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Do you know what kind of relationship you have?

Do you know what kind of relationship you have? Identifying our relationship type can be an important first step in building happier, more fulfilled partnerships. Whether you’re in a passionately monogamous arrangement, or you’re into something a little more casual, when we get real about what our connection style really is, we can make the most out of our relationships and our romantic needs.

The different types of relationships.

Humans are complex, and the relationships we build are just as complex. Every partnership looks different from the one next to it. Some of them are happy, some of them aren’t. Some of them are healthy, and some of them are abusive. In order to make the most out of our relationships, we have to know what type of relationship we have. With this knowledge, we can maximize our love and our appreciation for one another.

Totally committed

The totally committed relationship is the standard and the partnership that many strive for. In this relationship, both parties zero-in on shared goals and build a life in that direction. They don’t want to play the field, and they don’t want to continue looking for love. All parties involve come together and make mutual agreements that help them create a shared future.

Embracing acceptance

Relationships can be committed, and they can even be loving — without being accepting. Accepting relationships are an elevated level of partnership in which we fully see and understand our partner for who they are. We want them to be authentic, and we love them for it. In an accepting relationship, perfection is never expected. Only authenticity and compassion.

Active and passive

Active and passive relationships describe a common dynamic that many romantic partnerships fall into. Generally, these relationships involve one partner who takes the lead when it comes to communication, physical intimacy, and even decision making. Meanwhile, the other person takes more of a (willing) backseat. They allow their partner to take the lead, as it provides them with a sense of comfort.

Active and passive

Active and passive relationships describe a common dynamic that many romantic partnerships fall into. Generally, these relationships involve one partner who takes the lead when it comes to communication, physical intimacy, and even decision making. Meanwhile, the other person takes more of a (willing) backseat. They allow their partner to take the lead, as it provides them with a sense of comfort.

Passionately monogamous

The traditional standard for relationships in the western world, monogamous relationships are the stereotypical one-to-one couplings we are raised to pursue. While these types of relationships don’t work for everyone, they can work for some. We should fill them with passion, though. And they should be created by people who have enough energy to meet one another’s needs.

Completely balanced

Another dynamic descriptor, “balanced” can describe a number of a different types of partnerships. No matter how you and your partner choose to connect with one another, there should be a sense of balance. You should both get what you need from the relationship in terms of connection, affection, support, and love. However that look, we should always strive to make sure we are giving as much as we are getting from each other.

Naturally casual

While we might spend a lot of time talking and thinking about marriage and other forms of major commitment, that’s not the right fit for every couple. Some relationships are intense and centrally focused on a set of goals. Other relationships, however, are more casual. There’s not a lot of commitment in these types of relationships. The partners enjoy being together when they’re together and don’t feel the need to owe one another a lot of explanations.

Toxic codependence

Codependent relationships are some of the most toxic relationships that we build, and some of the most common too. In these couples, one partner clings to the other partner in a desperate need to be supported. The other partner, on an even more toxic level, desperately needs to be needed or adored in this way. Together they feed on one another’s most toxic instincts and create poisonous dynamics that prevent growth and true connection.

Imbalanced dominance

Have you ever been in a dominating or domineering relationship? In this type of partnership one partner assumes all control, and they wield that control with an iron fist. The key aspect to note here is that the weakened partner doesn’t willingly give away their power. Dominating partners take what they want and will use whatever means they need to keep power — including the use of sabotage and terror.

Comfortable polyamory

We dwell a lot on monogamous relationships, but there’s far more to human connection than that. For some, polyamory is how they the comfort and the love that they need. Not to be confused with polygamy (which is the desire to have a legal and culturally recognized a multitude of spouses) — polyamory allows for more than a one-to-one emotional, romantic, or sexual relationships at a given time. All partners involved are confident and willing.

Abusive or toxic

The worst of all relationship types, abusive and toxic relationships are common. In these partnerships one partner dominates the other, but they use physical, mental, and even financial torture to achieve their ends. There are countless wounds caused by these types of relationships. And no matter how you look at it — it’s never warranted or acceptable. When you’re in a toxic or abusive relationship, change isn’t an option. Escape is the only viable route to happiness.

