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20 Types of Taboo Relationships You Must Know About

20 Types of Taboo Relationships You Must Know About

Updated on Nov 15, 2023

Reviewed by Katina Tarver, MA (Mental Health and Wellness Counseling) , Life & Relationship Coach

20 Types of Taboo Relationships You Must Know About

The definition of taboo relationships is tricky as it depends on others’ mindsets.

Even if the couple involved hurts no other soul physically, emotionally, or sexually and are responsible and consenting adults… they still face a lot of opposition from their loved ones in this journey.  

Honestly, my heart breaks into a million pieces when that happens. Of course, I won’t say that all taboo relationships are good… but most are innocent. However, they still become others’ source of gossip.

So, whether you or your loved one is in some form of a taboo relationship, I’m glad you reached out… and in this think-piece, I’ll let you know everything about it.

C’mon, let’s start with what it even means!

Taboo Relationships Infographic

Types of Taboo Relationships You Must Know About
Types of Taboo Relationships You Must Know About

Taboo Relationships Meaning

Taboo Relationships are those that do not fit social or cultural norms, are disapproved of, and are kept hidden.

Taboo relationships are considered inappropriate by a certain culture or section of society. These relationships do not fit the cultural norms and are disapproved of.

Some common examples of taboo relationships might be your friend’s secret affair with their teacher… or your colleague’s extramarital affair with their boss.

It doesn’t mean the love between the couple is impure. But society cannot accept a romantic relationship between the two because of their ideology.

Some other factors for disapproval of such relationships are age gap, racism, or people belonging to different statuses.

However, a particular relationship doesn’t need to be considered taboo worldwide. Let me explain this with an example. Cousin marriages are common in Islam but a taboo relationship in other religions.

Moreover, with changing times, people are getting used to these kinds of relationships.

But wait, the mentioned examples of taboo relationships aren’t the only ones! So, let’s find out about them all here…

Types of Taboo Relationships

A taboo relationship isn’t a one-dimensional thing… it’s not just about a student feeling the butterflies when their favorite teacher enters or a secretary seducing their influential boss.

It includes a lot more… depending on your values some of it might make you scream “this is ridiculous” while others make you sigh “why does this even exist?”

But love doesn’t happen like that… right? So, let’s know all the different types of love that might make you an outcast…

1. A relationship with your teacher

Historical scripts and scriptures defined a teacher-student relationship as almost as holy as that of a father and son.

Even though it’s wrong to crush on a teacher, the thought disappears just as soon as the teacher enters the class. And astonishingly, their subject becomes your favorite one!

Certainly, this relationship is ethical only if the teacher and the student are adults and decide to stay together.

But despite that, does society accept this relationship? You can see plenty of teacher-student affairs making headlines in the media.

Society sees it as a taboo relationship because of norms defined since time immemorial. But love is beyond any limitations. So, if you think your bond is real, step ahead.  

2. A relationship with your second cousin

Well, if you judge this relationship by its name, you already know why it’s taboo. Some people cannot accept a romantic relationship among relatives, so it’s often frowned upon.

So, if you’ve been waiting to visit your second cousin and spend some extra time with them, then you are already falling for the trap.

Well, even if they aren’t your second cousin, but any other relative, this relationship is still considered taboo.

But hey, let me tell you an interesting fact. While these relationships are taboo in some countries, other countries encourage these relationships.

In some parts of the world, cousin marriages are legal because people believe it is easier for a girl to adjust to a familiar environment. So, if you’re already in one, I hope your relationship gets accepted!

3. An entry of a third person in a marriage

Nowadays, we often see the headlines, ‘A man keeps his wife and girlfriend in the same house.’ Do you get disgusted by such headlines? 

I know you will say it’s absolutely wrong. Some people will protest that if he loved his wife, why would he even have a girlfriend? And that’s perfectly alright too. 

But we must understand that different people have different perspectives. You can love multiple people at the same time (polyamory). And what will you do if you want to leave none? 

It doesn’t mean you won’t be attracted to someone else when you get married. But you must learn to control such situations. 

I don’t personally encourage multiple relationships. However, cheating is wrong… but multiple relationships with your partner’s consent aren’t!

If the couple is on the same page, who is society to judge?

4. A relationship with your secretary

Whenever someone asks you about an example of a taboo relationship, I am sure this will be the first one to hit your mind.

But why is it even taboo when two adults give each other’s consent for the relationship? Is it different from meeting a stranger on the path of life and just vibing together? 

Well, it’s important to maintain professional codes of conduct in the workplace. But apart from that, these two people have their individual lives and are allowed to live them to the fullest.

But society constantly judges this relationship as something that only lasts to take advantage of power.

5. A relationship with your best friend’s sibling

Now, the bro code says that “your siblings are my siblings and my siblings are yours”. But have you seen someone breaking this bro code? 

Did the episode of Chandler kissing Joey’s sister in F.R.I.E.N.D.S. strike your mind while reading it?

