Relationships of any type are unique and special to those involved in them. But how many types of relationships are there? The answer is related to how many people their are. As each person enters into a relationship their expectations are different and varied. This forms the unique mesh that is a relationship.

We can, however, put every relationship into 5 different relationship types. I'm sure there are more, but for the purpose of this essay, I will be covering the 5 types that I can see in this life. This is not the only way to look at and describe relationships, but it is a good beginning. I am not a relationship expert and what I am writing about is my own observations. If you feel that another definition fits your idea of each relationship type, then by all means, please use your own.

Why do we need to put ourself into boxes anyway? Honestly, we don't. So many people find it helpful in figuring out their own existence that we define ourselves to great depths to help us feel normal and accepted... even if it's just to please ourselves.

The relationship types that I'm going to talk about here are:

1. As equals 2. Male-led vanilla 3. Female-led vanilla 4. Dominant/submissive 5. Master/slave

Hopefully, you will see the differences that I see in each of them as I describe them. If you have any other ideas of each type, please feel free to make note of that in the questions below.


Most of the relationships that exist today are considered equal relationships. This means that each person has an equal decision-making right. Essentially this means that the couple take turns being the lead. It can be during bill paying or sex or any other house-making roles. One leads and the other follows, but it's seamless really. Both parties feel that they are giving and receiving equally and that is how communication and honesty develop.


Unlike their Dominant counterparts, a male-led vanilla relationship does not have defined roles. Instead, it carries an unspoken protocol much like a 50's style housewife and husband. The woman is subservient (not necessarily submissive) to her husband in all things. It is, however, a delicate balance between being in a male-led relationship and one seen as oppressive and abusive on today's modern society.


In a female-led relationship, the female is considered the leader. In 'progressive feminist' society, this is seen as a welcome sight to the previous male-dominated world. Society sees a female-led relationship as empowering to both parties and a move forward. It's established that the female makes the decisions in the relationship. It could even take on a reverse 50's household-like feel.


A Dominant/submissive relationship is one of defined roles where one is always the Dominant and the other is always the submissive in the relationship. One difference of this type of relationship and the vanilla counterparts is that there usually is an erotic counterpart to the roles; one that helps spice up the relationship. This type of relationship may or may not participate in BDSM or Domestic Discipline. The other noted difference is that there is never a relaxation of roles, where one party or the other may switch which is more likely to happen in vanilla relationships.


Considered a form of Total Power Exchange, a Master/slave relationship is one where a slave completely surrenders to the will of the Master. Different from the Dominant/submissive relationship by the stigma of consensual slavery and it's stronger service base. A Master/slave relationship is not unlike a Dominant/submissive one on many levels. A slave may not have right to voice opinions or provide input of any kind in decision-making. A slave may also be commanded to do things that submissives can negotiate. It's all about flexibility of roles. Master and slave roles are the most rigid, in my opinion.


The greatest benefit that relationships with defined roles have is that no one is left wondering who's turn it is to lead. Granted, I rarely have heard of a fight directly related to roles, but I have heard them about a purchase that wasn't agreed upon, a decision that was made without the other's input and even choices when it comes to children. In a defined roles relationship it's a lot easier to know who decides what and how the outcome will play out. No one is left questioning if this bill got paid or when a new Skidoo ends up in the driveway.

Another benefit to defined roles is that it can help enhance a relationship because the parties would work in a smoother fashion. Each knows what is required of them and performs their duties for the betterment and enhancement of the relationship.


Whatever type of relationship you choose, you can be sure that there will be personal growth and development that can bring your relationship to the ultimate one for you. NO relationship is worth it's salt without work from both parties, so get your gloves on and prepare to get dirty. Just make sure you know who makes those decisions.

Thoughts to Ponder

The following questions are meant for personal development of the essay above. They are provided to help you affirm what relationship type would work best for you.

  1. Which relationship type sounds the most welcoming to you? Why do you feel this way?
  2. Which relationship type sounds the scariest or most difficult to attain? Why?
  3. What type of relationship are you currently in? What traits would you add to these descriptions that I left out?
  4. What type of relationship are/were your parents in? Do you think their relationship type influenced yours?
  5. Can someone move in and out of relationships of different types or do you think people seek out one type of relationship from the start?

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