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
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
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
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.