Do you remember how Joey was happy at first when he found out about the relationship… but the other friends scolded Chandler for the same?

Well, when Chandler actually hurt his sister, even Joey was upset with him.

Yes, I think we all fear hurting our best friends in the same way and, therefore, try to hide our feelings toward their siblings.

But, hey, in the same series, Chandler got married to another best friend, Ross’s sibling Monica. And did you see how beautiful it turned out to be? Why?

Because you have seen them in all their highs and lows, and you know exactly how to handle them. So, you are irresistibly drawn to them. 

Moral of the story: What the world considers taboo can also be beautiful.

6. A relationship with your boss

What do you call a person who is always trying to please their boss? There can be two possible answers: influencer or lover. 

Now when we talk about influencers here, they try to please the boss in every possible way only to get a promotion or a salary hike.

They’ll run after the boss or nod after their statements. This unprofessional behavior is why a relationship with a boss is considered taboo.

When we talk about the other possibility of being a lover, the world will still talk about you as an influencer. People will tag you with different names and speak behind your back.

You may also hear that you pretend to love your boss or seduce them only for their power.

But if you’re truly in love, don’t let such discouraging words shatter your spirit. Talk to your boss if they are on the same page and ready to make your relationship public.

7. A relationship with your psychologist

Let’s accept that everyone yearns for someone that understands them. You want to be in a romantic relationship with someone who doesn’t try to change you and accepts you for you. 

Couples often break up because of a lack of understanding. They go through heartbreaks, get into depression, and approach psychologists for their healing.

Here, they speak their hearts out, and the psychologist understands them and helps them move on from the relationship. 

But, in this process, people often fall in love with their psychologists because they finally find someone who understands them. 

If you’re in the same position, don’t hesitate to talk to them… whether there’s a chance or not, get on with it!

8. A relationship with your ex-lover’s friend

This is another popular taboo relationship example. After your breakup, you are no longer answerable to your ex for whom you date. And if you have feelings for their best friend, why even think before making a move? 

In fact, there is a high probability of loving your ex-lover’s best friends because you guys know each other well. You have even worked like a team in planning your ex’s birthday parties or teasing sessions. So, you already gel up well, don’t you? 

Well, people may call it a taboo relationship because it will invite a lot of post-breakup dramas, but who cares?

If you are true about your feelings, you will have all the energy to ignore such negativity around you and love your new partner.

9. A relationship where the age gap is more

While looking for a marriage prospect, people seek partners of almost the same age.

But why?

Well, historically, people sought partners of the same age to avoid fertility issues, develop an understanding, avoid fights, and other similar reasons.

But did all these marriages last? If these similar age group marriages were so perfect, why were there so many divorces?

Nobody can answer these questions. After all, it’s all about the love and understanding you develop with time.

So, even if society sees your partner as your child if you date someone much younger than you, let it be. If you date someone way too older than you and people call you their (sugar) baby, take pride in it. Because love is beyond age boundaries. 

Fortunately, these days, people started abolishing this one from these taboo relationships and are accepting the age-gap factor. Today, we find many celebs marrying someone too old or too young than them.

10. A polyamorous relationship 

In a polyamorous relationship, a person has more than one partner to whom they are emotionally attracted.

An open/polyamorous couple often faces too much criticism…  because society can’t accept any form of non-monogamy.

They are often denied entry into the houses because they are considered an ill influence. But hey, if their partner doesn’t mind an open relationship, why should we judge? 

People often criticize this relationship because they cannot accept people sharing their partners with someone else. But if you and your partner are comfortable with it, you can keep others’ opinions at bay.

11. An LGBTQ relationship

It’s saddening to know that the LGBTQ community still struggles to talk about their rights to love anyone. We are in the 21st century and still guide people to follow the irrational standards of society only because they have been followed since time immemorial. 

It’s important to understand that every person must be given the freedom to choose their love partner. When love is such a pure feeling in our religions, why is gender even making a difference? 

An LGBTQ couple still faces the tag of a taboo relationship (in many areas of the globe) and finds difficulties looking for homes because society and religions don’t accept them as a couple.

But hey, dear, your love is beyond these ill-defined shackles, so please don’t get demotivated and love your partner wholeheartedly.

12. A relationship with your customer

No matter what profession you belong to, if you build any relationship with your customer, it will be a taboo relationship. 

Some evergreen examples of such relationships are those between doctor and patient, lawyer and client.

This is because they spend some extra time together and talk about their problems or are passionate about the same things, they feel they are in love. 

Society criticizes such relationships as they consider them as taking advantage of your profession. But if you met your soulmate as your customer, be prepared to face the world and accept your love.

13. A relationship with your co-worker

When we are at our workplace, our co-workers are our family. So, if having a relationship with the family is taboo, similarly, having a relationship with a co-worker is also a taboo relationship. 

