Types of romantic and sexual relationships: the diversity in the links

Foto: Envato

Historically there have been various types of romantic and sexual relationships. However, Western morality has deeply marked the links that exist between couples; Although open relationships have existed since ancient times, in many societies they have remained in the underground sphere because there seems to be a more marked acceptance and naturalization of monogamy.

Several of the African societies are recognized for not following monogamous relationship models, as is the case in many other places in the world. According to María Ramírez, a study carried out by George Murdock shows that of 849 societies studied, 708 allowed polygamy, while the other 137 were merely monogamous and the remaining 4 corresponded to polyandrous communities, that is, women had several husbands.

There are more conversations about non-monogamous relationships these days, and people seem more open to trying to bond outside of that construct. According to the sex expert, Manuel Matheu, in an interview with the BBC: Monogamy is not an intrinsic trait of human beings and it is not in their nature, this type of relationship has been imposed culturally and has spread throughout the world.

Couple kissing each other
Source: Envato

For the expert, monogamy is only common in animals that do not have the time or strength available to establish more open relationships; for example, storks and some penguins, which, due to their migrations, are usually with the same partner for their entire lives. Otherwise, it happens with the rest of the animals, among those human beings.

Types of romantic and sexual relationships

This does not mean that monogamous relationships are wrong or that they should be eliminated, on the contrary, it means that it is necessary to reform the beliefs that only one type of relationship is correct and that the others are not. An important part of knowing the categories of existing relationships is that people have the possibility to choose which one they feel comfortable with and experience them under the conditions that consensus allows them.

For this reason, we are going to take a tour of the types of relationships that exist and their agreements:

Monogamous relationships

In this relationship, the participants establish a mutual agreement of fidelity with respect to certain conditions; mainly, sexual and romantic exclusivity. In this case, the two people must set limits on what is right and wrong in the relationship, that is, how far they can go before it is called infidelity. It is the traditional relationship model and is reproduced in an important part of the world.

However, within monogamous relationships, more flexible limits can be established, either in the romantic or erotic sphere, as long as the main agreements of the closed relationship are not broken.

Non-monogamous relationships

There are different types of non-monogamous relationships, here we tell you what they are:

Open relationship:

In this type of bond, the two people in the relationship allow themselves to experiment sexually with a third —or fourth, or fifth…—, as long as the stipulated agreements are respected. Each open link is very marked by the limits where what is allowed and what is not is established.

There are those who agree to know details and those who do not; also, in some cases, there is the condition that the encounters can only occur with the other's knowledge; and, likewise, those who decide to share the experience with one or more other people as a couple.

Within these relationships there are various phenomena, such as swingers, who exchange partners or enjoy “sharing” their partner with another person. In the same way, there are relationships with closed eyes, in which the agreement is explicit but it is no longer necessary to share the experiences lived outside the relationship.

Gay couple kissing
Source: Envato

Traditional polygamy:

It is a relationship with a religious or traditional basis in which three or more people participate; but within a common agreement of romantic and erotic exclusivity between them. In these relationships, the dichotomy of the couple is broken and they are guided by the certainty that it is possible to love more than one person at the same time.

Triangle relationship:

In this case, one of the participants is in a closed relationship with two others, but the latter do not relate to each other. That is, one is in a relationship with two and three, but two and three have no bond with each other. This relationship is different from infidelity, since there is consent from all three parties. Also, relationships are just as important to the “main” couple, so there is no preference over one of them.

Polyamory with hierarchy:

This case is similar to the previous one, however, the difference is that one of the relationships is the main one; while the other or others are secondary and there is a tacit agreement on it.

Relational anarchy:

There are no set rules here and people can be romantically and sexually involved with anyone without any restrictions. For this reason, this type of relationship decentralizes the category of “couple” as the only space in which responsible and committed bonds can occur.

Other ways to relate

There are even more ways to relate, we tell you what they are:

Asexual relationship:

This relationship is included in another category since it can enter any of the previous options, however, they are characteristic since the connection is only romantic and does not occur on the erotic level, since asexual people do not feel that sexual attraction — or it depends on the spectrum within which they are.

In this case, people can establish agreements that close or open the relationship according to their interests and beliefs, but this flexibility is linked to the romantic at all times.

Lesbian couple
Source: Envato

Aromantic relationship:

This case may be more common than is believed, since the relationship is exclusively sexual and does not establish romantic ties at any time. In it, clear agreements are established on the limits between which each person is allowed to incur. That is, the conditions can be established in something closed and exclusive or you can allow yourself to live experiences with more people.

The importance of consent and affective responsibility

As in any type of relationship, the fundamental basis of the agreements is consensus and consent, therefore, the links must be safe places in which each party feels comfortable and happy. All the relationships named above are valid; as long as they are not imposed and are by mutual agreement.

Likewise, this type of relationship is an alternative to imposed monogamy, which is commonly handled under the assumption that it is necessary to repress alternative desires or attractions to the relationship. Not all people are willing to have a closed relationship; so it is more responsible to allow yourself to study other alternatives that allow you to live your sexual-affective life fully.

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