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Types of relationships

A relationship means different things to different people, and what makes one person happy could make another unhappy.

What sort of relationship do you want to be in? Marriage is important for many people, for example, but not everyone wants to get married. Some couples want to live together and spend a lot of time in each other's company, while others prefer to give each other more space.

Everyone manages relationships in their own way. It's important to make sure that you and your partner want the same kind of relationship and have similar expectations.

Committed relationships

Being in a committed relationship means deciding together on the rules of the relationship and accepting them. It normally means being loyal and ‘exclusive’ to each other. You don't make out or have sex with anyone except your partner.

Commitment isn’t just about sex though - there's also emotional commitment. This means being honest about your feelings for each other, and trusting each other in all areas of life. It’s likely that you're in a committed relationship if you've been with the same person for a long time, made a mutual promise to be faithful, shared a room or a home, established close financial ties – or if you're married.

The easiest way to find out if you've managed to pass the commitment test is to have a talk about it with your partner. Evaluate what both of you want from the relationship and from each other. This honest and open discussion should show the level of commitment you have towards each other.

Open relationships

Couples who are in open relationships allow each other to date or have sex with other people. It means they're honest with their partners about sleeping with other people and ideally don't see it as a hindrance to their relationship.

There are different reasons why couples might agree to open relationships. Some people really believe in loving more than one person at the same time. Some are looking for the closeness of a steady relationship without giving up the thrill of new sexual experiences with other people. For others it could be because of lack of sexual compatibility, or living far away from each other. Or maybe they’d really prefer to split up, but because of circumstances – children, family, money – they choose to stay together but have other relationships too.

Some couples who find open relationships work out well for them. But many run into problems. It seems like an appealing idea at first, and you think you’ll be able to cope with the emotions. But in reality there’s no avoiding it: you end up feeling jealous. This can damage the whole relationship.

The best thing to do before entering into an open relationship is to have a long talk about it and share your concerns and insecurities. Then it might be good to test the waters by seeing how it goes for an agreed period of time before making the final decision.

Long-distance relationships

Long-distance relationships mean that the two of you aren’t living together because you have to be in different places. This means you can’t see each other so often. If you live in Nairobi and your partner lives in Kisumu, for example, you're in a long-distance relationship.

Relationships can go long distance for many reasons. It could be because your partner has found a new job in a different city or country or because you've started studying at a university far from home.

Today, long-distance relationships are becoming more common because of modern forms of communication. Emails, chats, video chats and social media make it much easier for people to stay in touch. You can even have cybersex with your partner to keep the spark alive while you're apart.

Before you go long-distance, it might be a good idea to think about how your relationship will change. For one thing, there’ll be long stretches with no kissing or holding hands or sex. You won't get to see and talk to each other in person for long periods of time.

If you can, try it for a while and see how it works out before you make a serious commitment.

Live-in relationships

In some cultures, it's OK for couples to live together without being married. In Kenya, live-in relationships aren't a socially accepted norm, but more and more young, urban couples are choosing to live together anyway.

Partners may choose to live together without getting married for various reasons. It could be because they want to maintain their single status, or because of financial reasons or because they're gay and can't marry legally.

Many people also use live-in relationships to find out if they're comfortable living together before they get married. 

Live-in relationships need a lot of commitment and many couples who live together don't see themselves as any different from married couples. Many countries in the West give long term live-in relationships the same legal status as marriages in case of separation.

Married relationships

Marriage is a legal union between two people, and also signifies social acceptance of the relationship. In some cultures two people can only start living together when they're married.

The decision to get married could be made by couple, or their families could also be involved. When the couple falls in love first it's called a 'love marriage', and when parents and families set everything up it's called an 'arranged marriage'. Many marriages involve elements of both.

A marriage is usually celebrated with a wedding, and married couples often celebrate their wedding anniversary every year.