Making the most out of our relationships.

Once you’ve identified your relationship type, you can take steps to make the most out of the life that you’re building together. In my new relationship guide, Relationship Renovator, I go more in depth into how we can make more of our partnership types. First and foremost, we have to be honest, focused on resolutions, and committed to chase only what aligns to our deepest truths.

1. Be honest with yourself and your partner

Honesty must be the starting point of any relationship we intend on building. We have to be honest about what we want and honest with our partners about those things too. That means really questioning what it is we see ourselves enjoying in a partnership. Do you need someone who is physically present a lot of the time? Do you need someone more aloof? More in control. We have to have all these answers, and we only get them by being brutally honest with ourselves.

Be honest with yourself about what you need and want from your relationship. On the same turn, be honest with your partner about your expectations and needs. Don’t lure them into something you know you can’t maintain. Don’t promise them something you know you can’t give.

Honesty is how we build fair and stable relationships. When something goes wrong, step up and be candid about it. Tell your partner how you’re feeling and face the issues bravely as a team. The way you see things will change. Your physical and emotional needs will change. Be honest and up front with each other at every step of the way, and you can come together to overcome even the hardest challenges. We make the most out of our relationships when we’re honest with ourselves and our partners too.

2. Always seek accountability and resolution

No relationship works — no matter what kind of relationship it is — without accountability and resolution. We all get things wrong, and we hurt our partners and cross lines, even when we don’t mean to. The only way to move past these upsets without detonating ourselves (and our partnerships) in the process is by being accountable and seeking resolution over conflict. We can’t dwell on the bad stuff if we want things to work. We have to admit when we’re wrong, then want to fix it more than we want to blame each other.

As your relationships navigates through the ups and downs, you and your partner must always strive to be accountable for your actions, and focused on resolution. We have to rise above the petty and rise above our egos. That means admitting when we’ve crossed the line and looking for answers more than we look for revenge.

When you get something wrong, admit it. Fess up to the mistake and apologize to your partner when you hurt them. Likewise, demand that your partner be accountable for their actions too. Conflict will come. It comes to all relationships. Face it bravely and look for the resolutions more than you dwell on the problems. That’s the only way we can avoid the heartache, resentment, and all the other negative feelings that come with damaged relationships.

3. Don’t pursue what isn’t yours to pursue

Ending up in bad relationships comes down to the decisions that we make. We are never responsible for the actions of our partners. We don’t make them abuse us, and we don’t make them betray us. However, we do choose to settle for things that don’t suit us. And we settle for relationships we know are a bad idea. If we truly want to maximize our partnerships, we have to stop going for the wrong relationships in an effort to fit in.

Stop pursuing relationships that you know you don’t want. Stop settling for partnerships that are a bad fit from the start. You’re never going to be happy in a coupling until you stop investing your time and energy in couplings that don’t bring you joy and stability.

Don’t pursue what isn’t yours to pursue. You don’t have to build the relationship that society tells you to build. You don’t have to meet the standards of your parents, your friends, or anyone else who thinks they get to have an opinion on what makes you happy. They don’t make that call — you do. They don’t have to live in the relationship — you do. Be bold and brave. Build relationships that mean something to you and only invest in people who want the best for you as much as they want it for themselves.

Putting it all together…

Not every relationship is the same. Some of us value close and intimate monogamous relationships, while some of us enjoy something different. There’s no right or wrong way to connect with our partners, but we do need to be honest about the type of relationship that we’re in (or that we want). That’s how we make improvements that matter, and that’s how we find connections that bring us fulfillment and joy.

Are you in a balanced relationship? A traditional commitment? Is your relationship more of an open affair? There’s no right or wrong way to build partnerships that last. We still use the same fundamentals in order to strengthen our bond and grow together. Be honest about what you need from a relationship and be honest with all potential partners that you bring into your life. When things go wrong, always seek to be accountable for your actions (and encourage your partner to do the same). Instead of focusing on what went wrong, spend more energy figuring out how you put it right again. Don’t pursue what isn’t yours to pursue. Only invest your time and your energy into relationships that align with your true needs.

Need help fine-tuning your relationship? Get my partnership guide to improve the way you and your partner connect with each other.