Exploring Different Types of Sexual Relationships

It’s no great surprise that there are different types of relationships. Relationships may be purely sexual, romantic, or a combination of the two. Most people are sexually motivated but the types of relationships they engage in are quite different.

Let’s explore various types of romantic relationships to see where we all fit. Knowing what you want when entering a relationship is the key to harmony and, of course, great sex!

What is “Romantic”?

The idea that sex and romance are intertwined can lead to misunderstandings, so having a handle on what the word “romance” means can clarify your thinking. While sex and romance are often both present in a relationship, there are different types of romantic relationships but not all sexual relationships involve romance.

“Romance” is defined as the mystery of love. That stomach drop when you first see someone you’re attracted to can develop into a feeling of intense love, devotion, and attraction. But sometimes, that feeling is a simple desire to have sex with the person you’re seeing. It’s often difficult to unravel what that special feeling means. It helps to think of intense physical attraction as a biologically-derived impulse. When that feeling is intertwined with a concurrent wish to be near the person in question, to protect them, love them, and to have a common future with them, romance is also present.

Sometimes, people are sexually attracted to one another but have no illusions that the relationship extends beyond the physical. And that’s OK, so long as both parties are on the same page. Sexual relationships can be cordial, can grow you as a person, and can even help to define the type of relationship you’re interested in pursuing.

Row of cutout pink and red hearts

Are All Sexual Relationships Romantic?

Not all relationships involving sex are romantic. You meet someone you’re interested in. They’re sexy. But do you feel romantically inclined toward them?

If not, enjoying a relationship with no romantic component is part of life’s adventure. You may know that the object of your desire isn’t who you want to share any type of romantic relationship with, but you still want to get naked with them. That is not to say that some sexual relationships won’t grow into a romantic relationship. Nobody’s 100% accurate about defining their feelings. That’s why it’s important to keep an open mind about sex!

What’s important to understand about sexual relationships is that they’re usually transitory. In fact, most relationships that center sex to the exclusion of romance generally last no longer than 18 months to 2 years.

Different Types of Romantic Relationships

2021 study identified 5 distinct relationship clusters, emerging in early adulthood. These clusters seem to be repeated as individual patterns in sexual and romantic relationships throughout life for most people:

  • Independent (19%): These early adult relationships are primarily non-cohabiting couples with high independence, spending little time together. Typified by easy warmth, they’re unlikely to become long-term.
  • Consolidated (31%): The consolidated relationship is settled, with many couples becoming engaged. The same easy warmth is found in these relationships and it’s possible that the independent romantic relationship that endures will grow into this cluster.
  • Exploratory (18%): In young adulthood, the exploratory relationship is most likely to be sexual, dressed up as romance. Characterized by more negative interactions than the other 4 clusters, it is the least enduring type.
  • Stuck (23%): Most in this cluster were unhappy in their relationships. Stuck relationships were also highly subject to “cycling” (breaking up/making up) and rooted in the young adult’s quest for stability.
  • Intense (9%): This cluster experienced the most relationship cycling, as well as depression. The intensity experienced is a common feature of unstable, emotionally (and often sexually driven) relationships. “Intense” couples may be best served by acknowledging that they’re in a sexual and not a romantic relationship.

Ringing Any Bells?

Couple dancing on top of a building

Have you recognized your relationship in this post? As I said, the patterns you establish as a young adult can stick with you. And that can lead to disappointment. Not knowing what you want from a sexual or romantic relationship or confusing the two types of relationships can trap you in a toxic loop of serial monogamy without deciding that’s what you actually want.

A key component in any type of relationship is honest, open communication. Establishing ground rules and mutual expectations leads to a clear-eyed definition of the type of relationship you’re involved in. Open communication helps you avoid unhappiness for both partners.

No matter what kind of relationship you’re in or whether you’re in a relationship at all, Box Rocker from Top Drawer Toys brings you orgasmic pleasure whenever you’re in the mood. Find out more about this innovative sex toy!

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