As with singles, not all couples are alike. Relationship Coaching Institute identifies the following four types of couples:
- Dating Couples. Someone who self-identifies as “single” but has an on-going, non-exclusive relationship. “Friends with benefits” is one common way of describing these couples. These couples see the purpose of their relationship as fun and recreational. Dating couples often seek coaching when one or both partners want to take their relationship to the next level.
- Pre-committed Couples. Both partners have decided to stop dating others and become an exclusive couple. While co-habitation is common at this stage, no formal or explicit long-term commitments have been made. These couples often desire commitment and are testing their relationship for long-term compatibility. Pre-committed couples often seek coaching when they encounter a “deal-breaker.” A “deal-breaker” is referred to by Relationship Coaching Institute as a “requirement.” This could be preventing their ability to enter into a long-term committed relationship without sacrificing something important; such as whether or not to have children.
- Pre-marital Couples. Both partners have decided to become committed, but haven’t yet acted to formalize their commitment (marriage, commitment ceremony, etc). Many pre-marital couples are acutely aware of the high failure rate of committed relationships and seek coaching to acquire the skills and practices needed for long-term relationship success.
- Committed Couples. “Commitment” can be defined as both an “attitude” (belief) and a “fact” (formal, symbolic, even legal act). While most couples might think of their relationship as “committed,” if they haven’t acted to formalize their commitment they have the attitude but not the fact of commitment. Couples who have made a formal commitment sometimes bring up divorce in response to a problem, which is a less-than-committed attitude. This can be a cause of confusion, consternation and conflict. Most committed couples are married or have formalized their commitment in a ceremony of some kind. These couples often seek coaching because they desire to find a way to successfully solve problems and “live happily ever after.”