Unofficially Official: There’s More Than One Way to Have a Lesbian Relationship

best iendsiends or EROTIC LOVERS??!!

Between facebook, twitter, and tattoos, a relationship is either public or it doesn’t exist. Sex is either meaningless or committed. Everything that happens has to be going somewhere. Is it really human nature to label and box all these relationships, or is society fucking up my game with its oppressive binary relationship statuses?

Perhaps you have, in the recent past, had an intense, intimate, friendly, semi-cordial relationship with another cute/hot/pretty/(insert aesthetic adjective here) person and are now wondering what it could possibly mean.

Hopefully it means that your life is about to get a lot more exciting, filled with lots of adorable chemical reactions that hopefully don’t leave you with any complicated by products. There’s no need to worry; hang out with this new girl, go to a concert, make breakfast, cuddle. You don’t have to give in to external pressures of labeling yourselves. You can enjoy yourselves without being monogamous.

On an even more casual note, you know that girl in your English class that you make eye contact with a few times every class? That is a real interaction. Eye contact is just as palpable as physical chemistry. Neither of these interactions may be on facebook or monogamous (you probably make eye contact with more than just one person ever), but that nevertheless does not suggest that they are any less real than your roommate and your boyfriend who have been together for six months. I mean, if the only ‘real’ interactions we had with people were serious relationships and we were otherwise alone, we would probably all be friendless, emotionally distraught hermits.

What are you, really? Lines can be a lot fuzzier than they are for straight people. These are confusing times, and thus I have compiled some possible relationship (or friendship) types for all of you autostraddling lovers and friendlers.


Friendship: Filled with platonic cuddling, honesty, and wonderful adventures. Friends are supportive, not judgmental, and are the best advice givers. Friendships can remain unchanged across long distances and time. I can go weeks without talking to my best friends from home, but when I do, it is as though we saw each other yesterday, picking up exactly where we left off. These friendships will last a life time, that is unless you fall in love with them because, well, then it just gets complicated. (see autostraddle dot com’s April Fools Day article on love confessions to best friends and on crushes)

Ambiguous friendship with a straight girl: SHE DOESN’T KNOW WHAT SHE’S MISSING. No, but seriously, I mean, I was straight before I met my first girlfriend.

Classroom crush: You’re sitting in the back row; she’s sitting in the row to your right, just a few seats forward. Her hair absorbs the sunlight from the window above her. She turns to make eye contact with you–oh wait, what was I saying? Right. Well, hopefully she’s queer and doesn’t have a 6’7″ tall boyfriend.

Friends with benefits: A relationship that qualifies as a friendship, along with some late night lovin’. FWB often develop after drinking a lot of tequila. Besides, who doesn’t love hooking up without consequences?

Open relationship: Through my own experience and friends’ experiences here’s what I have learned: open relationships are much like monogamous relationships in that both people deeply care for each other, maybe even love (scary, right?). However, this does not imply the demise of sexual attraction to other people. Thus, both interested parties are granted the freedom to pursue alternative, noncommittal, non-significant intimate relationships with other people. There are certain conditions to the open relationship, which based on the people involved, can allow it either to survive, or falter. The rules are simple (or so they seem).

Type I open relationship: The type I open relationship denotes that if/when one member gets down and dirty with someone else, they come clean about it. If you promise to be open (pun intended) with each other, then there is no need to worry when your lover says when she is “up studying late.” Honesty is the best policy. Or just leave the worrying to after your lover tells you that she slept with your roommate. Jk.

Type II open relationship: Both people agree that they are allowed to hook up with other people; however, neither wants to hear about it. Nevertheless, you should probably avoid seeing any of your partner’s friends naked. People talk. After all ignorance is bliss right? Right?

Polyamory: Having both intimate, emotional, open, and consensual interactions with multiple people. Polyamory includes the idea that, jealousy does not have to exist. (for a more in-depth discussion, check out autostraddle dot com’s ‘Polyamory 101’). Jealousy is hard to deal with. As much as I would like to pretend that I’ve never experienced it or never will it can be a pernicious destroyer of both relationships and friendships. But that is only if you let it.

Monogamous relationships: I don’t think I can go here until I’m older/mature/experienced/mentally stable.

Long distance: It better be fucking worth it.

Here I made you a chart, this should help:

right click to enlarge

No matter the type of relationship or friendship you find yourself in (or not in), communication is key. As long as you’re both on equal, honest terms, you’re better than 99.9999999% percent of others’ relationships. This list is by no means comprehensive; please leave comments about the unique relationships that you’ve encountered!

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Andrea Abi-Karam is about to graduate Boston University with a Neurobiology major and an English minor (they go together right?). For the past year and a half she has been Editor-in-Chief of the Quad, BU's independent online magazine for a creative and informative outlet of the BU community. Raised in suburban CT, she left the empty wasteland between cities for Boston.

