The Varieties of Intimate Relationship

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

See the image on its own

Something Spock might’ve knocked up in his first year at the Vulcan Science Academy.

That’s what I think when I look at this graphic. Now. Two years after myself and Laura Sullivan created it for my infographic book Information Is Beautiful (US | UK).

It’s been updated and regraphicked. I’ve folded in some new types of relationships from this awesome diagram from Franklin Veaux (via QuietRiotGirl).
Types of Relationship | Franklin Veaux (thanks to Elizabeth Dunn for sending!)

Sexperts! Let us know if we’ve missed anything.

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Show Comments ( )

  • miguel vagalume

    Actually the second graphic comes from Franklin Veaux’s (aka Tacit) blog , a sort of expert in polyamory. Here is the URL:
    (you can see his name and copyright at the upper right hand corner of his representation)

  • Tobias

    Lovely ovular visual reference there.

    The original source for the nonmonogamy diagram was, I believe, Franklin Veaux: – Quiet Riot Girl mentions it here:

    Franklin then upgraded it to a v2 with all the annotations – this is the one you saw I think:

    • david

      thanks for correction!

  • David

    You missed polyamorous marriage, which isn’t the same as polygamy. Polygamy is specifically one man with multiple wives (the opposite of polyandry: one wife, multiple husbands. And yes, there is at least one culture where that is common.)

    I’ve known people in a polyamorous marriage (though not legally recognized.) It’s when more than two people decide to marry, regardless of gender. Technically, polygamy and polyandry are a special case of polyamorous marriage.

    • Alex

      Erm… no. Polygamy is the ungendered word for multiple spouses. You’re thinking of polygyny when you refer to a man with multiple wives.

    • Erin

      Polygamy means multiple marriages, *not* multiple wives; that’s polygyny.

  • Quiet Riot Girl

    I posted thid non-monogamy map partly as I was wondering where ‘monogamy’ fitted in. Different states of relationship can’t live completely separate from each other, but if you showed monogamy to overlap with any of the forms of ‘non-monogamy’ it would by definition cease to be monogamy! So for me, making a visual representation of non-monogamy further underlines my belief that ‘monogamy’ in its pure form does not exist….

  • alex van de sande

    The second graph seems to be purposefully confusing for humorous reasons – but your graph is a little confusing for me. It might be something that would work better in a flow chart than a graph tree, as there are multiple paths to be taken. For example the loop between marriage and divorce is more like a loop than a deep root, and you – except for losing virginity – any of those spots can be reached from any of them.

  • Quiet Riot Girl

    I guess what I mean is that reality is not quite so beautiful as either of the two representations. all those ‘celibate’ categories for example: we know for sure plenty of priests and monks and nuns have had sex. so there should at least be a line from their circles to ‘cheating’…. don’t we all cheat in the end?

  • Amanda

    I think its an interesting and enlightening visualisation but would be interested to see it sized by frequency. I think the initial reaction of the iewer is that each of the different choices has the same credence. Is that the intention?

  • Alissa

    Is there no place for monogamous dating and marriage? I guess I’m off the map…

  • Mrs Mira

    I hope that second one is supposed to be for humors sake because it is confusing as heck.

  • Ian

    Is “Soft Swing – Public sex but only with each other” in the right chain? It seems to belong more to the monogamy group.

  • ascendingPig

    I believe “Unicorn polyamory” is actually specifically one man / two women. In the poly community, a “unicorn” is a bisexual woman willing to date both members of a couple.

  • Zdjecia slubne

    Male and female maps same? From my experience it’s completely different ;)

  • Wagna

    A great addition would be a link to the “Map of Human Sexuality”…also by Franklin Veaux.

    (Could not find the original map on his blog ?)

  • Gary Myers

    Looks like it’s time to remove “Don’t Ask” and “Don’t Tell” from the diagram.

  • Marnia Robinson

    You may want to add karezza to your image. It’s regular lovemaking without the goal of orgasm. For more: It seems to encourage monogamy naturally, while easing tastes for novelty. See:

  • Anonymous

    I concur with Ian above, soft-swing is a monogamous activity.

  • zdjęcia ślubne Łódź

    It’ s very interesting mind maps. I’m curious that is this male or female ?