If you and your partner have any of these relationship patterns, except for one, it might be time to break up.
By Rebecca Jane Stokes — Last updated on Jul 24, 2023
Photo: Diego Zarulli/ Shutterstock
I am usually found sipping a cup of coffee while telling my readers that every romantic relationship is different.
And they are!
Maybe you and your boyfriend exclusively wear hats and speak in code.
Maybe the most romantic thing the two of you do is amateur plumbing together. That’s adorable.
Maybe you met heli-skiing and you enjoy wingsuiting together while yelling “I LOVE YOU” through the air.
I don’t know your life.
While every single romantic relationship is different in small ways, according to a 2016 study on relationships there are just FOUR different types of patterns that every single relationship (successful or not) falls into.
At first, I kind of thought this was all lies.
(Because I’m a jaded and skeptical Brooklynite)
But then I actually read the breakdown and was able to put every relationship I’ve been in one of the four categories.
Check them out and see if you agree!
If you do, excellent. If you don’t, I don’t know what to tell you.
Either way, knowing your relationship type is super important, especially if you’re just starting out.
Maybe you’ve decided that a dramatic relationship isn’t for you.
Then watch for the signs and can re-direct your energies toward the type of guy or relationship you really want.
Regardless, this info can be super helpful to help you fix problems with your love — or yourself!
Here are the 4 types of relationship patterns, according to research:
1. Dramatic relationships
34% of the relationships studied fell into this category.
And be warned, it’s a bummer.
Dramatic relationships are those that are characterized by having tons of changes in their commitment level.
You know the kind of relationship we’re talking about.
The one where you guys are all hot and heavy, but then “he needs space.”
Or, you go from being exclusive to opening things up, then back to exclusive when one of you freaks out with jealousy.
Dramatic relationships are just that:
The study found that couples in dramatic relationships were twice as likely to break up as couples in one of the other stages.
So keep that in mind the next time your BF says he wants to pump the breaks.
One time is fine, but is this a pattern? Can your heart take that?
2. Conflict-ridden relationships
12% of relationships studied fell into this category.
This one left a pit in my stomach because I think (knock on wood) up until now, it’s the kind of relationship that I’ve fallen into.
Couples in conflict-ridden relationships can experience changes in their level of commitment, but it’s not as common.
It’s more likely that there are issues they don’t discuss that are holding them back from marriage or from making a bigger commitment.
Couples in conflict-ridden relationships can get stuck casually dating, or living together for years without making a decision about marriage.
It’s not because they don’t care about each other, it’s because there are issues that they know they need to work on if they ever want to move forward.
The study did show that conflict-ridden relationships are LESS likely to break up, probably because in order to do that they would have to, you know, actually talk about what was going on with them both.
3. Socially-involved relationships
19% of couples studied fell into this category.
Socially-involved couples tend to make big decisions about their relationship depending on how their family and their friends see their significant other.
Like, you love your boyfriend, but you guys haven’t made a decision about moving in together because his mom isn’t crazy about you, or because you’re still waiting for your dad to stop shooting murder eye lasers at him.
I am 100% guilty of sometimes holding off on making relationship decisions because I care (maybe too much) what my family thinks!
Socially-involved couples can move at a slower rate than other couples but also have a lower break-up rate.
4. Partner-focused relationships
30% of couples studied fell into this group.
Partner-focused relationships are, well, exactly what they sound like!
These relationships move forward at a steady consistent pace because the people in them are focusing their attention on their partner, instead of on drama, ignoring conflict, or worrying about the opinions of other people.
Folks, this is here is the dream relationship pattern.
You want to be able to build something special with the person you love, and how else are you going to do that if you don’t focus on them and listen to them?
Of course, you should still have a life outside of your partner, but if you hope to make a long-term commitment, you’ve got to work with them to build it.
I love how every time I talk about building a relationship it kind of sounds like, labor intensive.
I don’t mean throwing around logs, just like, listen and stuff, guys!
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Rebecca Jane Stokes is an editor, freelance writer, former Senior Staff Writer for YourTango, and the former Senior Editor of Pop Culture at Newsweek. Her bylines have appeared in Fatherly, Gizmodo, Yahoo Life, Jezebel, Apartment Therapy, Bustle, Cosmopolitan, SheKnows, and many others.