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Author Topic: Your Ideal Relationship Model
bluejumprope
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With all sorts of movement going on with same-sex marriage, it's been on my mind to ask LGB people here if marriage is a goal for you. But, then I realized I'm really curious about how many straight people here want to get married too.

Really, what I'm curious about is what kind of relationships you most want. If you could have any form of sexual/romantic relationship(s), what would it would look like? Is it monogamous or not? Is it lifelong, or long-term, or just a few awesome days, or minutes? What's your living situation? How often do you see each other? IS being married important to you?

Does your picture of what's ideal for you now differ from the type of relationship(s) you'd like to have later in life?

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without tenderness, we are in hell. -Adrienne Rich

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Heather
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Great topic!

I'll pitch in. I came of age queer and always have been, but I've also been politically opposed to legal marriage (for myself: I'm supportive of married friends and those who want to be married) since early adulthood. And as a teenager, no matter what gender of person I was partnered with, it simply wasn't something I ever had any interest in or thought about in my relationship models. So, for me, regardless of what happens with same-sex marriage, and regardless of who I'm partnered with, it's highly unlikely marriage will ever be part of my reality or my ideals unless I or the world radically changes.

What has tended to work for me best, and also be ideal, is starting anything with dating where I'm not bound to only date one person. Then, when a really great interpersonal dynamic and chemistry comes along, and myself and the other person feel the same way about one another, going to monogamy with an open option to negotiate is ideal. While I've very much enjoyed some of my shorter or more casual relationships, there's a depth and a constant growth (of myself, of the relationship) I experience in long-term relationships I really appreciate.

But you know, it's tough for me to land on one ideal because for me, what's ideal so depends on what my relationship with someone is like, and what they're like. Right now I'm living with my partner, but in all truth, he's one of the few people in my life I have really enjoyed living with: with other partners, living separately has been a better fit. Same goes for longer-term, short-term or for how often I see someone: it so depends.

Which perhaps means that for me, for the most part, what is ideal in most respects is being able to create a relationship model that best reflects who I and the other person are as individuals and as a couple. I think my only ideal-for-everything is that when it comes to exclusivity, it's very important to me that's understood as negotiable/revisable for both parties. And no marriage: that's also a very hard line for me.

I think at my age and with my life experience having been what it has, I'm also part the point of thinking about anything lifelong as an option, or thinking about a lifelong relationship in the way a lot of people do, as something constantly ongoing and never changing. For example, what I'm in right now is the closest thing to that I can figure, since my partner and I first got together in '89, and are together again now, but in all those years, at one point there was 11 years where we didn't even have contact. All the same, it seems likely that in some way or another, this relationship will likely be part of my life for the whole of it. And when it all comes down to it, almost all the relationships I have had have been of value to me, so I know for myself that having been with only one person from when I started getting involved with people until now, and throughout my life, would have been a very different life for me, and probably one that would not have been a good fit for who I am.

I also am at the point where I can easily say that there's just no predicting what I'll want another 10 or 20 years from now. Certainly at 20 I wouldn't have been able to accurately picture what I wanted at 30. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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bluejumprope
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I guess I'll answer. [Smile]

Marriage has never interested me either. It wasn't something I pictured for myself growing up or have ever felt a desire for. Because of its historical meanings and because I don't care for many of the values associated with it, I think it would be pretty unlikely that I'd marry in the future (unless there was some practical reason why it was useful: immigration, custody, money stuff, etc.).

What Heather said about lifelong relationships got me thinking. I would like the people I really care about to be in my life forever, but the form that relationship takes over time isn't so important to me. If I was partners with someone for a decade and our lives were completely intertwined, and then our relationship changed to being dear friends who talked a few times a year, that would be fine with me. One of the things that suits me least about marriage is the ideal of constant companionship, and how it doesn't seem to leave room for a relationship's form organically changing over time.

My ideal is an open or poly relationship. Casual sexual relationships and being free to date as much as I want to is really important to me. And having a primary person who I feel deeply seen by and who is a fixture in my life is also really important to me.

