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Relationship Models

Relationship Models Have The Bricks You Will Need To Build Something Great: A Guest Blog By: Aisha-Sky Gates


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by Kim Coates in Guest Blog, Relationships
December 18, 2017 0 comments
You can choose the brick and mortar that will express your deepest desires in an intimate relationship. Deliberately choosing a relationship model means accepting responsibility for designing conditions for your relationship happiness. You can do it.


“We believe relationships that are deliberately, intentionally constructed are more satisfying, and more likely to lead to happiness, than relationships whose shape is determined by default social expectations.” — Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert, More Than Two, Thorntree Press, 2014, p. 12

This article is an overview of types of relationship models.

There are far more lifestyle choices than I represented here. However, these are distinct models or frameworks for:

  • organizing your relationship and giving it direction
  • giving clear definition to relationship roles
  • and influencing your decision-making to fit your values

Power and Control

Power and control exist in all human interactions. Your own orientation depends on both nature and nurture. This is where the relationship journey begins because considering power and control is foundational for determining what you want in an intimate relationship.

Egalitarian, Egalitarianism

Americans, via polls, say they want egalitarian relationships. They may not know exactly what that means but “equal” sounds good to them.

“Egalitarianism” in an intimate relationship has fairness as the core issue that it is trying to resolve. Equal authority plus equal expense in most things are difficult to maintain.

Over time, power and control in an egalitarian relationship will lean in the direction of one of the partners. Perhaps, it is a slight slant or a much stronger degree of deference favoring one of them. It happens. Statistics show that very few couples can ever stay truly egalitarian but, yes, there are some.

Positive Example:

a couple manages to split most of the domestic tasks equally and share the rest or pay for help. They discuss their needs on a continuous basis, including emotional needs and desires. They practice inclusive decision making. Their success is based on clear communication, honesty, and practicing equity. They think of their relationship as “egalitarian.”

Some truly egalitarian couples have very close, sustainably romantic bonds. Others are truly egalitarian but operate in a “good enough marriage” or roommate style with little or no passion.

Most supposedly-egalitarian couples are not honest about the power imbalance in their relationship. They are very aware of it but they are afraid to examine it. The truth might mean the end of the relationship.


Deliberate, consensual power imbalance is an alternative that suits some. “Power exchange” or “authority-based” relationships are not new but they are stimulating new interest. These tend to be steady, stable relationships because the partners practice:

  1. Good clear communication
  2. Negotiation
  3. Have relationship contracts
  4. Clear role-definition

They have an intention of:

  • empowerment of all partners
  • the pursuit of their combined happiness
  • and being purposeful

These relationships fall somewhere along a spectrum of deference. That is, a consciously-chosen slant in power and control is created and overtly acknowledged by the partners. The slant may be slight so that inclusive decision making looks similar to that in a truly egalitarian relationship. The agreement is that the leading partner has the last say. Or, the slant may be extreme so that consensually one of the partners has almost nothing to do with decision making that governs their relationship and its direction. That is an empowered choice and not a One Down position. Both partners feel honored to serve the other from these very different positions with different sets of responsibilities. Deference can, of course, be a negotiated slant somewhere between these two.

It’s all by agreement. Negotiating the terms of the relationship is what forms those agreements.

All such “unequal” relationships have an intention of supporting all needs of the partners but, perhaps, have a special emphasis on emotional/psychological needs
and desires. It would be assumed that the rest of their life decisions can be organized comparatively easily.

Non-egalitarian relationships can be adversarial, partners in consensual opposition, or cooperative, partners acting as a team.

Unequal Partnership is the non-egalitarian relationship model that I developed. The leading partner and the implementing partner set up a deliberate, consensual power imbalance and act cooperatively. Their agreements create mutual respect, relationship sustainability, and continuous support for individual growth.

You do not have to adopt a label to design a healthy, happy and stable intimate relationship.

All apply to same sex couples.

Non-egalitarian relationship models are in wide use, mostly without identifying labels. They are gaining attention.

Monogamy versus Multiple Partners


A single loved one for life is what the majority of Americans believe is the ideal. Dr. Deborah Anapol, author of Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits says “monogamy, though the only officially sanctioned relationship model in our culture, is in actuality seldom practiced.” Other arrangements with extra-marital partners are common. However, a minority of individuals really are monogamists.

Serial Monogamy

Some high number of Americans love many people but across time. These are a series of marriages or committed relationships instead of the one love for life idea. Many of these serial monogamists are happy having created a network of people that they care very much about plus children. Other serial monogamists are very unhappy with their choices.


Many Loves. “Poly relationships come in an astonishing variety of shapes, sizes, and flavors, just like the human heart.” It isn’t polygamy or swinging or promiscuity. It is “multiple loving, often committed, relationships at the same time by mutual agreement, with honesty and clarity.” There is commitment to deep emotional connection, to romance, to supporting each other’s lives. Sex isn’t essential.


“We believe that relationships work best when all the people involved feel empowered to help shape and guide their relationships, to advocate for their needs, and to feel that they have a hand in the outcomes.” Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert, p. 4

About The Author:

Aisha-sky gates

Aisha-Sky Gates is a relationship counselor and an alternative lifestyles counselor. She is the author of many articles and essays plus, Unequal Partnership: a dating guide for loving non-egalitarian relationships.

Visit her on Facebook and LinkedIn (gates counseling), at her Medium blog, and at her websites, and

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How to cut your lodging cost by 50% or more while staying in the coolest places in the world

Quit saying I’ve always wanted to do that and travel today within your budget!

100% FREE!!!
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