What kind of relationship between a man and a woman?

Types of relationships in a couple – create your own family rules

Professional copywriter with a degree in philology. I have a broad outlook.

Expert – Margarita Lopukhova

Family psychologist. For 8 years I have been saving “family units” from collapse. I help couples regain love and understanding.

When a man and woman create a couple, they establish certain rules of their relationship. Psychologists divide types of relationships in a couple and types of models. If you determine which one your union belongs to, you can look at it from the outside and possibly take steps to change your relationship.

Classifying Couples

As a rule, children take an example from the parental family. These types of relationships in a couple are distinguished:

In such a couple, you can clearly define who worships whom. One partner puts himself on a pedestal and accepts only unquestioning admiration and exaltation of himself. Why does he do this? By emphasizing the importance of his person, the idol feels demanded, unique, and raises his self-esteem. His mate, he repeats that such as he, she will never find. As they say you can’t praise yourself… and he praises himself, and the admirer must do the same. Marriages like this can end in a quest to expand the fan club.

  • Cat and dog.

As they are supposed to, lovers often quarrel, and they prefer a noisy showdown in public. Their family life is an eternal struggle. The peculiarity of the couple is that all their quarrels end with furious, passionate sex. Both partners are happy with their relationship. Problems can come if one person cheats, as trust will be lost and a hard breakup will follow.

  • Catch-up

The scenario is based on a game whose goal is to reach the other. One partner is ignored and the other is trying to get his attention, to get him to love him. Then they switch places. The other doesn’t want to show dependence on the person they love. This couple will break up if they get tired of switching roles.

Couples where one spouse takes the position of a parent and the other a child. More common is the “mother-son” combination, where the mama’s boy becomes the henchman. The woman takes responsibility for the man, and meanwhile he turns into a spineless participant in the process. It is also the other way around when the husband becomes the daddy. Often this scenario develops when one of the spouses becomes ill or loses his job.

It’s a union of true friends and one-upmanship. They agree in views and even resemble each other in appearance. More often than not, such relationships arise from people with sad experiences under their belt. And now they want to be sure of a safe relationship. They create their own world, into which they do not let outsiders. The only drawback is that a complete idyll can lead to problems in the sexual sphere.

This is an adequate type of relationship, characteristic of people who respect and accept their partner’s faults. They try to agree, hear each other and avoid conflict. Everything seems perfect, but the relationship lacks depth, which means they may never find out what is really going on in their heart.

Models of partner relationships

Psychologist Irina Kamaeva suggests considering a couple from the lowest level (where the partner is a means) to the highest (where the spouse is a value).

The family member is considered superior, the other is treated as a thing that does not have its own point of view, is not able to make decisions, has no feelings, no goals and in general is of no value. The partner owes and must do something all the time.

In families there is often:

  • Moral and physical abuse;
  • psychological dependence;
  • amalgamation.

The leader tends to dispose of the other, completely control him and decide for him what is best for him. This is a complete paradise of stereotypes, where the man is everything, and the woman must watch over the children and not cross them, or else she will get what she wants.

It is a hidden influence on the partner, where the interests of the other don’t matter. But the leader does it in such a way that no one suspects him of anything. Manipulation can be very subtle. For example: “You’re a mother.”, “You’re a man.”, “You’re over thirty.”, “Don’t you love me?”. The goal of manipulation is to achieve your goal through guilt.

The most common model of the relationship, which, of course, is not recognized by the spouses. There is a struggle not for death, but for life, for power, control, love. Who is more important and better. The interests of the other person are respected as long as they do not conflict with your own.

If their opinions do not coincide, they start to fight. In order to prove their rightness, they will do anything, even use manipulation. But they have a common goal – to prove their superiority.

These three forms of relationship are dysfunctional, but stable.

It is a happy relationship where everyone is equal, everyone has their own goals and interests. And they may not coincide. An important skill for a couple is the willingness to negotiate and to negotiate in advance. To create this family model, you have to learn to interact. Because every task is discussed, the interests of both partners are considered and decisions are mutually made.

Tip! To achieve a partnership relationship in the union, one should abandon the idea that loving people are obliged to understand each other without words.

The complicated model of the relationship, is the most ideal. Often spouses know each other from school, marry early and start to achieve everything together. Here the price is not material goods, but the other person. Neither financial nor housing problems do not affect the harmony in the family.

When people get married after the age of 20, it is difficult for them to achieve the model of commonwealth, because they have experience and an established view of marriage.