So, my ideal model includes:

• A primary person with whom I have intense, deep, intimate, emotional and intellectual bonds, and who I just feel at home with. That relationship can be sexual or not. I'm currently in the most intimate, simpatico relationship I've ever been in, and we're not sexually involved. So, that's expanded my ideas of companionate partnership. My ideal in terms of living situation is having a separate home from that person so we can have as much time apart as we want, but living together most of the time.

• One-time hookups with people I meet online.

• Friends with benefits: friends who I'm really close to and occasionally fool around with, or have ongoing sexual relationships with.

• Long-term play relationships: relationships where our primary connection is sexual play.

• Since this is my fantasy, I guess I'll add that I'd like there to be vibrant, diverse, women-only (trans inclusive) bathhouses or other public sexual spaces in every city, which I could visit whenever I wanted. [Smile]

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without tenderness, we are in hell. -Adrienne Rich

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Love-Life
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I love this post, it's something I've been curious about as well. I personally struggle with the issue of marriage so it's nice to see what other people think about it.

My ideal relationship would be mostly monogamous meaning that if my partner and I decided we wanted to be with someone else for whatever reason it would be open to discussion. I haven't had many sexual partners and at this point in my life and I feel like I would be disappointed if I never got to experience sex with anyone else. If that makes sense.

I think life-long is too long. I can handle long-term, though the longest relationship I have ever had is 9 months... which is long-term to me. I can picture being with my current boyfriend until I finish my MA (which is another four or so years). After that I have no concept of my life, let alone my relationships.

I could definitely live with a partner as long as we had enough space. I don't need a lot - a one bedroom apartment would be plenty. Just enough space for me to be on my computer or reading with a door between us. Though one non-negotiable with me is that I need pet-friendly housing because I have a dog who I can't live without. And if I were living with my partner he would also have to be okay with that.

If we are living together, we would see each other every day. If not, I'm good with a few times a week. I usually stay pretty busy and don't rely on my partner for much besides company when we both have time. It's pretty negotiable for me.

Getting married is definitely not important to me. But I fight myself all the time because I grew up as a little girl in a gendered household. My mom stayed at home with us kids, my dad went to work. I watched Say Yes to the Dress and Top Model religiously in high school... Last year I took a sociology class which completely killed my vision of marriage. My current boyfriend doesn't want to get married any time soon but he does see it as something he wants to do eventually. I'm sort of willing to work around that, I do still have a bit of a desire to get married mainly because TV makes it look like sooo much fun! But I don't see myself as a bride, and definitely not as a wife. I just don't believe there is a truly non-patriarchal way to get/be married, and I've put a lot of thought into it. I feel like as soon as I say "I'm married" there's a huge amount of history riding on it... and I'm not okay supporting it.

As I mentioned before, I really don't know what I want for the future. I'm going to be in school for a pretty long time, and I have a hard time seeing past that. For now, I'm happy with how my relationships are. I think I would be okay with that in the future too but it's hard for me to say.

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There is an upside to everything, sometimes you just have to turn it upside down to find it.

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September
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I really like this question, but I'm having a hard time coming up with an answer for this. My own ideals, my family's ideals for me, and the relationships I wind up having all seem to be in conflict with each other.

In theory, I've been opposed to the notion of marriage since I was 14, when I started questioning my sexuality. Marriage was just one item on the long list of things in our patriarchal, heteronormative society that I started to feel very uncomfortable about.

On top of that, I also don't necessarily see the appeal of a static, long-term, monogamous relationship. I feel that such expectations really cut off all options for personal growth, and for the sort of organic changes that relationships/friendships tend to undergo.

My ideal, really, would be to have a handful of close, awesome friendships, and allowing them to naturally evolve from platonic to romantic to sexual and back again, without any jealousies or negotiations about 'dating exclusively' or following societal conventions.

On the other hand, I can also, in an abstract way, see the appeal of a life-long partnership, with one person as a fix-point in my life, someone I can always come home to. But I think this fantasy of domestic bliss I've created is also a response to the fact that I've moved once a year for the past ten years, which has left a lot of friendships and relationships in the dust. Some stability would be nice. [Smile]

The reality has been that I have had a lot of those friendships-turned-relationships-and-back-again, but with that, I've still always been restricted to monogamy (and quite struggling with it, at times).

