ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What Kind of Relationship Do I Have?

Updated on February 21, 2019
rdlang05 profile image

R. D. Langr is a stay-at-home dad to one beautiful daughter. He has a background in psychology and an intuitive grasp of relationships.

A Myriad of Meanings

Today the term courtship has nearly fallen out of use except within more traditional religious circles. Dating, on the other hand, has come to mean nearly any romantic relationship, even one that is not exclusive. Even more, we have "friends with benefits" and other "it's complicated" situations.

Yet so many people have trouble defining the type of relationship they're in, and it is likely for that very reason that both men and women fear the dreaded moment in the relationship when it comes time to “Define The Relationship”. This article is for that very purpose, that by understanding what defines a relationship, you may be able to decide what type of relationship you're in. This, in return, will hopefully lead to better communication between partners, and thus better relationships in general.

Which Element is hardest to develop?

See results

The Four Domains of Relationship

Every relationship, whether romantic or not, consists of four different domains—elements that when evaluated on a spectrum, can help one decide how far one is in their relationship.These four domains are on a scale of 1-10, and increase as the seriousness of one’s relationship increases.These four elements are Commitment, Intimacy, Formation/Vulnerabilty, and Community.

Commitment— A mutually binding, entrusting, or obligation by pledge or assurance. A Covenant. Different types of relationships have different levels of commitment. If you are married you (supposedly) have an unbreakable bond and obligation, whereas if you are coworkers in a large corporation you probably have very little obligation to one another.Likewise, at different stages in a romantic relationship, it will be appropriate to have different levels of commitment.This domain can be used to judge how far you should go in the intimacy domain—if you are only a 2/10 on commitment, you should not be a 5/10 in intimacy unless you're specifically looking for a fling. The goal of commitment is trust and security.

Intimacy— A mutual sharing of self in spirituality, physicality, emotion, and intellect. Intimacy is the heart and soul of any relationship. It is a sharing of yourself in different ways: Spiritually, in that you share a life of pondering something greater than yourself, physically in that you engage in things such as hugging, hand-holding, kissing, and at the highest level sex, emotionally as you become vulnerable with each other and readily talk about your moods, pet peeves, and joys, and finally intellectually as you share with each other your beliefs, philosophies and reflections on life. As you become more committed and serious, you can become more intimate and thus share more of yourself.Finally, the goal of intimacy is unity.

Formation/Vulnerability— A mutual cultivation of characteristics and attributes desired for healthy relationships. This element is slightly more ambiguous.Simply put however, the goal of any healthy relationship is to make each other a better person, and in romantic relationships, it is to prepare one’s self, and the other for marriage.To clarify, this is about calling each other to virtue and holiness, not about changing the other person.We should all aim to become better people, while still keeping the unique (and sometimes annoying) qualities that comprise our personality.If neither person is growing in the relationship, or especially if they are becoming “worse” people, it’s time to call the relationship off.

Community— The involvement of peers and family in assessing and affirming the quality of the relationship. We alone should not be the only judges of the quality of our relationship.Many times love (or passion) can blind us to how healthy our relationship actually is.Your family and friends are those people who know you best, so in some cases, even though you may not agree with their opinion, they may be able to see red flags that you cannot.One warning though--be careful that their advice is out of love and not seeking to sabotage something good out of jealousy.If someone gives you an assessment of your relationship, take it to prayer and reflection. Community involvement is essential, and as the relationship grows, the intensity with which you will come to know your partners community should grow as well.On the lower half of this scale you should be seeking some “back-up” and support from your friends whereas on the higher end of the scale your relationship should seek the approval of each of your families.You will be part of each other’s family for the rest of your lives, and so it is necessary that you can at least get along.

How these Elements Apply

First, I think an analogy is in order.It is important to realize that the purpose of any romantic relationship is to prepare ourselves and the other for marriage.However, this may occur in different ways.I like to think of dating as a “caravan” towards the destination of marriage, and courting as a “carpool”.When we’re dating we’re both discerning marriage, but in an individual sort of way.When we’re courting, we’re discerning marriage, together, with the person whom we’re in a relationship with.In dating the four domains tend to be on a lower scale (from 1-5) and in courting they tend to be on the higher scale (6-9) with marriage (hopefully) being a 10 in all areas.Also, it is important to realize that while some variation may occur, these four elements should grow relatively together—you should not be a 10 in intimacy while only a 2 in commitment.It’s like Monopoly; you can’t build a hotel on a property without first building houses evenly on the other ones.Finally, each relationship is different: some relationships go right from friendship into courting, whereas some linger in the dating stages for a long while.

Is dating an acceptable alternative to courtship

See results


When dating your primary focus is on you, asking, “what should I do to prepare myself for marriage” and “what traits am I looking for in my future spouse”. These are how the various elements play out in dating:

Commitment: When you’re dating, your commitment level should be about a 4 or a 5, meaning that you both understand that you’re in a “romantic friendship”. At this level of commitment you should be aiming to work out issues that would hinder normal friendship—you are committed to spending more time with each other, a moderate level of self sacrifice in activities and time management, and work through any minor fights without the threat of “leaving”. This level of commitment will be a primer for the more serious needs of a courting or marriage relationship.