Alex has written 1 article for us.


  1. I only just noticed there’s a ‘how to be gay’ tag. I love it. Some people need to talk to Lloyd and Larry from BIAC.

  2. That’s the most depressing flowchart I’ve ever seen. Did you notice there was no road that leads to happy couple? or…

    • The flow chart isn’t supposed to figure out the happiness in any given relationship, it’s about defining the relationship.

      • “Is she cute?” > No > “Keep your pants on.”
        “Ew, monogamy.”

        Just jokes though, keep your pants on ladies, lesbians are so easily offended…

  3. That is straight-up the best flowchart I’ve ever seen. I think Autostraddle should have a one-flowchart-a-week special about something. Anything. But gayish.

    • ditto…. and well I think I like what it said…. I think…
      Thanks again Autostraddle for living inside my brain!!

  4. That chart is the best thing I’ve ever seen on this site (except for NSFW Sunday)

  5. Andrea, I love you and the fact that you’re my roommate. <3

    I have one more type to add! The "ambiguous relationship with a baby gay/closeted girl", AKA the story of my life. I don't have to delve any deeper, do I?

    • Yes! Everyone needs one. Maybe someone can figure out how to clone people so we can clone Andrea and have all of the little clones making now-you’re-no-longer-confused flow charts for all of us super confused lezzies.

  6. It’s pure serendipity that you wrote this article/made that fucking awesome chart just as I am trying to get some from a girl I’ve mutual like with. You rock \m/ :)

  7. I am reminded of the just as priceless “Is It Sex?” flowchart. Autostraddle: you have, as they say, “done it again”.

  8. Poor maligned monogamy… Six years of guaranteed regular sex/boob touching; personally, I am not complaining.

    • ^This.

      My partner of 8 years and I tried polyamory, and while we enjoyed it, we realised lots of hot women are bad in bed. And we rather enjoy each other, problem solved.

    • Right? After reading this article, I felt like a bad lesbian for enjoying a monogamous relationship. I’m glad I’m not the only one…

  9. Things missing:

    Accidental bed-partners
    Prioritizing Friendly Shower Buddy
    Has a Boyfriend You Don’t Talk About

  10. Well this chart is fucking epic. Well done.
    Unfortunately I end up with ambiguous friends with a straight girl…damnit that always happens! I’ve been known to convert a few though..*fingers crossed*

  11. In between my liberal college friends, Dan Savage, and Autostraddle, I’m starting to wonder where the monogamous girls are? :( No rlyyyy. It’s not about being mentally stable/mature/etc. anymore than open relationships are. In fact if you are in an ambiguous/non monogamous/whatever relationship and are immature and emotionally unstable I fear for your friend/fwb :P

  12. hey ANDREA! you rock. noice chart. and noice “avatar” picture thing.

    …make out with her anyway.

  13. i think whitney of The Real L Word cudv seriously used this chart, she never knew what the fuck she wanted

  14. This is not for real. Autostraddle, you need to stop having such perfect timing with my life. It’s freaking me out.

    But I love this.

  15. Great. Now if only this flowchart could suggest an appropriate manner in which to jump from Type II Open to monogamous in a way that’s not stifling, too serious, or relationship destroying? That’d be helpful.

  16. I could have done without the “EW monogamy” (seriously, there’s no need to belittle people’s relationship choices), but otherwise this chart was hilarious! “It better be worth it” indeed!

    • ^ THIS!

      I was born to be a monogamous person. I just was. I don’t like open relationships because, quite honestly, I don’t share well with others. If you don’t want a monogamous relationship that is perfectly fine. However, the way this article was written, honestly, left kind of a bad taste in my mouth because I felt that it really put down monogamy and those that choose it. This article was the first AS article that kind of pissed me off and hurt my feelings..and I don’t like that!

      If you are going to talk about more than one way to have a relationship (lesbian, straight, bi, whatever) than you should, fairly, represent ALL types of relationships and not just the ones you are most comfortable with. In my opinion that is what true journalism is about – finding a way to state your opinion on a subject objectively, even if you don’t agree with it.

      I LOVE being in a monogamous relationship with my partner and I wish it had been more fairly discussed in this article instead of with “EWW Monogamy”! How unbiased is that really??

      • Since I know Andrea personally (considering she lives with me), I know she just put the “EW monogamy” for a lulz factor and I’m quite sure she didn’t intend to belittle it. She definitely does not look down upon others who are in serious monogamous relationships – it just doesn’t work for her personally. I’m a fairly monogamous person myself and one of our other roommates has been in a monogamous relationship for 2 years and I’ve never heard any sort of criticism towards our behavior from her.