My most recent long-term relationship just ended last year, and I've had a lot of time since to think about what I really want. My hope is that, in the future, I cam make more of a commitment to seeking out the sort of bonds that I'd like to have, vs those that are convenient, or expected of me.

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Johanna
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Atonement
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Wow, I feel kind of in the minority and old fashioned posting this, but I actually think a marriage would be a kind of relationship that would suit me well.

I've always been a very monogamous person. Even in friendships, I've tended to prefer to spend most of my time with one select person.

I couldn't do a traditional 50's sitcom marriage though. I like working, having money that beings to ME, and having my freedom. I would want separate bank accounts. My partner would have to be willing to go 50/50 with the housework, just as I want to go 50/50 with the work outside the home. I also am not interested in being a parent.

I've only had one sexual partner so far. And the idea of never having another one is something I'm 100% comfortable with and actually prefer at this point.

Now, being completely honest, the whole legality thing is not a big deal to me either way. But I know it'd make a big difference in the eyes of my family, and the truth is, If you really do intend to be in it for life, there are benefits in it being legally recognized. So, when It comes to that point, I'd definitely do it.

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Smiley64
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I'm in the same boat as atonement9.
I've only been in two relationships and they were both long term. The one I'm in currently has been going on for 2 years.
I prefer monogamous relationships, and during college and early life, I wouldn't mind living with the person I am in a long term relationship,but eventually, maybe mid-late 20s I'd like to get married. I hope to live in an apartment the first few years, and eventually move into a little house when I have enough money to do so. I'd like for each person to have their own job, and be able to come home at the end of the day and talk over dinner, and just relax and be intimate with each other. Basically, a pretty oldfashioned traditional scenario.

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~Smiley~ =)

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Obi
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For myself, I don't mind the idea of marriage, not necessarily to fall in line with some of the more traditional parts of it, but for the practical benefits given legally through being married as much as anything. In my case I'm fairly monogamous. I've tried being more open in my relationships, but it's just not something that I can really handle in my own life.

More practically, yes, I'd like to get married some day and it seems that my partner are moving towards a more permanent long-term commitment as we come to getting established in Real Life (TM). I'd be lying if I didn't say that eventually having access to the health insurance my partner is going to get at new job a year down the line wouldn't be very useful.

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kaleyedoscope
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I think I am old fashioned in the sense that I would love to be married one day. I feel like I would be incredibly happy to be a stay at home mom one day, etc.

For me and my boyfriend also, we're big believers in monogamy. As he said it, when he's with someone, he's with them completely and he gives them their all. As I see it as well, I don't think someone can truly be dedicated and in love with a person they're in a relationship with if they're still thinking about other people on the side/go elsewhere to get it.

I think that happens when you find the person who isn't right for you. But when you do find the person who is right for you, you won't want to go to any one else. They're it for you. They're enough for you. You won't feel like you're sacrificing anything. You may think about other guys from time to time but that's natural. I'm more than certain he notices other girls/probably thinks about them from time to time as well. But I know he is dedicated to me and our relationship and he wouldn't sway from that.

I do have an issue with friends with benefits, etc. because someone always ends up becoming hurt even if both parties agree to something "casual."

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Felixosaurus
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Great question!

From my perspective of someone who has been in a monogamous, hetero relationship for a long time now - I'm opposed politically to marriage, I don't think I'm personally that cut out for poly or open relationships, (but my thoughts on that may change, but not with my current partner). I guess the most important thing in any relationship for me is open communication, it's why I'm still very happy in my current one, and where previous ones (often) have failed.

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su
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quote:
Originally posted by kaleyedoscope:
I think that happens when you find the person who isn't right for you. But when you do find the person who is right for you, you won't want to go to any one else. They're it for you. They're enough for you. You won't feel like you're sacrificing anything. You may think about other guys from time to time but that's natural. I'm more than certain he notices other girls/probably thinks about them from time to time as well. But I know he is dedicated to me and our relationship and he wouldn't sway from that.