Intimacy: As a 4 or 5, physical intimacy really can be hard to define, especially if you don’t believe in sex (a 10) before marriage. A four would probably be hand holding with kissing at about a 7 (the implications of this would be no kissing until courting). Spiritually you should be attending services or prayers with each other but not sharing too many of your spiritual struggles or repeated patterns of sin. You should call each other to holiness without being too invested in the struggles of the other person. Emotionally you should be more open to sharing your moods and allowing the other person to help you in bad times, but should not be leaning on the person too much for great emotional needs like depression, anxiety, or other psychological difficulties.

Formation: When dating you should focused on 1) finding what and WHO forms you best (i.e. What kind of person do you need to be with), 2) knowing IF you’re even supposed to be married, and 3) knowing what you need to do in order to be a better spouse. Because the formation is still in the low numbers (4-6) you should be addressing general issues and not focusing (as much) on addressing the issues of your significant other (although we are called to help ALL people be better people, just in different fashions).

Community: Low-level community focuses on being accountable to and involved in friends and peer groups. An unfortunate amount of people, when they start dating, begin to neglect their friends and other relationships. That extreme exclusivity is not healthy.

Check out this link for more on courtship and marriage!
Check out this link for more on courtship and marriage! | Source


When courting your primary focus is on the relationship in general, asking, “is this the person I’m supposed to married”, “how can we make both of us the best spouses”, and “what do we need to work on in our relationship”. These are how the various elements play out in courtship:

Commitment: When you’re courting, your commitment level should be about a 7 or a 8, meaning that you both understand that you’re in a “committed” but not absolutely binding relationship. At this level of commitment you should be working out the more serious issues in your relationship—you are committed to spending more time with each other than a dating, but less than a married couple. This requires a slightly higher level of self sacrifice in activities and time management and you may actually start to plan a good amount of your schedule around this person. Finally, you should be able to work through any moderate to serious fights without the threat of “leaving”. However, if you are constantly fighting about serious or life changing things, it may be a sign that this person isn’t right for you. This level of commitment will be preparation for the more serious needs of a marriage relationship.

Intimacy: As a 7 or 8, physical intimacy can STILL be hard to define. Kissing may be considered about a 7. Concerning spirituality, it may be appropriate to share about and help each other through some of your more common spiritual struggles and patterns of sin. Still, be prudent about this and assess your relationship. You should call each other to holiness but not giving too much of yourself spiritually if you are still discerning marriage. Emotionally you can begin to lean on each other more for emotional support in difficult life situations like family death, personal illness, or other crises. You should be able to bear each other’s burdens more than if you were dating, but remember to seek professional help in things such as mental illness. Just because your partner loves you doesn’t mean you can both deal with it without certain tools.

Formation: When courting you should focus on 1) if the person you’re with is the one you should marry, 2) making yourself and your potential spouse the best person possible, and 3) learning how a healthy relationship (and marriage) should look concerning communication, intimacy, and commitment. Because the formation is now in the high numbers (7-8) you should be addressing specific issues and helping your partner wok on theirs as well. You should also be working on issues that affect your relationship as a couple.

Community: High-level community focuses on being accountable to and involved in not only friends and peer groups, but especially to the family’s of both partners. The couple should maintain interactions with friends, but at the courting stage should be getting to know each other’s family and eventually the two family’s should meet. This aids in accountability, peaceful relationships among families, as well as helping you understand how your partner grow up and was raised.

Is courting too old fashioned for today's society?

See results

The Importance of Each

While some would say that courting is an old fashioned tradition out of style in today's world, other's would say that dating itself serves no purpose as it not intrinsically geared toward marriage. However, I believe that both dating AND courtship are important and serve their purposes in different stages of life and the relationship. Every relationship is different and so they will all follow different patterns--these numbers aren't necessarily fluid and contiguous. If you've been friends with someone for years and then decide to enter a relationship, you may start off right at the courtship levels. If you're meeting someone for the first time and are interested in dating them to get to know them better, you may start out with dating level numbers, but with the purpose of courtship (Are they the one?). For teenagers, healthy (and sometimes supervised) dating can help them form healthy relationships, set boundaries, and find what they're looking for in a future mate. For everyone who believes not all people are supposed to be married, dating serves the function of helping to decide if marriage is for you.

Courtship, on the other hand, provides a safe accountability for discerning marriage with a person. Involving the family helps the transition go more smoothly for all parties involved and will help foster a loving extended family environment in the future. For those who believe that sex and other physical boundaries are best saved for marriage, the accountability of friends and family can help the relationship's integrity.

© 2012 R D Langr


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)