Relationships become confusing when emotions blind us to their true purpose. Deep attachment can force you to stay in a relationship that was meant to end a long time ago, and pride can make you walk away from a person who’s actually your soulmate. At some point in your relationship, you’ll ask yourself, “Why is this person in my life?”
That answer depends on the type of relationship you’re in. There exist seven kinds of love relationships, each serving a unique purpose to your evolution. The one you attract is representative of the amount of inner work you’ve performed, the lessons you’ve learned, as well as the timing of your life. Reflect on your own relationship as you learn about the seven types to reveal where your love really stands:
A transitory relationship acts as a bridge between two phases of evolution, enacting change or easing transitions. Such a relationship can teach a person his or her first lessons in love, or it may aid someone coping with separation, loss, or divorce until he or she heals and feels ready to embark on new, long-term commitment.
Transitory relationships are marked by desire, physical chemistry, excitement, and adventure, but they lack dedication and authenticity. Instead, they mostly involve a love of the five senses. Such relationships often commence when a person is vulnerable or right after a serious relationship has ended. The partners in this kind of relationship generally don’t become too attached and can let go of each other without much trouble. No serious sacrifices or advancements are made in a transitory relationship.
This type of relationship is almost always temporary but serves a greater purpose in gently pushing a person from one chapter of life to the next. Once he or she evolves, however, the relationship typically fizzles out and is left behind. If you find yourself in a transient relationship, know that it is necessary, but only for the time being. Unless genuine emotions arise, your relationship will conclude in the right moment. Don’t expect devotion and undying loyalty or you may become discouraged. Simply allow it to run its predestined course. Try not to stress or overthink things; just have fun! This is your time to enjoy yourself and the person in your life until a better opportunity appears on your path.
A toxic relationship is like trying to mix oil and water; you can stir them as much as you’d like, but the two substances will never blend. It’s the most problematic of the seven because it operates at the lowest energy. You might ask why anyone would stay in a relationship that’s plagued by constant bickering and never-ending arguments, but you’d be surprised to learn what habit makes of us. Toxic relationships occur when two people who are simply not meant to be together try to defy all odds. On top of the partners being utterly incompatible, the chief reason their relationship turns sour is because they refuse to do their work. By being careless, negligent, and inconsistent, even two people who match well can turn a relationship toxic.
Neither partner in this type of relationship feels good or at peace. Even if the relationship is more toxic for one person than the other, both partners will feel a nagging sense of unease. Toxic relationships are identified by disputes over little things. The partners will turn defensive if not downright hostile toward each other, one constantly misinterpreting what the other says and does. One partner could be putting away the dishes and the other will chide him for putting them in the wrong cabinet. Bigger issues are usually also at play, such as cheating, manipulation, withholding, or abuse. It is both small and large differences that characterize a toxic relationship; it’s never just one matter. Ironically, at the end of the day the partners return to each other, sometimes like nothing happened; they’ve become dependent on their pernicious bond. Because no work is being done to resolve the plethora of problems, the next day delivers the same disasters.
This relationship will eventually end, most likely because each partner will have reached his or her limit. Escape from such a relationship is the best thing that could happen for both partners because it frees them to seek more normal and compatible companionships.
A stagnant relationship can start off great and steadily expand until it meets a plateau it can’t get past. Such is the defining feature of this type of relationship: hitting a brick wall that makes everything stop in its tracks. It’s not necessarily that the partners did anything wrong or that they’re not performing the right work, like in a toxic relationship, but that the relationship has reached its capacity. At that point, it cannot get any further. Think about what happens to a body of water, such as a pond, that doesn’t flow: it becomes infested with bacteria. A relationship, too, needs to stream forward with momentum and clarity, or it risks becoming lifeless.
Stagnant relationships are prevalent. I am frequently visited by clients who state their relationship was chugging along smoothly until it hit a bump in the road that caused it to come to a grinding halt. One client recently reported that she had been dating a great guy with whom she got along well, but that several circumstances prevented them from moving in together: either he had to move from his apartment or his daughter from a previous marriage needed a place to stay, preventing my client from moving in. The relationship was never able to overcome this hitch and died out. Another client stated that she had met a wonderful man online who lived oversees. The two chatted daily and felt a mutual, growing affinity for one another, but seeing each other was next to impossible: the pandemic hit and after a year of talking over a screen without meeting, the couple decided to date people they could actually see face-to-face. These are just two of many examples of how a relationship can become stagnant.
If the obstacle truly can’t be surmounted, then the relationship will come to a close. The timing depends on how long either partner wants to hold on to the other, despite not being able to take steps in the right direction. If you find yourself in a stagnant relationship, this is something you’ll have to evaluate for yourself: how long can you stand by without making progress? Even if it drags on for a while, a relationship that’s static will sooner or later dissipate.
A compromise relationship is the most common of the seven types. It occurs when two people form a union based on an arrangement of comfort, such as financial stability or social standing. Many relationships that are meant to end continue because both partners have become so used to each other that they find it difficult to part ways. In short, they settle for one other. They may share a house and children, which makes them feel further obliged to stay together despite the fact that they don’t feel fulfilled or fully in love. Relationships based on compromise keep us stuck in a comfort zone. It is crucial to your wellbeing to evaluate whether you’re truly satisfied with your partner, or merely comfortable.
Being in a compromise relationship can become stultifying and downright boring; most result in one or both partners straying outside for romance, excitement, and love. In the end, most also result in divorce or separation, simply because the perks of comfort can’t compare to a genuine connection. In my practice, I often hear my patients declare that their spouse is a great parent to their children and provider for their family, but that they know deep down their relationship is a compromise. They can feel this truth in their hearts but dismiss their intuition. The defining quality of a compromise relationship is that one or both partners feel complacent, but not complete.
