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Relationships Within the Pagan Community

by Nia, Sibylline Priestesss

The following categories are not mutually exclusive, but rather are meant to allow a more precise definition of exactly what is going on. For example, a couple can be in a Primary, Life-Bonded, Semi-Open relationship and live as Hearthmates. All of the following terms are non-gender on purpose, and can refer to any combination of partners.

Types of Friendships

Friendship: caring, loving, and being concerned for one another and generally without sexual attraction.

Romantic Friendship: friendship + sexual attraction that is freely admitted, without engaging in sex or any overt physical expression.

Sensual Friendship: Romantic friends who flirt and have done everything but have sex.

Heart Friendship: An attraction, love, and commitment between friends, that is soul deep and at once passionate and unconditional, but is not expressed sexually.

Intimate Friendship: Heart friends who have a sexual relationship without commitments or restrictions. Sex is not the basis of the friendship and could, in theory, be terminated without damage to the friendship.

Sexual Friendship: Sensual friends who decide to have a sexual relationship without commitments or restrictions, but have more respect and concern for one another than "fuck-buddies" (self-explanatory term). Sex is not the basis of the friendship and could, in theory, be terminated without damage to the friendship.

Types of Love Relationships

Dating/Keeping Company: A casual relationship between two people who are sexually, intellectually, and/or spiritually attracted to one another. May or may not include sex or exclusivity.

Open: Loving partners committed to a relationship, who are usually sexually involved but do not desire exclusivity.

Semi-Open: A committed couple who have agreed to invite in another sexual partner, known as a secondary. The partners have mutually agreed to this decision and to a set of ground rules that address boundaries, conduct, timing, knowledge, and disclosure.

Closed: A monogamous couple who are sexual only with each other by agreement. They do not want other partners, consider the relationship to be lasting, and have a deep commitment to one another.

Lovers: A sexual relationship based on mutual love, respect and desire. Non-pagan usage often denotes a lesbian/gay couple in a monogamous relationship.

Group/Clan: A group of people who love, respect, and are sexually involved together in a committed, long-term relationship. There are an infinite number of ways to structure a group relationship, but all involve group consensus. The group can be exclusive/closed, open, or semi-open.

Primary: Original couple in a relationship who are committed to each other and to the relationship above any others. A primary relationship can be semi-open, the first couple in a group marriage, or lovers who have expressed a desire to remain together.

Secondary: A sexual partner who is involved with a Primary partner. They are not treated or considered less than a primary partner however their desires and needs must fit into the agreed to boundaries and dynamics as agreed to by the Primary Couple in order to carry out a healthy relationship. If a secondaries needs are not being met the relationship should not be considered healthy or viable. The terms primary and secondary often indicate who has been involved the longest or has given a legal or long term commitment.

Levels of Commitment

Engaged: A couple/group who has promised to exchange vows of permanent commitment to a relationship.

Handfasted: A couple/group who has exchanged vows of commitment for a year and a day, usually as preparation for permanent vows.

Married: A couple/group who has exchanged permanent vows of commitment for this lifetime "as long as love shall last."

Life-Bonded: A couple/group who has exchanged permanent vows of commitment for this lifetime "until death do us part."

Soul-Bonded: a couple/group who has exchanged vows of commitment binding them through this and all lives to come. (not common or recommended.)

Terms for Partners in Relationships, Not Otherwise Described

Hearthmates: Couple/group in committed relationship and are living together.

Soulmates: two people who recognize their deep and loving soul connection through many lives.

Brother/Sister: Commonly used to refer to members of the same group (coven, tradition, order), can be prefaced with "heart sister/brother" to describe a heart friend who is also a coven brother/sister.

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