Comments
Kelvoh (not verified)
Mon, 10/20/2014 - 01:16 pm

I see my love not working becouse my love is far away even we stayes for a month without meeting ad italked with her but there was noresponse am thinking for a divoce should i
zulu (not verified)
Thu, 10/23/2014 - 05:13 pm

Am in love with this girl.And when we make love,she complain thats am hurting her.she says that my tool is big and it hurt her.what should i do?
zulu (not verified)
Thu, 10/23/2014 - 05:13 pm

Am in love with this girl.And when we make love,she complain thats am hurting her.she says that my tool is big and it hurt her.what should i do?
Prayforus (not verified)
Sun, 10/26/2014 - 07:42 pm

I have been in a relationship with a woman 17yr older than me and never slept together in 1full yr we hv dated. Is it normal to be inlove were there is such a gap

Hi there, age is just a number, and love doesn't care about that number. Whether you are 3, 7, 15 years younger or older, it doesn't matter. What matters is the love and the relationship between you.
jane (not verified)
Mon, 10/27/2014 - 01:18 pm

my bf n i hv bin dating for a yr nw...we prmd nt to hv sex til marriage..bt hs nw insisting dat we must hv sex...my religious beliefs dnt allow me to do so...both of us love much...itold hm to tek hsleave...bt nw i just realised dat i want hm back so badly bt amnt ready to hv sex wd hm...wat do i do?am hurting....nampenda sana

Hi Jane, first of all, don't let him pressure you into having sex. It is your choice, and if you don't want to, don't do it. But sometimes, sex is such a big thing that people break up over it. it happens, even though it's sad. Have a look at this article, it answers your question, but from the man's perspective: http://lovematters.co.ke/news/love-without-sex
jane (not verified)
Tue, 10/28/2014 - 11:09 pm

is sex so dire to pruve dat u lov a guy..at first olmost all guys appear sweet n gentle n flirt alot..majority prms to wait for u to hv sex wd dem in marriage....then they suddenly change....aaaah yis dis so?u date a guy....follow so dip in love wd hm...onlyfor hm to demand sex b4 marriage....he leaves n uend up so heartbreaken...love hurts....

Hi Jane, ouch, sorry you have gone through an experience like this. Not all guys are like this... We're keeping our fingers crossed that the next guy will respect you like you deserve it!
geoffrey (not verified)
Mon, 11/03/2014 - 10:52 am

i have a girl who is my best friend i have been with her for 2 yrs and she want to come home to know ma parents and home and don't know how to do help me can i agree her to come
Esy (not verified)
Mon, 11/10/2014 - 10:16 pm

My bf has another girl with 2 children. He usually tells me that he lavs me more than the wife that nowadays he does not have sex with her bcoz of me but me make lav 2gether. I really lav the guy so much lyk he does 2 me plas the children. The problem i have with him is when he is @ home n i call him he talks with me lyk another person n not his wife 2 b. Or is it that he has not teld the wife about me. What can i do do i ask him to talk to the wife about me or not.

Esy, I'm sorry to tell you, but most men will not leave their family for the 'other woman'. He might promise, that the chances are high that it will never happen. So if you are okay with that, no problem, but if you are looking to have a relationship with him, don't get your hopes up too high!
Esy (not verified)
Sat, 11/15/2014 - 10:57 am

Thank u for the advice. The problem i still have is that this guy have promised me many things, he says he will marry me as a 2nd wife, he has promised to do any shopping and give me pocket money for my university studies next yr and in the next 2 yrs he will buy 4 me a car that i will be going with to school. He has also promised to start any bizines i want. So should i trust him or not. Am really confused n i dont want to break my heart by leaving him n starting a new relationship with another person.

Hi Esy, do you trust him, and think he is being truthful? Has he ever given you those things he promised? Do you love him? Do you want to be a 2nd wife? Do you see a future with him? Try to answer these questions, and any other ones you may have. And make your decision based on that. Good luck!
Esy (not verified)
Tue, 11/18/2014 - 04:17 am

Thank for the good clue u have given me. At list i have something in mind. Just giving him time come next yr to fulfill his promises coz i trust him. If he has not then i will just accept that he is not good for me and move on. Thank u 4r the good advice n God bless
Fay (not verified)
Tue, 11/18/2014 - 04:42 am

Y is it that the guys i have dated in my life (the previous guy before breaking up and the current guy now) have their wife n children. They all love me so much that they promised to marry me as 2nd wife. Or is it that its God's plan? Is it good to be a 2nd wife am really confused. Should i stop loving this current guy or not coz he has introduced me to some his family member and his friend to be the futer wife come 5yrs time coz now am still studing. Should i marry him?