      • hey! i understand your feelings kristy but i’d say the important thing to take from this article is that it’s mostly supposed to be humorous and entertaining! it’s not a be all end all situation where the author is implying this is the way things have to be or should be. it’s just her opinion based off her own life experiences, some of which happen to be quite humorous. i think the “STOP CREEPING” and “BAIL” and “keep your options open” and answers are pretty indicative of the non-serious nature of the article. just enjoy it for what it is and if monogamy is where it’s at for you then…more power to you!

      • Hi Kristy!!

        I feel like I’m probably a great Autostraddler to respond to your comment since I myself am in a longterm monogamous relationship that I am very thrilled with/excited by and know there is a bit too much monogamy bashing on this site at times.

        However, I think Andrea meant no harm and her feature was meant to be an opinion piece and her flowchart was meant to be humorous. She did state about monogamy, “I don’t think I can go here until I’m older/mature/experienced/mentally stable.” So there you go! No judgement!

        I have no interest in other women besides my partner and would marry her tomorrow and sign documents and tattoo her name on my forehead if I had to prove that (although I really don’t want to, don’t make me do that, face tattoos are gross). You get my point. If you had told me I would feel that way when I was 22 or even 26, I would have laughed in your face.

        Hope that makes you feel better and you won’t be mad at us for long!

        • I understand that this article was supposed to be fun and whatnot, but I thought it could have done that without the derogatory comments about monogamy. I just was not impressed with this article and felt it went in a direction I was not comfortable or happy about. That is all. :)

          • This was one of the most level-headed disagreements/discussions I think I’ve ever seen on the internet. That definitely deserves a giant, gold-plated comment award of epic win. Thank you for restoring my sanity for the day.

    • I think monogamy can be really great if you know how to do it right and really suck if you don’t. But then, I guess that’s true for all types of relationships. :)

  17. I think hookup has a different meaning on the west and east coast…

    regardless of that I seem to be in a really good sort of relationship where we both agree that ‘dating’ is stifling and if we want to spend time together we will; if we find that one day we feel comfortable enough with how things are going we’ll talk and eventually become exclusive/more committed. until then we’re just going to enjoy each other and our time and not feel the pressure or boundaries. (fear of being trapped yay)

    I really believe in open communication though. I know it sounds kind of dorky or something, but seriously, don’t hide what you’re feeling if it’s bothering you. (hello plot of every romantic comedy ever)

  18. I feel like monogamy has a lot of support from a lot of sectors so it’s all right if we poke fun at it now again, yeah?
    I’m a monogamous-type-person, but I still loled a little at “ew, monogamy!”

    Oh yeah, and it’s an awesome chart!

  19. Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker (for the Friends with Benefits).

    Great chart. Had to save that.


    Sadly this article came across kind of immature and rude, even if it was aiming for funny.

  21. I wish my ambiguous straight girl relationship would turn into something more romantic. I really like her, dammit!

  22. Is it bad if my current long-term relationship ended up with not “Ew, Monogamy”, ? ;)

    It wavered between friends and friends with benefits. Haha.

    • euw, monogomy – save yourself!

      jk :)

      but i totally love this flow chart. great job – wish i’d found it sooner!

  23. So…Type I Open Relationship and Type II Open Relationship, huh?

    Does that mean they kind of work like diabetes, then?

    jk! :)

  24. What would anything interesting be without a bit of complication? Only created by the human mind of course, but created none the less.. and doesn’t anything and everything have a perfect(or imperfect, however you see it) reason? Why label life? What is alive, what is dead sort of thing. Relationships are there. Dig it.

  25. Flow chart could realy do with a bit which says: Stalk her twitter and/or tumblr an see if she mentions meeting up with her girlfriend (or whatever) when you know she met up with you. Thats how I found out that my current girlfriend considered us officialy together, when I still though she only saw us as a casual relationship (im used to people being less interested in me than i am in them.
    Other than that…. I’v deffinatly got several friends who are going to be given a printed coppy of flowchart.

  26. You were straight before your first girlfriend?? Wow, you should definitely write something about that (if you haven’t already), because I like a girl who I think may be able to turn gay with a little persuasion (no seriously, she’s that kind of person, I’m not just thinking wishfully).

  27. What’s wrong with a committed relationship other then the word “committed”… is a double entendre ever more appropriate?

  28. I’m really into this girl who has a kid…I’m starting to get super attached to him and her. She has a boyfriend who she lives with, but she and I like eachother a lot. Any advice?

  29. Has anyone had/know any lesbians who have ever had a successful friends with benefits situation? Where it doesn’t get complicated and no one gets jealous/hurt/has feelings for the other person. How?!

  30. Pingback: What Does Unofficially Dating Mean

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