Hmm, I will have to disagree with that actually. My current boyfriend is my first boyfriend, and I'm his first girlfriend. We've been together for 3 years, since we were 15. We've been each other's first everything and we're completely in agreement that we want to be each other's last everything as well. Marriage is in our future, I'm currently second-guessing my desire for parenthood but those are all topics that can be discussed way later in life. Right now we're just more interested in travelling and going on various adventures together.

What I want to say is that I am completely in love with him and he satisfies me as much as I want. HOWEVER, just this past weekend, I almost cheated on him. (Didn't, though). I find myself always checking out other guys and thinking what it would be like to be with another guy yet it's never a mental or emotional desire, always physical. My boyfriend on the other hand, though he obviously acknowledges that there are hot girls in the world and I'm certainly not the only one he finds attractive, he's strong-willed enough to turn down lapdances in a stripclub from 50 Megan Fox look-alikes. He tells me it just doesn't cut it for him and that he doesn't feel fulfillement in those types of things. The only thing that makes him feel fulfilled is me. And I feel the same for him, just that, like I said, I sometimes get these strong urges.

Long story short, I think it's just easier for some people to be monogamous (sp?) without the fear of thinking, "What if I could have it better (sexually, physically, whatever) with someone else?"

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bluejumprope
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Hey kaleyedoscope, it's really not cool here to put down other people's relationship models or make statements about why you think other people are drawn to models which you don't like. It's simply not true that someone always gets hurt by a casual sexual relationship, or that everyone not wanting monogamy hasn't met the right person. Scarleteen is a diverse community where we don't always share the same values, but its really important that we create a safe and respectful space for everyone.

I also want to remind everyone that the purpose of this thread is to discuss what model YOU each personally feel most drawn to. What does YOUR ideal model look like? Part of that may involve discussing why certain models don't work for you, but please be careful to use "I" statements and not make judgments about other people's relationships. I really want to try to do the same. Thanks.

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without tenderness, we are in hell. -Adrienne Rich

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Heather
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quote:
I do have an issue with friends with benefits, etc. because someone always ends up becoming hurt even if both parties agree to something "casual."
Let's be sure to stick to "I" statements here, okay? By all means, if one reason you don't like a given model is because YOU have gotten hurt trying others, that's fine to say, but this kind of statement is judgmental of others.

Plus, there isn't a single model out there where people don't or can't get hurt, nor one where you couldn't find people who would say they did NOT find it caused hurt for them and others sometimes. For instance, you say FWB relationships always wind up with someone getting hurt, but of the ones I have had in my life, people have hardly ever wound up hurt, which I can't say at all for any of my serious, committed relationships. Mind, that doesn't mean I'm not still going to have the serious, committed kind, but still.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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marijke
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I identify as bi... but so far all my relationships have been of the straight nature. But... I don't think marriage is one of those things that is the most important thing in my viewpoint. A partner, a trusting one for life is more important than this institution of marriage. I think it provides a lot of legal advantages, but if those could be done away with, then I don't think that marriage has to come. I'll know when the time comes.

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Leave room for love in your life. It comes at unexpected times. :)
~marijke

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Lilerse
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My views on still developing on this, but right now I'm feeling very uncomfortable with the idea of monogamy for me. I feel that the main benefit I'd get from that (though it is an important one) is not having to worry so much about contracting an STD.
However, monogamy does not seem right for me, at least at this time in my life. I like men. I like flirting, dating, hooking up, experimenting. I never just like one person and want to have the option to date/hook up with whoever I want (as long as they want to too, of course). I don't want to be tied down. I'm young and there are so many possibilities. I'm too curious a person to be monogamous. (I also have very little self-control)

At the same time, I feel that the one thing worse than monogamy is cheating. It drives me crazy how so many people confuse nonmonogamy with cheating. Cheating is deceptive and unfair. But there's nothing immoral about sleeping around as long as everyone involved knows what's going on and is comfortable with it.

I really enjoy being single, but there are advantages to relationships that also appeal to me - support, partnership, reliability, emotional commitment. I would be more concerned about a partner falling in love with someone else than having sex with someone else. And yes, sex can lead to love, but interacting in any way with other people can lead to love - so monogamous relationships don't keep a partner from falling for someone else.

