A relationship is any connection that exists between two people, whether positive or negative. You can have a relationship with anyone, including family and friends. While the phrase “being in a relationship” is frequently associated with romantic relationships, it can also refer to a variety of associations that one person has with another. (What Exactly Is a Relationship? )
To be “in a relationship” does not always imply physical intimacy, emotional attachment, and/or commitment. People engage in a wide range of relationships, each with its own set of characteristics.
Relationships are typically classified into one of several categories (though these can sometimes overlap):
Relationships between lovers
Relationships in the context (sometimes called “situationships”)
The closeness of these different types of relationships can vary greatly, and there are also different subtypes of relationships within each of these basic types. The following are some of the various types of relationships you may encounter at some point in your life:
A platonic relationship is a type of friendship that consists of a close, intimate bond without the use of sex or romance. These relationships are typically characterized by:
Respect, Support, Honesty, and Acceptance
Platonic relationships can take place in a variety of contexts and can involve same-sex or opposite-sex friendships. You could form a platonic relationship with a classmate or coworker, or you could meet someone in another setting, such as a club, athletic activity, or volunteer organization in which you are involved.
This type of relationship can be extremely beneficial in terms of social support, which is essential for your health and well-being. According to research, platonic friendships can help lower your risk of disease, reduce your risk of depression or anxiety, and boost your immunity. 1
Closeness and friendship without sex are examples of platonic relationships. Sometimes platonic relationships evolve into romantic or sexual relationships over time.
Relationships with Romance
Romantic relationships are defined by feelings of love and attraction towards another person. While romantic love can take many forms, it is frequently characterized by feelings of infatuation, intimacy, and commitment.
Experts have devised a number of different ways to describe and express love. Psychotherapist Robert Sternberg, for example, proposes three main components of love: passion, intimacy, and decision/commitment. He defines romantic love as a union of passion and intimacy.
Romantic relationships, like all others, evolve over time. People typically feel more passionate at the start of a relationship. The brain releases specific neurotransmitters (dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin) during the initial infatuation period, causing people to feel euphoric and “in love.”
These feelings begin to fade in intensity over time. People develop deeper levels of emotional intimacy and understanding as their relationship matures.
Romantic relationships are often explosive at first. While feelings of passion usually fade with time, feelings of trust, emotional intimacy, and commitment grow stronger.
Relationships that are codependent
A codependent relationship is an unhealthy, dysfunctional type of relationship in which one partner is emotionally, physically, or mentally dependent on the other.
Both partners are frequently mutually dependent on one another. Both may take turns playing the caregiver role, alternating between caregiver and care receiver
A codependent relationship has the following characteristics
Being the giver while the other person is the taker
Going out of one’s way to avoid conflict with the other person
Feeling the need to seek permission to do things
Having to save or rescue someone from their own actions
Doing things that make you uncomfortable in order to make someone else happy
However, not all codependent relationships are the same. In terms of severity, they can vary. Codependency can affect all types of relationships, including romantic relationships, parent-child relationships, friendship, other family members, and even coworkers.
Codependent relationships are built together. While one partner may appear more “needy,” the other partner may feel more at ease being needed.
Someone who prefers to be needed, for example, may avoid focusing on their own needs by choosing a partner who is constantly dependent on them.
Casual relationships are often dating relationships that include sex but have no expectations of monogamy or commitment. However, experts argue that the term is ambiguous and can mean different things to different people.
According to the authors of one study published in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, casual relationships can include situations such as
Booty refers to her “sex” pals as “friends with benefits.”
Such relationships frequently exist on a spectrum that varies in terms of frequency of contact, type of contact, amount of personal disclosure, relationship discussion, and degree of friendship. People with more sexual experience were found to be better able to identify the definitions of these labels than those with less sexual experience, according to the study.
Young adults frequently engage in casual relationships. Casual relationships can have several sex-positive benefits as long as they are marked by communication and consent. They can satisfy the desire for sex, intimacy, connection, and companionship without the emotional and physical demands of a more serious relationship.
Relationships That Are Open
An open relationship is a type of consensually non-monogamous relationship in which one or more partners have sex or have relationships with other people. In an open relationship, both people agree to have sex with other people, but there may be certain conditions or limitations.
Open relationships can occur in any type of romantic relationship, whether casual, dating, or married.
Non-monogamous relationships are often stigmatized. Nonetheless, research indicates that approximately 21 percent to 22 percent of adults will be involved in some type of open relationship at some point in their lives.
Gender and sexual orientation also influence the likelihood of being in an open relationship. Men reported having more open relationships than women; people who identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual were more likely to report previous engagement in open relationships than those who identified as heterosexual.
Such relationships can have advantages, such as increased sexual freedom, but they can also have drawbacks, such as jealousy and emotional pain. When couples establish personal, emotional, and sexual boundaries and clearly communicate their feelings and needs to one another, open relationships thrive.
Consensual non-monogamy takes the form of open relationships. While the two people in the relationship have a primary emotional and often physical connection, they mutually agree to intimacy with other people outside of the relationship.
Relationships that are toxic
A toxic relationship is any type of interpersonal relationship that endangers or threatens your emotional, physical, or psychological well-being in some way. Such relationships frequently leave you feeling humiliated, ashamed, misunderstood, or unsupported.
Any type of relationship, including friendships, family relationships, romantic relationships, and workplace relationships, can be toxic.
Toxic relationships are distinguished by:
a lack of assistance
Behaviors that exert control
Sometimes everyone in a relationship contributes to the toxicity. For example, if you are all consistently unkind, critical, insecure, and negative, you may be contributing to toxicity.
In other cases, one partner in a relationship may act in ways that elicit toxic emotions. This may be on purpose, but in other cases, people may be unaware of how their actions affect others. They may not know any other way of acting and communicating because of their previous experiences with relationships, which occurred frequently in their home growing up.
This causes more than just dissatisfaction; toxic relationships can be harmful to your health. According to one study, stress caused by negative relationships, for example, has a direct impact on cardiovascular health.
Feeling isolated and misunderstood in a relationship can also led to loneliness, which has been linked to negative physical and mental health outcomes.
Relationships that are toxic can be stressful, harmful, and even abusive. If you’re in a toxic relationship with someone in your life, work on setting firm boundaries in order to protect yourself. If the relationship is causing you harm, consult a mental health professional or consider ending it. (What Exactly Is a Relationship? – Love and Relationships