What Type Of Relationship Are You In? A Big Glossary Of Dating Terms (2023)



June 12, 2021

Contributing Sex & Relationships Editor

By Kelly Gonsalves

Contributing Sex & Relationships Editor

(Video) New Dating Terminology

Kelly Gonsalves is a sex educator, relationship coach, and journalist. She received her journalism degree from Northwestern University, and her writings on sex, relationships, identity, and wellness have appeared at The Cut, Vice, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and elsewhere.

Definition of a relationshipBasic typesRomantic relationshipsIn psychology

How to define your relationship

June 12, 2021

People use the word "relationship" so much these days that it's often assumed to have one universal definition. In reality, though, the word encompasses such a massive variety of kinds of human connections, both romantic and nonromantic, and it's likely that no two people share the exact same understanding of what defines a relationship. So, here's a cheat sheet of the basics.


This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.

What is a relationship?

sleep support+★ ★ ★ ★ ★★ ★ ★ ★ ★(447)
(Video) The Three Requirements of a Good Relationship

A relationship is any kind of association or connection between people, whether intimate, platonic, positive, or negative. Typically when people talk about "being in a relationship," the term is referencing a specific type of romantic relationship involving both emotional and physical intimacy, some level of ongoing commitment, and monogamy (i.e., romantic and sexual exclusivity, wherein members don't have this type of relationship with anyone else). That said, romantic relationships can take many different forms, from marriage to casual dating to ethical nonmonogamy.

There are four basic types of relationships: family relationships, friendships, acquaintanceships, and romantic relationships. Other more nuanced types of relationships might include work relationships, teacher/student relationships, and community or group relationships. Some of these types of relationships can overlap and coincide with one another—for example, two people can be both work colleagues and close friends. There are also many variations within each category, such as codependent friendships, sexless marriages, or toxic family members.


This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.

Basic types of relationships:

  • Familial relationships, aka family members or relatives
  • Friendships
  • Acquaintances
  • Sexual relationships
  • Work or professional relationships
  • Teacher/student relationships
  • Community or group relationships
  • Place-based relationships, such as neighbors, roommates, and landlord/tenant relationships
  • Enemies or rivals
  • Relationship to self

Types of romantic relationships.

There are many different relationship labels people use to define their relationship to themselves and to others, but below are a few of the main basic types of romantic relationships:


This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.



Dating is the process of intentionally spending time with someone to get to know them better, have fun together, and enjoy being romantic. Dating can sometimes be about seeing if there's potential for a more long-term relationship, or it can just be about having fun without expectations for the future, which is sometimes called casual dating.

Not everyone agrees on what level of commitment is implied when two people say they're "dating." Some people only use the term when there's already a defined, committed relationship in place, whereas others use the term to mean they're simply exploring to see if there's relationship potential.


Committed relationship

In the context of couples, the phrase "in a relationship" usually means being in a committed, long-term romantic relationship. A committed relationship is one where two or more people agree to continue being in a relationship for the foreseeable future. There's an understanding that the two will continue to spend time together, work on growing their relationship with each other, and continue nurturing their connection. People in committed relationships may choose to use identifiers like boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner to signify their relationship to others.

In traditional monogamous relationships, being in a relationship also means that a couple will be romantically and sexually exclusive—that is, they won't have any other romantic or sexual partners other than each other. In nonmonogamous relationships, exclusivity isn't required.

Marriage is one form of committed relationship wherein a couple publicly vows to stay together and forms a legally binding union.

(Video) Have We Really Found The Theory Of Everything?

This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.


Casual relationship

A casual relationship is a relationship where two or more people may be dating, regularly spending time together, and engaging in romantic or sexual activities—but without any expectations for the relationship to last into the future. These types of relationships are usually more situational and short-term, and they may or may not be exclusive.

People in casual relationships usually do like each other and are attracted to each other, though there may not be an intense emotional connection or desire to deepen the connection. Whereas people in committed relationships may see each other as life partners, people in casual relationships may not be as integrated into each other's lives. They typically won't use terms like boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner.


Casual sex

A casual sex relationship is one where two or more people spend time together primarily to have sex with each other. They might see each other regularly for sex, or they may have sex once and never see each other again. They may like each other and enjoy each other's company, but they're not interested in a romantic relationship with each other. Usually, there's no emotional connection, or the connection is distinctly platonic or friendly, as in a "friends with benefits" situation.