Unfortunately, despite my beliefs, I'm currently in a monogamous relationship. The man I am seeing feels very strongly about monogamy and feels that sex is sacred and should only be shared between two committed and monogamous partners. I like him a lot and don't want to stop seeing him but I feel a little trapped. I'm still getting over an ex (we were together a year and only broke up 2 months ago, though it's been a really drawn-out breakup that's really only been over for a couple weeks) and just don't know if I'm ready to commit right now.
I've been completely and totally honest and open with my new man about all of this, and he wants us to keep seeing each other. I have promised him I'll be monogamous and don't plan to break that (again I think cheating is very wrong), but again I'm feeling a little trapped/suffocated. My new boyfriend is everything my last one was not - he's very devoted and crazy about me and gives me everything. But I'm not sure that 's what I want right now. Yet I feel like I'll regret it if I pass up this wonderful opportunity with a wonderful guy (and I don't want to hurt him).

Oh, my life...
(sorry I made this so long!)

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Jill2000Plus
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This is actually one of the few things I haven't really talked to my boyfriend about, I'm very deeply in love, he means a lot to me, but I'm not sure whether I want a monogamous relationship for the rest of my life, and I feel really selfish for saying that and I'm afraid if I do talk about how I feel he'll call me some misogynistic slurs and break up with me, even though there's nothing I know about him that leads me to believe that's what he would do that fear is still there just because I kind of assumed that he'd expect monogamy when we got together and I tend to think I should just count myself lucky that I found one individual who loves me and is attracted to me because I can never let go of thinking I'm ugly, so it's all very complicated, I guess my point is I don't know if I'm happy with monogamy or not, I can't help but see the possibility of having very strong feelings of love for more than one person at a time, maybe I would quite like the idea of occasionally doing sexual stuff with someone else for variety and enjoyment, I'd never cheat on my boyfriend and I don't want to hurt him but I know this is a discussion I need to have and I'm not sure where to start... be honest like always is probably the best policy.

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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Klare
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This is a really interesting question, so I'm answering it with my very first post!

Several of you have articulated feelings that I didn't even realize I shared until reading the words. I like the idea of my personal relationships morphing naturally over time, without having some sort of pre-set standard to follow. What September said about having a handful of close friendships resonated especially deeply with me.

I'm a bisexual female who's open to polyamory, though I've only had experiences with long-term monogamous relationships with men. My current boyfriend is open to the idea of non-monogamy, though at the moment he's more geared towards an open relationship (where we can each have other sex partners, but no true boyfriends/girlfriends other than each other). I can easily see myself spending the rest of my life with this guy, but marriage? I've never had a real desire to get married, primarily because it seems like a lot of extra work (planning the wedding, all the files and forms) for something that I'm basically neutral on. I don't feel that marriage is necessary for a lifetime commitment, hence the neutrality. But my boyfriend wants to get married someday, so I've been putting more thought into it lately.

Ideally, I'd like to live in a house with a group of people that I consider to be my family. I don't want kids, and right now my boyfriend is the only person that I've found to be in this family. There would be no need for everyone in this family to be sexually involved with each other, but these people would definitely need to be comfortable with a non-monogamous and non-traditional lifestyle.

I may actually discuss this in another thread because I think I'm getting a little off-topic... but part of the reason why I don't think monogamy would work for me in the long run is because of my... libido? In the beginning of any given relationship, it's easy for me to think that monogamy might work this time. Everything is new and there's no pressure, so I'm functioning "normally" as far as sex is concerned. However, after a while the responsibility of being solely accountable for my partner's sexual happiness begins to wear on me. My libido suffers from that stress, my partner gets undersexed, and everything becomes strained. This is something that we're going through currently, so the dynamic of our relationship is likely to change soon. Hopefully in a positive way!

Anyway, I know that last little bit wasn't exactly answering the question, but I thought that it might provide some insight into one person's polyamorous motives.

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Lilerse
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"Ideally, I'd like to live in a house with a group of people that I consider to be my family. I don't want kids,"
Just wanted to say that this is EXACTLY how I feel. I have no desire to get married to one person and stay monogamous with him my entire life and raise one or two biological children together and do that whole nuclear family "ideal" - why not live with friends? Who says that isn't family?
Our culture's concept of family has always bothered me and I hope it is developing into a more open idea. People often assume that if you don't get married you're going to die alone. I am a very social person and want to live with people - just not a husband. A group of people who are compatible and care about each other sounds perfect to me.

