There are so many relationship terms today! I was listening to an NPR segment and they were talking about how the idea of relationships has changed dramatically in the previous 20 years. Xennials, Millenials, and Generation Z (essentially everyone born since 1975) have redefined what it means to be in a romantic relationship. Often, as a therapist and sex educator, I get questions about what specific terms mean, or how to define specific ways of putting a relationship together with partner(s).
The FIRST thing you should know - you and your partner(s) define what kind of relationship you have. You decide what to call it, and what it looks like.
However, that doesn't mean that you won't come across many terms and ideas as you determine what works best for you. In an effort to help you understand more about what some of these terms are, I went ahead and put a few of them together for you.
NOTE: Not in alphabetical or any other order.
This is not an exhaustive list. This is purely a start!
This is a generic term that when broken down means "many" (poly) and "love" (amorous). Essentially, it is a relationship that is not monogamous, or just between two people. It is a relationship that has more than two people, but is not defined further than that.
This can be a person or couple who typically engages in 'swapping' partners or inviting lovers into their sexual relationship. Swingers are not often involved in romantic entanglements with others, it is more physical and sex-based.
This is a relationship type where each partner(s) have decided that they are not exclusive, and that they may pursue other relationship types - this can include romantic, psychological, emotional, or physical (sexual) relationships per the couple(s) agreement.
This is the standard-template form of a dyadic relationship we are all familiar with - it is represented every day in the media and all around us un public. This is a relationship where there are a maximum of two people in a romantic (etc.) relationship with one another.
This is the person whom you have the deepest, or longest connection with. Often it is the "first" person you have in your relationship. It can also describe the m most important person in your relationship(s). Usually calling someone a primary means that you have other partner(s) as well, denoting your relationship as other than monogamous.
This is a relationship type when the people involved in it have decided this is a serious relationship, with long-term plans and goals. A committed relationship is defined as such because all the partners have decided they are going to invest in maintaining the relationship over time and across difficulties.
Uncommitted (not serious)
You know, when you meet someone and at first, it's so care-free and laid back? Yeah, that kind of relationship is "uncommitted" - there are no serious expectations, everyone is just having fun and getting to know one another. This is an uncommitted relationship, based on the consideration of a future, without investment.
These can include specific terms or identities related to sexual expression and how that plays into the specific kind of relationship. These can include: Scene Partner, Daddy, Mistress, Play Mate, Play Time, Dom/Sub, etc. - This will be defined later, stay tuned!
Umbrella term similar to polyamorous; essentially saying that a couple is not just the two of them. Some couples use this term to describe relationships that are not "open" relationships, and are not "poly," and are also not "swingers," but instead are more open to discovering which one fits best, with an acknowledgement that it may change.
This is probably one of the most important terms on this list! If a person puts "intentionally" or "consensually" in front of their relationship type, they are denoting that they (as a couple+) have decided on this identity together, with forethought and insight. It is similar to consent in a lot of ways - denoting that all parties have agreed, and it is current!
This is a relationship type typically applied to heterosexual couples, when the male partner in the relationship finds and watches his female partner engage in sexual relationships with other men. This is different than a threesome, in that the male partner enjoys the act of watching his female partner have sex with another man, and that is the relationship type itself.
Another generic umbrella term for a relationship that is more than a pairing - can be considered to include all non-monogamous relationship types.
.... pfew! That was a good start, eh? What do you think? I know I missed a lot on here... What is the one that is most important to you? What did I forget? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Welcome to Dr. B's website!
On this site, you will find Dr. B's blog, information on how to book Dr. B for trainings, supervision, or therapy, his current research, and many educational materials!
Bookmark and check back often - and follow on social media to get the latest updates!