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Defining Relationships in an Undefinable Society

man and woman holding hands

By Karlie Mickanuik

Love and romance have seemingly become undefinable as society has moved away from placing labels on relationships.

Polyamory, open relationships, long distance, and online relationships have become more openly discussed compared to the past. The idea of a relationship has become very different and is constantly changing as society moves to a more accepting attitude.

Seeing how much the world has changed, it becomes harder to define a relationship. So how as a society do we define relationships that are constantly changing and evolving?

Caren Anderson, a social worker at NAIT, explains that there is no real definition to what a relationship is.

“People are looking for some kind of connection with someone whether it’s physical or emotional, they’re still looking for a connection in some way,” said Anderson.

Decades ago online relationships were impossible as there simply was not enough technology. Cell phones and computers have come a long way, making connecting with people more accessible. It is easier to properly interact online on a regular basis.

Long distance relationships of the past are not how they are today with the freedom of social media and texting. It is easier to form a connection with someone on the other side of the world than ever before and although the relationship may not be physical, the people involved in the relationship can still feel love and it is considered a legitimate relationship.

Anderson’s says that although relationships have changed, the core roots of attachment in a relationship still exist in today’s time. Having a deep connection with someone is important for mental well-being and people’s happiness.

“[The need for connection] is something that is hardwired into us from a very young age, and we need that, we are social beings and we want that connection,” said Anderson.

Attachment looks different for everyone. People who are asexual, which is a person without sexual feelings or association, or aromantic, a person who experiences little to no romantic feelings, find attachment in different ways. Feelings of companionship, friendship and bonds with family can all suffice the need for attachment.

With the increase of acceptance of LGBTQ+ people, relationships have never looked more different and unique.

Charlie Marsh is in a polyamorous relationship and explains that there is no clear definition of a polyamorous relationship.

“There are many variants of polyamorous relationships that can ultimately only be defined by the partners themselves and their personal guidelines,” said Marsh.

Although romantic relationships look different than they have in the past, love, safety and companionship is important in all of them. As the famous quote from Lin Manuel Miranda reads, “love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love, cannot be killed or swept aside.”

*Some names have been changed to protect the person’s identity.

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