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rambly_rosa
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I like this question =)

For me, I'm not interested in marriage, but I would ideally want to end up in a lifelong monogamous relationship - I love the idea of devoting/focusing my attention and love on one person only.

however... it would take me a LONG time to get to the point of being able to call my feelings
"love" or promise any kind of lifelong devotion. For me, love and strong bonds take a while to develop, and I can't be completely monogamous or devoted to someone if I've only been seeing them a few weeks or months.

So I guess my ideal relationship would sort of steadily progress from something casual/light to something more serious, as we learn more about each other, grow to care for each other more and experience new things together.

One other kind of random thing about my ideal - my perfect relationship would resemble more of a very long/close friendship than the stereotypical romantic relationship. I'm not so big on romance (I tend to distrust overly romantic partners, actually) - I like things to be very steady and relaxed; I don't need to be swept off my feet, haha. I'd want a very egalitarian relationship, and a relationship with lots of discussion about our feelings and thoughts and plans - everything on the table, no mysteries.

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Devanie
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I like this question, and I've been thinking about it for about a year now.

However, although my views might(but probably not dramatically) change, I'm pretty sure that I want to get married some day. I'm one of those people that has always known that they want to be a mother. And I wouldn't feel comfortable being a single mother.

So, basically, my perfect relationship would be a marriage to someone that wants to raise children with me. And loves me, sexually, romantically, and as a friend. And I love them in the same way.

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Janie Jones
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One of the first things my boyfriend and I talked about before we really started dating was what we were both looking for in a relationship. My boyfriend had had one long term girlfriend and a one night stand/hook up. The one night stand made him realize that he really wanted a long term monogamous relationship. I was/am in agreement. He is my first relationship, so I have no experience with other relationship models.

I am happy with the way things are now, but I am open to change. We love and trust each other so we can talk about possibilities of changing the relationship model. We have talked about threesomes, or me having sex someone else, mostly because I haven't had any sexual experiences with anyone other than him. Right now I don't see myself in any relationship model other than monogamy.

My long term goals are to move in with him, probably get married, and maybe have a family. I see marriage as a committed, loving partnership and a wedding as a fun party with friends and family.

I mostly base my relationship model after my parents and grandparents. Both relationships are and were equal, caring, successful, happy marriages. My grandparents were married for 64 years until my grandmother's death, and I think that my parents marriage will last the rest of their lives.

In any case, I think my own relationship has a strong base and will last even if we change the model; we are best friends, lovers and significant others. [Smile]

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I don't want you to settle, I want you to grow.

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SugarBuni
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One of the many topics that I constantly think about.

I've been engaged to the person that I think is my "soul mate" for a little over a year now. The only problem is that we both go to two different colleges about an hour away. We've been having our relationship for 4 years (since we were freshmen) at this same long distance.

Marriage is something that we both talk about alot. My relationship model would definitely be centered around that. My fiancée makes me feel safe, protected, loved beyond all reason, special, and just all around awesome. Thats the ideal relationship that I wanted since I first started high school and it turns out thats what I got (after a few weird ones).

I think that being able to handle the distance has only brought us closer together and continues to every day. The few times we are together are always special and cherished more because thats all we have at the moment.

I think that my relationship is very strong because we have an understanding of one another, passion, and friendship. We share some of the same ideas and values in life. We share trials that we've been through and continue to support one another in all that we do. I consider this to be my relationship model.

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- Save me, I'm lost. Oh lord, I've been waiting for you.

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marisafardella
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This is a really interesting thread. My ideal relationship model is monogamy mostly because i really like the idea of the constant companionship and closeness that it offers.

Its really interesting to hear about all of the other relationship models that are out there though. It just shows that everyone is different and different dynamics/relationship models will work for different people at different times in their lives. Thats something really interesting i have come to learn from this site [Smile]

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Ronlak111
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I fully agree with marisafardella, Ideal relatioship model should be monogamy. It is not viable other relationship but every people have to be choice of selection, they have to be living rights.

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Rons

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