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Relationships uncovered: Playing the field, staying committed and spicing things up

Originally published in the November 12, 2010 issue

You already know the story – or do you? Boy meets girl, girl meets girl, friend meets booty, and girl meets boy 1, boy 2 and boy 3, but only on the weekends.

Ever since the primordial flirtations of Adam and Eve, the term “relationship” has taken on many different meanings.

To define such an ambiguous term is no small task. Sadly one must turn to urbandictionary.com to find the answer. The most popular definition says a relationship is “a legal form of prostitution where a female collects money, cars and other valuable things in exchange for sex.” Obviously, a lot of men frequently use this site.

But in reality, humans have taken it upon themselves to redefine a lot of terms, including relationships.

Since Urban Dictionary isn’t much of a help, here is a field guide to the confusing and sometimes sordid realm of bromances, break-ups and booty.

The Committed Relationship

This one seems like it would be pretty self-explanatory, defining your standard, boy-meets-girl, lovey-dovey scenario. But even the term “normal relationship” has become skewed beyond reasonable recognition.

Gay and lesbian relationships have gotten a lot of media attention with the prospect of the legalization of gay marriage. While this has not happened yet, these types of relationships are becoming more and more socially acceptable.

It is a fairly common occurrence to see two people of the same sex holding hands and expressing their love. However, some people still struggle with these types of feelings as they worry about offending those that are morally opposed to this kind of love.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on this topic, but from the gay/lesbian relationships I have observed, this sort of  relationship doesn’t seem that different from a typical boy meets girl scenario. There are still lover’s quarrels, dinner dates and the nauseatingly cute terms of endearment.

Even couples within the context of this definition take breaks, become on again/off again, and make arrangements to “see other people” on occasion.

Perhaps this is a product of our overwhelmingly non-committal society.

With the perceived increase in the divorce rate over the past few years, it would seem that many young people are turning to alternate forms of relations to avoid this troubling statistic.

Bisexual

This type of relationship presents its own set of difficulties. This is a coupling in which one or both members of a pair have feelings for members of both sexes. It can get confusing because in order to satisfy these feelings, the couple must see other people of a different gender, which delves into the tricky realm of multiple partners, multiple relationships and much confusion. Can a person be equally in love with two people of different genders? Or does this just add to the already stressful dating scene of the young college student?

Friends with Benefits
The parameters of this category are wide reaching, creating yet another ambiguous term. A definition on Urban Dictionary states that this type of relationship consists of friends by day, sex partners by night. This seems fairly accurate, but there is obviously a lot more to it than that.

The appeal with this kind of relationship is that it is a no-strings-attached kind of fling. It is meant to be purely physical and should not interfere with the friendship. But this equation rarely works. Physical attraction either soon blossoms into a passionate romance or fizzles out within a few weeks only to become the subject of your next Facebook rampage/Twitter throwdown.

Polyamorous Love
This is perhaps the newest form of love relationship on the scene. It involves a man and a woman, times two or three and not necessarily in that order. This is a relationship where there are multiple couples engaging in consensual relationships with each other.

The argument here is that you get the best of both worlds – a nice and tidy committed relationship and several on the side interactions in hopes that where one relationship is lacking, another will pick up the slack. This is obviously out of most people’s comfort zones, but it is just a testimony to the evolutionary nature of relationships.

Whether you prefer the comfort of a LTR (long term relationship) or are happier maintaining friendships while getting some stress-free booty, everybody needs somebody in college.
Love, lust or lunch date, the fact is a relationship is no more of a defined term than hope or faith, but with any luck will give rise to both.

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