People have many different kinds of intimate relationships other than the traditional marriage involving sex, feelings, commitment, living together, getting and rearing children and taking care of each other and social life together.
Since the beginning of time men and women have formed different kinds of intimate partnerships, which typically include cohabiting, sex, commitment, caring for the other, property arrangements, maintenance, childbirth and raising children as well as social recognition and religious sanction.
The most common form of a partnership between a man and a woman as also between same sexes (in many cultures, ancient and contemporary) is some kind of socially sanctioned union called marriage. Typically it is based on monogamy. There are other forms of partnerships too, in traditional as well as modern societies.
Serial monogamy – This is actually the most common form of conjugal partnership in many countries. A person enters into an exclusive sexual and cohabiting relationship and when that breaks up, enters into a new one with a different partner. So, a person’s life history is a serial monogamy involving many partners.
Polygyny – When a man has more than one wives, it is called polygamy. When a woman has more than one husband, it is polyandry. Ethnographic Atlas Codebook notes that of 1231 societies in the world, 186 were monogamous. 453 had occasional polygyny, 588 had more frequent polygyny, and 4 had polyandry.
Polyamory – An arrangement, where everyone has multiple partners at different intervals with the knowledge of the others. Research in Nigeria show that 47-53% of men and to 18-36% of women engage in extramarital sex. About 500, 000 polyamorous relationships are estimated to be in the USA in July 2009.
LAT-Relationship – Living alone but together is when a couple decide to be committed to each other but live in their own homes. 2 million UK couples are committed but live separately, according to a 2005 Oxford University research by John Haskey.
LDR-Relationship – A couple are mutually committed, but live in different locations over long distances and typically communicate by phone calls, during visits or by electronic media. A 2005 survey by The Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships, estimate that 2.9% of US marriages are long distance.
S.O. – Significant other is a person one is dating, probably also while dating others but this person is achieving more and more prominence. S.O is also used when one does not want to disclose the gender of the person one is dating.
F***Buddy – Two people who often have mutual and exclusive sex but may not be committed to each other or romantically involved. One or both partner may also be involved with another person. Urban dictionary gives an alternative term – fornifriend. Other terms are “booty call”, “friends with benefits” or “ami calin” (in French).
One Night Stand – A total stranger one is attracted to by lust. One has sex with the other person and then both go separate ways without any need to know the other person and no strings attached.
Zip less F*** – The novelist Erica Jong in Fear of Flying (1973) coined the term zipless f*** for a purely casual sexual encounter with no strings attached. “The man is not “taking” and the woman is not “giving.” No one is attempting to cuckold a husband or humiliate a wife. No one is trying to prove anything or get anything out of anyone. The zipless f*** is the purest thing there is. And it is rarer than the unicorn. And I have never had one. – Erica Jong, Fear of Flying (1973)