some relationships, partners decide to open up for brief periods of time and return to monogamy at a later point.
Like all healthy relationships, trust and communication are critical to making sure that both partners (and everyone else involved) are comfortable. No one in the relationship should feel pressured or uncomfortable.
Without clear arrangements, relationships can become unhealthy. Couples should consider speaking about different parts of an open relationship, such as:
- “Playing” separately or together
- The level of disclosure both between partners and with those outside of the relationship
- The level of romantic involvement with other people
- Boundaries around types of sex or intimate activities they engage in with others
- Commitment to their sex and romantic lives together
Polyamory is a type of open relationship, where people may have more than one ongoing romantic partners.
Often, a person may have a primary partner, meaning that although they have other partners their main commitment is to their primary partner. However, this is not always the case – some people have multiple partners of equal status.
In some relationships, there may be three or more people involved with each other known as a “thruple”, or “quad” when there are four people.
Some people experience little to no sexual desire or sexual attraction to others.
Some are both asexual and aromantic, meaning they do not have romantic nor sexual feeling towards others. However, many individuals will develop romantic feelings for another without a desire to have sex with them.
Romantic attraction can be for a single or multiple genders. These relationships are founded on romantic, physical and emotional attraction and companionship.
Like all relationships, the relationships of people who are asexual come in all shapes and sizes. Some individuals are partnered with other asexual people, while others may be partnered with a sexual person and may be in an open relationship or have other approaches to maintaining their relationships.
A casual relationship is where the people involved see each other regularly or semi-regularly, but there are minimal expectations on the people involved.
These relationships range from being romantic or semi-romantic to purely sexual in nature. Like all relationships, it is important to communicate clear expectations early on so people do not get hurt.
A dominant-submissive relationship is where one partner is dominant (a sadist) and the other submits to their partner (a masochist). Both dominant and submissive partners are equal in having their boundaries respected by their partner, regardless of their role.
Trust, communication, boundaries and consent are crucial to having a safe and healthy sub/dom relationship.