Knowing the types of couple relationships and models is important in forming a sober view of the family. Now you can determine which direction is best to move in. After all, if an ideal marriage exists, why can’t you have one?

Monogamy, polyamory, singles: what relationship formats are available

All are good in their own way, but not without difficulties.

Nadya Popova author of “Burning Hut” and a feminist. Trained as a sociologist, but chose journalism. I write about and for women, watching Ticktock, asking difficult questions to find an answer.

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Outside of monogamy, there are many more formats that can bring harmony to lovers’ relationships. We examined research on how they affect partners, the challenges they can create and, of course, the joys.


A relationship that includes only two participants. In art, pop culture, and psychology we constantly see an emphasis on monogamous relationships: we are encouraged to find “our soulmate” and live happily ever after with her. However, many researchers and philosophers agree that the spread of monogamy is not so much due to human biology as to external factors.

The philosopher Michel Foucault associated monogamy with the state’s desire to regulate social relations, to place its power within this small group. The German thinker Friedrich Engels, in “The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State,” said that the monogamous family solved the issue of wealth transfer, as its goal was the birth of a legitimate heir.


Emotional connection. Partners develop feelings of security and comfort. Psychologist and author of The Feeling of Love, Sue Johnson, says that monogamous romantic relationships are analogous to parental love because we find someone we can always rely on. In addition, there are studies that show that long-term monogamous relationships have a positive effect on health. People in such couples are less likely to be depressed, have higher immunity and heart health.

Economic Benefits. If you believe Engels’ rational approach, monogamy is also profitable – a joint household is cheaper than a single one, resources are spent on only one family or partner.


Jealousy . There is a paradox in monogamous relationships: even though there are only two participants, the level of jealousy is higher than in non-monogamous relationships. As studies show, jealousy affects women more. Fearing infidelity, men may exhibit possessive, controlling, and threatening behavior. Researchers have found that jealousy is the second cause, after alcoholism, of violence against wives or partners.

Studies show that jealousy is often not perceived as something negative. For example, scientists Silvia Puente and Dov Cohen found that people recognize male jealousy as a sign of love. Study participants rated men who were jealous and violent toward their wives as more loving than men who were violent for other reasons.

Alas, cheating happens, and often both parties suffer

The pressure of patriarchal traditions. Of course, not all heterosexual monogamous relationships oppress women. But it can be harder for a couple to overcome these norms.

Entrenchment with one person. Some people may feel “trapped” in a monogamous relationship, but they are afraid to change things because of feelings of guilt and insecurity. This was pointed out by psychologist Joseph Lawrence, who drew on the experiences of his clients. He doubts people’s propensity for monogamy because of the high divorce and cheating rates.


A marriage in which one of the participants has more than one partner. It can be polygyny (polygyny) or polyamorous (polyandry). Polygamy is formed by the traditions of a particular society: religion, customs, the needs of the economy. It may also be enshrined in law.

Polygamy is officially allowed in 50 countries, including Brunei, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, South Africa, Indonesia, and in Singapore, Philippines, India and Malaysia it is allowed only for Muslims. Polyandry exists in Nepal, Tibet, Nigeria, and Melanesia. South Africa has proposed allowing polygamy in order to achieve gender equality (so far only polygamy is allowed there).


Mutual Aid. Some researchers note that in polygamous marriages the wives may not only compete but also cooperate. Together they share child-rearing and household responsibilities. There is a hypothesis that in polygamous societies patriarchy is not as strong because women support each other. Anthropologist Helen Ware interviewed Nigerian women about polygyny. Many of them noted that having other wives allowed them to sometimes “take a break” from marriage and devote time to themselves.


Abuse. Polygamy is an unequal relationship in which power is concentrated in only one hand, most often the man. Studies show that in polygyny, women often fall under psychological, sexual, and physical abuse. They experience anger, jealousy, loneliness and feelings of neglect.

Women’s health risks. Polygamy can also negatively affect a woman’s reproductive health because families lack family planning and contraceptive practices.

Free relationships or open marriage

In such couples, partners may have an agreement to date and have sex with other people. Both have this right, but the lovers do not become parties to the union. An example of such a relationship is the union of the thinkers Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, who proclaimed the “Love Manifesto.” “To be together, yet remain free.”


Freedom and trust. As the experience of people in open relationships shows, honesty is valued in such unions. For example, if someone in a couple had sex with another person without talking it over with their partner, it could be considered cheating. Participants say that such relationships bring a sense of freedom combined with security, and also improve their sex lives.