This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.



A situationship is a romantic relationship that hasn't been explicitly defined, usually by omission. The relationship may have many of the same qualities as a committed relationship, a casual relationship, or dating, but the people involved have simply not put labels on it—usually intentionally, whether that's to avoid making things too complicated, because they're still figuring out what they want from each other, or because they're too afraid to bring up the "DTR talk" (aka a conversation defining the relationship).

(Video) Do you engage in "gift giving" with narcissists? (Glossary of Narcissistic Relationships)

Generally speaking, situationships usually have more emotional involvement than a friends-with-benefits scenario but not the explicit romantic feelings and commitment of a committed relationship.

While relationships without labels work great for some people, situationships can often happen because the two people aren't on the same page about what they want or because there's an assumption that the relationship will be short-term enough for it not to matter.


Ethical nonmonogamy

Ethical nonmonogamy is a broad umbrella term for any relationship where people can have multiple romantic and sexual partners at the same time. It includes polyamory, open relationships, relationship anarchy, and many other types of relationships between more than two people. Ethically nonmonogamous relationships can be casual, committed, open, exclusive, dating-only, sex-only, or some combination of these categories, and people in these relationships may or may not use terms like boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner to describe each other.

The 7 types of relationships, according to psychology.

One framework for romantic relationships in psychology, known as Sternberg's triangular theory of love, identifies three main components of love: passion, intimacy, and commitment. Passion refers to feelings of excitement and attraction, intimacy refers to feelings of closeness and connection, and commitment refers to the ongoing decision to stay in and nurture the relationship. Depending on which of these three elements are present, a couple can find themselves in one of seven different types of relationships:

  1. Infatuation: passion only
  2. Friendship: intimacy only
  3. Empty love: commitment only
  4. Romantic love: passion + intimacy
  5. Fatuous love: passion + commitment
  6. Companionate love: intimacy + commitment
  7. Consummate love: passion + intimacy + commitment

Developed by psychologist Robert Sternberg, Ph.D., and fellow researchers throughout the 1980s and '90s, this relationship framework has been validated by research across 25 different countries1.

How to define a relationship.

When it comes to dating, romantic relationships, and sex, it's important for partners to be transparent about what type of relationship they want and to make sure they're on the same page.

Here are a few questions to ask each other to define the relationship:

  • What do you want from this relationship? Something casual and in-the-moment? Something more future-oriented? Not sure yet and just want to explore for now?
  • Are you looking for a long-term relationship? If so, do you see potential here?
  • Are you seeing other people?
  • Are there romantic feelings here? Are we interested in exploring those feelings, or do we want to keep things more casual?
  • How often do we want to talk and see each other?

While these questions can feel intimidating or too serious, choosing to avoid these questions means you're just choosing to make assumptions rather than hearing the truth.

"People form commitments [and] expectations even without labels," sex and relationship therapistShadeen Francis, LMFT, once told mbg. "Not talking about the terms of your relationship does not mean you don't have one."

And remember: Defining the relationship does not necessarily mean you need to enter into a serious or committed relationship. Defining the relationship is simply about clarity.

"Some people may choose not to label their relationship because they're afraid of being tied down too quickly or in a place where they feel trapped," relationship therapistShena Tubbs, MMFT, LPC, CSAT-C, once told mbg. "However, one should understand that you maintainfullautonomy of yourself in every relationship you're in, andyouare the one who is responsible for communicating what you need, what you want, and what you don't want. So if you feel you're at a place where you cannot (or don't want) to date one person exclusively, that should be communicated to your partner so that [they] can make a decision about whether that works for them."

Here’s our full guide to DTR, or defining the relationship, plus a bunch of relationship labels to consider.

(Video) Urban Dictionary dating terms you need to know with Jennifer Grissom


What are the 4 types of dating relationships? ›

“The four types of dating couples that we found included the dramatic couple, the conflict-ridden couple, the socially involved couple, and the partner-focused couple,” said Brian Ogolsky, assistant professor at University of Illinois.

How would you describe your dating relationship? ›

Dating is a stage of romantic relationships in which two individuals engage in an activity together, most often with the intention of evaluating each other's suitability as a partner in a future intimate relationship.