This type of relationship can be complimentary, but more in terms of advancing in the physical world: generating income, buying properties, raising kids, and so on. Each partner follows specific roles and contributes to the success of the couple’s mutual goals. In terms of a relationship that’s based on arrangement, it is the free will of either partner to remain or separate. I’ve seen compromise relationships that have lasted a lifetime because neither partner wanted to let go of the other.
If you find yourself in a compromise relationship, know that the decision to stay or go is your own. If you crave a love that will nourish you deeply and wholly, you owe it to yourself to seek your soulmate (yes, you have one!). No matter how comfortable you are or what material gains you’ve made, it is your birthright to give and receive unconditional love.
A complimentary relationship is stronger than a compromise relationship but a step down from a soulmate bond. Complimentary relationships are harmonious and uplifting in nature, with each partner balancing the other physically, emotionally, and mentally. They can still share mutual interests like finances, but there’s a special spark in this type of relationship that’s not present in a compromise. Relationships that are complimentary are usually for the long term or lifelong; they generally remain consistent and don’t diminish over time like transitory, toxic, or stagnant ones do.
Those who are in this kind of relationship will still experience their share of problems. Because there is no smooth sailing in relationships, the partners in a complimentary relationship can still fight over little things, disagree on fundamental matters, and split up if they’re not mindful. Unlike karmic relationships, which are dictated by an action that has to take place, there is plenty of room for free will in complimentary relationships. This means that the partners should regard their relationship as a blank canvas: although you are a great match, the relationship will be what you make of it. Water it, and it will bloom. Neglect it, and it will wither away. Even though it will take a lot to destroy this bond, its integrity can still be broken.
The partners in this relationship can make truly beautiful things happen if they’re aware of each other. They can travel the world, raise a happy family, and making lasting memories, among other things. They can even run a successful business together. Even though they don’t quite fit like two pieces of a puzzle (like a soulmate relationship), the partners in this relationship will feel a substantial pull toward one another. Complimentary relationships remind us that our choices can be just as powerful as the hand of destiny in shaping the course of a relationship.
A karmic relationship is like a stage play: it involves some sort of plot that must unfold within the relationship, such as the breaking of behavioral patterns or cycles of events. This type of relationship denotes past lives shared by two partners, hence a strong feeling of familiarity or “knowing” this person from somewhere. Two souls that have passed through certain experiences together will find each other again to close what was left open.
A karmic relationship is almost always described as intense: when it’s good, it’s great and when it’s bad, it’s awful! But there’s instant magnetism from the beginning and the person is simply irresistible to you. This relationship can be prone to disagreements as the two souls try to find solutions to old problems. They may also feel a deep-seated desire to be dutiful or sacrificial for one another, sensing the need to cooperate to reach higher ground. Regardless, those in karmic relationships are guaranteed to learn a lot of necessary lessons, both as a couple and as individuals.
After the karma is settled, however, the relationship may come to an end because its role has been rendered. Sometimes karmic partners can also be soulmates. If they are, the relationship will endure beyond the completion of the karma. Karmic relationships are enriching, progressive, and enlightening, whether temporary or for the long term. If you find yourself in a karmic relationship, you have attracted a soul you knew before. Try to pinpoint the reason why this person is in your life once more: what is it that you must resolve, enact, or change in yourself, in each other, or with each other? For example, maybe your partner hurt you in a past life and now he or she must make it up to you by helping you in other ways. Or, maybe you had children with this person in a previous lifetime and you’ve reunited to start a family again. Karmic relationships are powerful and passionate and can be tremendously positive once you grasp the transcendent nature of karma.
A soulmate relationship is a one-of-a-kind bond reaching deeper than physical or emotional levels. Soulmate relationships are far and few but when they do occur, they often last the test of time. This kind of relationship is marked by a profound connection between two people, one that may even be difficult to convey. Soulmates just get each other: they can finish each other’s sentences, are best friends as well as lovers, and share an “us against the world” mentality.
When two soulmates have found each other, the feeling is likened to two pieces of a puzzle that align perfectly. Soulmates can’t wait to come home to their significant other after a long day and they may even be linked telepathically, one partner sensing what the other feels, needs, and fears at all times. They never grow tired of one another and can both work and play together because of how well they complement each other; one elevates the other in thought, potential, and ability. Perhaps most importantly, soulmates are on parallel paths and their lives and perceptions evolve in the same direction over time. Thus, the relationship is spared petty arguments and is bursting with compromise and compassion. This is not to say that soulmates won’t stumble into problems along the course of their journey, but that they’ll be able to resolve their issues more easily than couples who aren’t bound by soulful ties. Very few things in this world can break up two soulmates because their connection is otherworldly. Soulmates can also have mutual karma to work on, but unlike in a karmic relationship, they won’t sever ties once their past-life business is finished.
If you find yourself in a soulmate relationship, congratulations! This is the purest, highest, and most unconditional type of relationship that exists. Be thankful for your union, because many people wish they could meet their heart’s other half. Be as involved in your relationship as possible and dismiss insignificant problems from the outside world. Together, you are a sublime force. Treasure your partner and take joy in every moment by his or her side, knowing that your souls have reunited at last.
It can be difficult to disentangle our emotional knots and understand the core function of a relationship. Detaching ourselves from our feelings just enough to assess the authenticity of a relationship can make a world of difference in the quality of love we give and gain.
To good relationships,
Dr. Carmen Harra