Sexual health awareness. Because of having multiple sexual partners, participants in open relationships take the risk of sexual infections and contraception more seriously. Research shows that people in monogamous relationships who cheat are less likely to use condoms than those who openly negotiate non-monogamy.


Requirements for emotional intelligence. For a free relationship scheme to “work,” you need to remain aware, understand the limits of your jealousy and possessiveness.

Guilt. In addition to the difficulties that can arise within a couple, participants in an open relationship mention feelings of guilt to people outside the “core” relationship. Different expectations can be a reason for conflict. Not all “other” partners are aware of the “core” relationship, which makes the relationship unequal.

In personal experience.


A romantic or sexual union that involves more than one person. Unlike an open marriage, all participants are equal and involved in the relationship. Consciousness and honesty are important components of this bond: partners voluntarily agree to this format and negotiate everything they want in the union.


Harmonious exchange in the relationship. Studies show that there is more honesty, intimacy, sexual satisfaction, and less jealousy between polyamores than in monogamy. Sometimes in polyamorous relationships, the bond between partners can take different forms: for example, they build a stronger spiritual bond with some and a stronger sexual bond with others. Thus, polyamores do not expect “everything and at once” from one person.

Awareness. The experience of such relationships helps people pump up their emotional intelligence. They learn not only to understand their own emotions but also to talk about other people’s feelings. In addition, all participants in such a union are attentive to sexual health and contraception.


Equal attention to the participants. Polyamory requires more responsibility. It is important for participants to discuss doubts, find a format that works for all participants, and make time for all partners. They may begin to show more feelings for one of the union, and that’s already a problem for the others.

Raising common children. Difficulties arise if polyamorous families have children – they become attached not only to the biological parents, but also to the other partners (and their children). If partners change frequently, children have to go through the breakup over and over again.

Friends with Benefits.

A relationship format that involves close friends. They socialize, have sex, but do not commit to a romantic relationship. Researchers believe that people choose this format when they want to have sex with a “proven” person and avoid the responsibility that couples have.


Comfort and psychological safety. Friendship sex eliminates the need to spend time getting to know and looking for a sexual partner. Participants already trust each other, freely discuss features and preferences, which improves the quality of sex in the long run. Friends with benefits have no strings attached, and for some this can be a great relief: no need to remember an anniversary date or to deny themselves dates with other people.


Stalemate in a relationship. Even though there is an initial agreement between partners that this format “leads nowhere,” no one is immune to falling in love and wanting to build “something more.” A study of such couples shows that in most cases friends with privilege do not know what to do if one of the partners develops romantic feelings and a desire to build a relationship with commitment. Unfortunately, not all such stories can end as well as in the movie “Friendship Sex.”

Guest Marriage.

The hallmark: people enter into a romantic or marital relationship, but do not live together. Partners arrange for sleepovers or meet on neutral territory. But they can always return to their homes. Despite the seeming openness, these relationships are monogamous.


Maintaining personal space. Sharing a household and “fitting in” can lead to conflict in a couple, and a guest marriage helps avoid that. Partners don’t consider living on the same property a prerequisite for a strong relationship. A study of couples who prefer guest marriage shows that women choose this format so they don’t get all the housework, as people who live together do.


Finances. Despite the benefits of separation, living together is cheaper, so guest marriage is chosen by wealthy people. Partners may have trouble making arrangements for shared spending and appointments.

Jealousy. Partners may be jealous of each other because they are not in the same territory. People with experience in guest marriages say that trust is very important in this format, and if it isn’t there will be problems.


People who consciously give up on relationships. Modern singles were first described by sociologist Eric Klinenberg in his book Living Solo. He conducted three hundred interviews with singles and came up with positive results: they have a healthier mental state and a more diverse lifestyle. Singles were also talked about after an interview with Emma Watson: the actress called her relationship status self-partnered. Singles proves that you don’t have to have a soulmate to be a whole person.


Harmonious Personality Development. According to studies, people who consciously give up on relationships are not unhappy or lonely at all. They have more developed friendships and family ties, they are more attentive to their health. At the same time, singles don’t give up on one-night stands.


Discrimination in society. Although singles are happy with everything, they face singlism – discrimination against singles. For example, studies show that they are perceived as lonely, selfish, and less well-adjusted. Singles have a harder time getting promoted and are more reluctant to be housed. Psychologists Cheryl Kaiser and Deborah Cashy argue that “conscious” singles are perceived as a threat to the attitude that happiness comes with marriage and family. Because they don’t subscribe to the conventional paradigm, people don’t understand them and judge them.

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