What are relationship categories? ›

While there are many different types of relationships, the four main types are typically identified as family relationships, romantic relationships, friendships, and acquaintanceships.

What are the 5 most important relationships? ›

the five constant relationships. The five relationships in classical philosophy are between ruler and subject, father and son, husband and wife, older and younger brothers, and friends. Those were the relationships that ancient society regarded as vital.

What are the 3 most important relationship? ›

All healthy relationships share the following three core components: Mutual respect. Mutual trust. Mutual affection.

What are the 10 levels of intimacy in relationships? ›

While both are important, there are actually 10 more types to experience! The 12 types of intimacy include sexual, emotional, intellectual, aesthetic, creative, recreational, work, crisis, commitment, conflict, communication, and spiritual.

How do you answer what kind of relationship do you want? ›

Answer clearly, concisely, and honestly. Your response should reflect what is truly important to you. Possible things to look for in a relationship include emotional maturity, mutual trust and respect, friendship, physical attraction, and clear communication.

How should I describe myself for dating? ›

1 Talk about common interests and experiences. 2 Highlight the most unique things about you. 3 Be open about your intentions. 4 Tell your match about major changes or milestones.

What are the levels of dating? ›

The 4 Stages of Dating Relationships
  • Stage 1: Initial Meeting/Attraction. Dating relationships have to start somewhere. ...
  • Stage 2: Curiosity, Interest, and Infatuation. During the second stage, attraction and infatuation are most pronounced. ...
  • Stage 3: “Enlightenment” and Becoming a Couple. ...
  • Stage 4: Commitment or Engagement.

What are good types of relationships? ›

Healthy relationships involve honesty, trust, respect and open communication between partners and they take effort and compromise from both people. There is no imbalance of power. Partners respect each other's independence, can make their own decisions without fear of retribution or retaliation, and share decisions.

What are the 3 C's of dating? ›

A strong and healthy relationship is built on the three C's: Communication, Compromise and Commitment.

What stage of a relationship am I in? ›

Stages of Relationships by Months

Stage 1: The euphoric stage - 6 months to 24 months (2 years) Stage 2: The early attachment stage - 12 months (1 year) to 60 months (5 years) Stage 3: The crisis stage - 60 months (5 years) to 84 months (7 years) Stage 4: The deep attachment stage - 84 months (7 years) and beyond.

How long should the dating stage last? ›

Psychologists say you should wait at least two months until you ask the other person to be exclusive with you. You might decide to commit to each other sooner than that, but generally speaking, eight weeks is a good timeline. Keep in mind that this depends on how often you talk to your crush.

How long until dating becomes a relationship? ›

As a rough rule, two months should be a safe amount of time to broach the subject. But every relationship is different, so if it feels right earlier, go for it. If it doesn't feel right at that stage, there are a few steps you can take to build yourself up for the conversation.

What are the 6 characteristics of a healthy dating relationship? ›

Recap. Characteristics of healthy relationships include trust, openness, honesty, respect, affection, communication, and mutual give-and-take.

What is the most important type of relationship? ›

Your Relationship with The Self

This, really, is the most important relationship in your life. You are the person that you spend most time with, and you will like some parts of yourself and not others. You need to come to terms with who you are, be comfortable with that, and have confidence in who that person is.

What are the 6 major elements in a relationship? ›

Six Aspects of a Healthy Relationship
  • Share Responsibility for the Success of the Relationship. First, we must begin by assuming full responsibility for our relationship. ...
  • Trust. ...
  • Intimacy. ...
  • Communication. ...
  • Commitment. ...
  • Time.
Apr 5, 2017

What are 3 things guys want in a relationship? ›

Trust, honesty, and fidelity are just some of the many things men seek in a relationship. Women are more vocal about what they need and desire, but things men want in a relationship remain a mystery more often than not.

What makes a strong relationship? ›

A strong relationship can be considered a team. You work together and support each other, even when you don't see eye to eye on something or have goals that aren't exactly the same. In short, you have each other's back. You know you can turn to them when you're struggling.

What are the 4 types of healthy relationships? ›

Without further ado, here are four things that are needed for a healthy relationship: respect, equality, safety, and trust. Each of these components can manifest in healthy ways or in unhealthy ways in any relationship, and are built with actions as much as words.