Hi Fay, you are the one who is bringing yourself into these situations. Why do you have relationships with men who are already married? Is this really what you want? Sorry to burst your bubble, but even if they claim to love you, few would actually take a second wife (and, would you really want to be one?), and others will just keep on telling you they love you and they will leave their families, but they never will. Think about what you want, and make your decisions based on that.
AbdiSadq (not verified)
Tue, 11/18/2014 - 11:46 am

hae recently i meet a lady i love bt it had been 1mont since i know what she feels about our relationship last week i asked her about our relationship and she said she has no feelings to me.. bt i insist her if she can allow me chance and she agree...so what should i do for her to feel me?

Hi AbdiSadq, all you can do is be yourself. Be nice to her, ask her questions, listen to her and communicate well. Being attentive, respectful and communicating well will be your best shot- good luck!
Fay (not verified)
Wed, 11/19/2014 - 01:10 pm

It was not my decision to be in a relationship with married men. I met the guy one day and after sometimes we started dating. Later i found out that he has another woman b with 2 children but he prefers me to her. He confirmed by himself that it is true and by that time were in deep relationship that we couldnt be separated. We vowed not to keep any secreats and thats how he explained to me all that staf. At times i get confused to go on with him or not but at times am just ok with it that i will be his 2nd wife. The kids are very friendly and i love them so much. What can i do am deeply in love with him.
armnelia (not verified)
Sun, 11/23/2014 - 10:31 pm

Hey i hv my bf nd he has many galz as friends nd he kolz them sweet names nd he always says am the most special gal in his life so is there any capability that he might cheat me with his friends or help me coz am afraid
Ocs (not verified)
Mon, 11/24/2014 - 09:40 am

Hi...there is a lady i love so mch bt it seems as if she doesnt take ths serious as i do n this rily worries me....wat shld i do..plz hlp
Georgian (not verified)
Mon, 11/24/2014 - 11:14 pm

I've dating a guy for like five years now,we loved each other xo much and everybody knew except ma parents,,bt since last year the guy started having a funny behaviour which i didnt knw where it came from,,,i trusted him so much coz am always not around,for the last four years i wz in school bt now am jas at home so i thought we'll have a gud time together bt no coz he keeps on being pissed off by simple things and tries as much as he can to make an issue out of it so that we can fight(nt physically),i've tried to investigate if there is sm1 bt there is nobody,each time we break i feel horrible,same to him bt the prblm is i decided to let go of him bt i cant coz i love him bt am tired of on-off rltnsh,help me pliiiiz

Pole Georgian, that sounds awful! Have you tried discussing this with him? And do you think there is something you can change? Try to make a plan on how to move forward, but also have a cut-off point, for example, if things don't improve after having done x, y, and z, you should consider moving on.
Lizzy (not verified)
Tue, 11/25/2014 - 09:32 am

hey...I have this guy we met on Facebook ...after a period of time we started dating though we av never seen each other...wen I joined campus he started complaining that am not giving him attention he needs...all of a sudden he went silent on me..he stopped picking my calls n replying my msgs..this happened around 2013 Sept....now he is back..he wants me by hook n crook...am wondering wat to tell him Cz weneva I ask him he tells me Ati he was measuring how I love him...is it logic?
Bob (not verified)
Wed, 11/26/2014 - 12:39 pm

Iam in a r/ship with a lady;it's 15months now.She decided to leave her home coz her husband married another lady and brought her home against her will. Together they had 4 children. They were in a come-we-stay union for 12 years.Any legal advice please?

Hi James, pole sana! That must really hurt! It's up to you if you want to stay with her or not. Do you think you can forgive her and trust her again? Do you think she could do it again? Is your trust broken beyond repair? Give yourself some time to make a decision. Think it through. Good luck!
irene (not verified)
Thu, 11/27/2014 - 04:35 pm

i hav a boyfrnd whom am dating..the problem is while i make love or he makes me sad i always think of my ex who we dated 4 3 yrs..wat can i do 2 4get him completly if he eva existed in my lyf
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