One of the most crucial aspects of gaining and sustaining one’s general well-being is engaging in relationships (Kansky, 2018). Since humans are created as relational and social beings, every person is naturally inclined to seek a one-on-one bond and establish good relationships with others, especially within the social groups where they belong (Melé & Cantón, 2014). Romantic relationships, in particular, are quite common as it brings in a different level of intimacy, satisfaction, and closeness among people engaging in this type of social relationship. Interestingly, there are many different classifications of romantic relationships that exist in today’s modern age.
Monogamous relationship is one of the most common classifications of romantic relationships that exist these days. From the word ‘monogamy’ which means engaging in a romantic relationship with one person at a time, this type of relationship can either be in the context of a committed relationship (e.g., dating, marriage, etc.) or even a sexual relationship (Cambridge Dictionary, 2020). As a dyadic form of relationship, monogamy entails two people committing to love and remain exclusive with each other, without the involvement of any other person outside of the relationship (Reichard, 2003). Many people consider being in a monogamous relationship as the ideal type of romantic relationship because it is what is considered as socially acceptable and normal in most societies (Kort, 2018). Nevertheless, because of the emergence of new and varying mindsets about relationships, the very concept of monogamy has also changed depending on the supposed agreement between two individuals (Kort, 2018).
Polyamorous relationship is another classification of romantic relationship that is also popularly practiced or engaged in by people in modern societies. From the Greek word, ‘poly’ which means ‘several’ or ‘many’, a polyamorous relationship entails having an intimate relationship with more than one individual or partner, wherein all parties are well-aware and informed of the existence of other partners within the relationship (Sheff, 2016). For advocates and supporters of the concept of polyamorous relationships, it has been labeled as an ethical, responsible, and consensual type of non-monogamous relationship (Klesse, 2016). But despite the popularity of polyamorous relationships and its moral and ethical justifications, there remains to be a “dark side” to it. As pointed out by Dodgson (2019), not all societies allow and protect this type of relationship setup. In fact, in the United States, it could serve as a basis for losing a job and may also jeopardize arrangements for child custody as well as complicate the process of acquiring a divorce (Dodgson, 2019). On top of all these, people in polyamorous relationships tend to suffer from ill feelings towards other partners, as stirred by jealousy and insecurity. In addition, partners tend to lose emotional connection which often leads to meaningless sexual engagements devoid of trust and a real sense of intimacy (Mann, 2019).
Aside from the existence of monogamous and polyamorous relationships, long-distance relationships also serve as another classification of romantic relationships. It is basically characterized by two partners involved in an intimate relationship but are separated geographically from one another (Maguire & Kinney, 2010). Partners engaged in a long-distance relationship tend to endure many sacrifices in order to make the relationship work as challenges in relation to geographical distance and the absence of face-to-face interaction tend to complicate the relationship setup (Maguire & Kinney, 2010). In fact, according to Aylor and Dainton (2002), many long-distance relationships that lack a regular form of communication as well as an actual face-to-face contact every once in a while, suffer from low levels of trust, commitment, and satisfaction.
Lastly, there is also the casual or non-committed relationship which recently caught people’s attention because of its “no label”, “no strings attached” type of relationship setup. It stems from the belief that defining a relationship and putting labels on it only complicates things for both partners (Jones, 2018). Interestingly, this form of relationship became mainstream because of the rise of the millennial generation, which has been described as an overtly “cautious” generation, particularly when it comes to commitment and love (Jones, 2018).
In conclusion, there are indeed many different classifications of romantic relationships that are currently being practiced and engaged in by people in modern societies. Nevertheless, regardless of the type of romantic relationship that people choose to get involved in, it is important that they are able to gain and sustain their happiness and well-being as this is the essence and purpose of engaging in romantic relationships. Generally, people dream of being in a relationship in order to feel the trust, intimacy, and love that they naturally seek and desire for.
Aylor, B., & Dainton, M. (2002). Patterns of communication channel use in the maintenance of long-distance relationships. Communication Research Reports, 19 (2), 118–129. doi:10.1080/08824090209384839
Cambridge Dictionary. (2020). Monogamy. Retrieved from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/monogamy
Dodgson, L. (2019). There’s a dark side of polyamory that nobody talks about. Retrieved from https://www.insider.com/dark-side-of-polyamory-2019-2
Jones, A. (2018). No label dating: can you have love without commitment? Retrieved from https://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/article/85bb8eee-8339-4c30-8af2-6019cd916fe9
Kansky, J. (2018). What’s love got to do with it?: Romantic relationships and well-being. In E. Diener, S. Oishi, & L. Tay, Handbook of well-being. Salt Lake City, UT: DEF Publishers.
Klesse, C. (2016). Polyamory and its ‘Others’: Contesting the Terms of Non-Monogamy. Sexualities, 9 (5) , 565–583.
Kort, J. (2018). Monogamy: It’s Not What You Think. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/understanding-the-erotic-code/201809/monogamy-it-s-not-what-you-think
Maguire, K., & Kinney, T. (2010). When Distance is Problematic: Communication, Coping, and Relational Satisfaction in Female College Students’ Long-Distance Dating Relationships. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 38 (1) , 27.
Mann, J. (2019). The Pros and Cons of Being in a Polyamorous Relationship. Retrieved from https://www.instyle.com/lifestyle/hump-day-polyamory-pros-cons
Melé, D., & Cantón, C. (2014). Relational Dimensions of the Human Being. In Human Foundations of Management. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
Reichard, U. (2003). Monogamy: past and present. In U. Reichard, & C. (. Boesch, Monogamy: Mating Strategies and Partnerships in Birds, Humans and Other Mammals. . Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Sheff, E. (2016). When Someone You Love Is Polyamorous: Understanding Poly People and Relationships . Portland, OR: Thorntree Press.