What are the 7 elements of a good relationship? ›

Healthy Relationships
  • Mutual respect. Respect means that each person values who the other is and understands the other person's boundaries.
  • Trust. Partners should place trust in each other and give each other the benefit of the doubt.
  • Honesty. ...
  • Compromise. ...
  • Individuality. ...
  • Good communication. ...
  • Anger control. ...
  • Fighting fair.

What are the 5 bonding stages for a man? ›

Appreciation, infatuation, attraction, impression, and conviction are the 5 bonding stages for a man.

What is the deepest intimacy? ›

Emotional intimacy

It involves being able to tell each other your deepest fears, dreams, disappointments, and most complicated emotions, as well as feeling seen and understood when you do.

What's the highest form of intimacy? ›

The highest level of intimacy, requires the greatest amount of trust in our relationship. It is only when we feel truly safe with somebody, that we become willing to share the deepest core of who we are. It's up close and personal.

What are the example of kind of relationship? ›

There are many different types of relationships. This section focuses on four types of relationships: Family relationships, Friendships, Acquaintanceships and Romantic relationships. step-parents) romantic relationships (such as a parent's girlfriend or boyfriend) or adoption.

What is relationship type with example? ›

A Relationship Type is a type of association that can exist between two different (or same) entity types. For example, a person can manage another person, or an organization can legally own another organization. Or a provider can provide health services to a patient.

What kind of a partner you want? ›

A person with a good character, who strongly believes in respect and kindness, should be an ideal choice. In addition, you should be able to communicate openly with them and share core values and chemistry. An independent and loyal person will make a great partner as they will treat you with honesty and understanding.

What are 5 words to describe yourself dating? ›

Words to Describe Yourself in a Dating Profile
  • Funny.
  • Romantic.
  • Trustworthy.
  • Bubbly.
  • Affectionate.
  • Adventurous.
  • Thoughtful.
  • Loyal.
Oct 23, 2022

What do I put in my dating profile bio? ›

Here's what he suggests you do next.
  1. One: Maximize your space. ...
  2. Two: Avoid cliches. ...
  3. Three: Don't list the personality traits you want. ...
  4. Four: Focus on your best qualities. ...
  5. Five: Stay grounded in reality. ...
  6. Six: Limit the inside jokes. ...
  7. Seven: Keep your bio up to date. ...
  8. Eight: Do a quick spell-check.
Jan 22, 2019

How do you describe yourself in a few lines? ›

I am ambitious and driven.

I thrive on challenge and constantly set goals for myself, so I have something to strive towards. I am not comfortable with settling, and I am always looking for an opportunity to do better and achieve greatness. In my previous role, I was promoted three times in less than two years.”

What is the rule of 7 for dating? ›

The rule suggests the younger person in a relationship should be older than half the older person's age plus seven years in order for the relationship to be socially acceptable. For example, the youngest a 26-year-old person should date is 20. The beginnings of the rule are murky.

What are some high standards in dating? ›

The person must be honest, trustworthy, and faithful (the relationship is exclusive) I must feel safe with this person. The person must practice good self-care and not engage in unhealthy or destructive behaviors. The person must have ambition or goals, and be success-oriented.

What is the 3/4 rule in dating? ›

Called the "3-4 rule," Nobile's method requires that singles learn four key principles about their prospect by the end of the third date. Those tenets are chemistry, core values, emotional maturity, and readiness. According to Nobile, this method allows daters to assess chemistry and long-term compatibility.

What are the 2 types of people in relationships? ›

There are two types of people in relationships… those who seek connection and those who seek control.

What are 5 signs of a good relationship? ›

5 Signs of a Healthy Relationship
  • 1- Trust. Trust is an important part of every relationship. ...
  • 2- Respect. In close relationships, it's important to have mutual respect for one another and treat each other kindly. ...
  • 3- Honesty. ...
  • 4- Affection. ...
  • 5- Communication. ...
  • Other Helpful Articles.
Aug 4, 2022

What do you call a relationship without dating? ›

Less than a relationship, but more than a casual encounter or booty call, a situationship refers to a romantic relationship that is, and remains, undefined. "A situationship is that space between a committed relationship and something that is more than a friendship," explains psychotherapist and author Jonathan Alpert.

What is the 37 rule in relationships? ›

To have the highest chance of picking the very best suitor, you should date and reject the first 37 percent of your total group of lifetime suitors. (If you're into math, it's actually 1/e, which comes out to 0.368, or 36.8 percent.)

What is the difference between dating and relationship? ›

When you're dating someone you're not necessarily serious about them so you prioritise other things along with them like work, friends, activities etc. When you're in a relationship, your dynamic with other people might change entirely because the person you're with takes prime importance in your life.

What are the 3 P's of dating? ›

A “date” must pass the test of three p's: (1) planned ahead, (2) paid for, and (3) paired off.

What are the 3 rules of dating? ›

3 Dating Rules to Live By
  • When it's right, it's easy. If he's interested in you, you'll know. If you find yourself AGONIZING over what to text him, or picking apart every bit of communication to try and figure out why he's not calling…it ain't workin'. ...
  • Don't do things you're not comfortable with.
Dec 9, 2010

What is the golden rule of dating? ›

Our golden rule for couples is: “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.” Instead of treating our partner as we would like to be treated, we need to treat them as they want to be treated. This is harder than it seems, for at least three reasons.

What relationship are there between numbers? ›

Answer: The types of relations are as follows: Empty relation. Universal relation. Trivial relation.

What number relationships mean? ›

Number Relationships is one of the key mathematical principles or “Big Ideas” in Number Sense and Numeration. It is important to emphasize number relationships with your students to help them learn how numbers are interconnected and how numbers can be used in meaningful ways.

What is the rule for number 4? ›

Divisibility Rule of 4

If the last two digits of a number are divisible by 4, then that number is a multiple of 4 and is divisible by 4 completely.

What are 5 dating rules? ›

6 Essential Rules For Dating
  • 01 of 06. Put Yourself Out There. Melodie Jeng/Getty Images. ...
  • 02 of 06. Keep an Open Mind. Being open-minded is perhaps the most important rule on this list. ...
  • 03 of 06. Stay Safe. ...
  • 04 of 06. Set Your Own Pace. ...
  • 05 of 06. Remember: Forming Connections Takes Time. ...
  • 06 of 06. Maintain a Positive Attitude.
Mar 21, 2021

What is the dating term roaching? ›

Yes, this term actually refers to cockroaches. According to Glamour, the term was coined by AskMen and describes a partner still sleeping around with other people, which generally happens at the beginning of the relationship.

What are some good dating standards? ›

The person must be honest, trustworthy, and faithful (the relationship is exclusive) I must feel safe with this person. The person must practice good self-care and not engage in unhealthy or destructive behaviors. The person must have ambition or goals, and be success-oriented.

What is the 5 minute rule in a relationship? ›

The 5-5-5 method is simple, according to Clarke. When a disagreement comes up, each partner will take 5 minutes to speak while the other simply listens, and then they use the final five minutes to talk it through.

What is the 222 dating rule? ›

The 2-2-2 Rule involves going on a date night every two weeks, spending a weekend away every two months and taking a week-long vacation away every two years. The idea behind it is that prioritizing and planning to spend time together strengthens your relationship.


1. Datadog on the Lifecycle of Threats and Vulnerabilities
2. Polyamory Terminology, Part 2
(Boldly Grow)
3. 🆕Dating And Relationship Advice - Weird Dating Terms; Ghosting, Kondo-ing, Dogfishing - Must Watch!
(The Relationship Maze)
(silverbutterfly1000 in English)
5. Don't you still know these words? - Big Glossary part 01
(Advanced Grammar Mentor)
6. Dating definitions, what certain words mean when it comes to dating.
(That Dating Channel)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Edwin Metz

Last Updated: 01/26/2023

Views: 6010

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (78 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Edwin Metz

Birthday: 1997-04-16

Address: 51593 Leanne Light, Kuphalmouth, DE 50012-5183

Phone: +639107620957

Job: Corporate Banking Technician

Hobby: Reading, scrapbook, role-playing games, Fishing, Fishing, Scuba diving, Beekeeping

Introduction: My name is Edwin Metz, I am a fair, energetic, helpful, brave, outstanding, nice, helpful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.