People label it taboo because they see a romantic relationship formed among family members, which is beyond the rules of society.  

Many offices also have a rule that an employee’s spouse cannot work in the same organization, department, or branch.

Alternatively, many offices also have a rule stating that if two employees of the same company decide to get married, one of them must resign. 

This is also because if the relationship gets affected, their compatibility as co-workers will be disturbed… Moreover, other coworkers might also be disturbed and judge each other.

However, if you maintain professional standards at your workplace, it mustn’t be a big problem. 

14. A relationship with your neighbor

This relationship is psychological. When you see a person often, you feel attracted to them.

Society may call it a taboo relationship, infatuation, or an opportunity you took advantage of… as such relationships heat up easily and chances of physical contact increase.

Moreover, your parents may feel betrayed as they trust the neighbors. Hence, convincing them becomes problematic.

However, if you don’t share a good bond with your neighbor and still choose them to be your partner, you’ll have more difficulties on your way.

But if it’s true love, sit with your parents and explain that it’s beyond infatuation. And I am sure, they’ll respect your feelings.

15. A relationship with a committed person

Just because the object of your affection is committed, it doesn’t mean you cannot love them. But when the feelings are mutual, society calls it a taboo relationship.

It’s because someone else’s emotions are involved. They see you as a third wheel which disturbs that couple. 

You may say that you don’t send flirty messages or make physical contact. But it is still a taboo relationship because they will never be yours entirely.

If they are so much in love with you, they’ll either break up with their official partner or with you. Else, why’d they let you suffer and be everyone’s target?

So, ask if they are ready to leave the other person for you and start a new life together. If they say yes, society will automatically accept your relationship.

16. A relationship outside your religion

You are helpless if some people are very extremely rigid about their religion. They think their religion is superior to others and cannot accept people from other religions.

But what difference does having a partner from some other religion make? Is it written in any holy scripture that your soulmate must be from your religion only? Or do people from different religions are different anatomically?

Such taboos are created from a person’s mindset and have nothing to do with a pure relationship based on love. So, try to match your understanding while finding your soulmate, not your religion.

17. A relationship with your friend’s ex

A relationship with your friend’s ex always falls on the taboo relationship list because they will feel you value a romantic relationship more than friendship. Plus, you ditched your friend only to be with another person or went behind their back. 

You’ll be criticized when you date your friend’s ex… and that’s just the bare minimum. But, take it off one ear because it really doesn’t have to matter much if you two love each other. 

If your friend and their ex didn’t match well, it doesn’t mean your relationship will fail. Possibly you find your soul mate in them. So, overlook all negativities about this taboo relationship and focus on evolving your love.

18. A relationship with a jerk

Suppose you’re dating a jerk (player) or someone who keeps changing their partner frequently. In that case, people will see you as a part of a taboo relationship. 

Even if this person loves you truly and promises to have changed, society will still not accept your love because of your partner’s impression.

This is because they kept changing their partners, and people had no respect left for them. They think your partner only knows how to play with others’ feelings and eventually will play with yours too. 

Due to your partner’s past, you will also lose respect. Gradually, you may notice people starting to consider you a jerk too.

It will become difficult for you two to make public appearances because society will consider your relationship unholy. Despite knowing all this, your heart will yearn for them in your life.

19. A relationship only for sex

Well, in most countries, even talking about sex is considered taboo. Do you think people in such countries can accept a relationship revolving only around sex? 

Even if you tell your friend that you are with someone because the sex is pleasurable, they’ll ask you to quit it. They’ll lose respect for you because there’s no love in the relationship…. and you prioritize your carnal needs more. Nobody will understand that sex is a form of love.

You will hear others saying and trying to manipulate you that there’s nothing common between you two, so it won’t work.

You know these facts, too, because you run out of topics to talk about except sex. But you’re still there for your sexual satisfaction. 

Teenagers also call such relationships as ‘friends-with-benefits’ or ‘no-strings-attached’.

20. A relationship with a criminal

Society will never accept your relationship if you are in love with a criminal or a lawbreaker. They will see you also as a criminal or an accomplice. In their eyes, you will be someone who is often involved with money laundering or blackmailing.

Society will disapprove of your relationship because they think a criminal only deserves punishment, not love or respect

So, your relationship with a criminal will be considered a taboo relationship. 

Suppose you still break the societal rules and get into this. Even your blood family might boycott you or impose different restrictions on you.

However, over time, the definition and types of the taboo relationship changed. So, if you want to know more about it, I’ve got you covered here…

What do we consider taboo relationships today?

In the past, even interracial romantic relationships were taboos. However, with changing times, the rigidity changed, but relationships between teacher-student, boss-subordinate, or co-workers are still unacceptable for strange reasons.

There’s a major difference if you compare taboo relationships a few decades back and the present ones.

Initially, these included ones that did not fulfill the cultural requirements of society and were kept secret. Nobody knew such love stories because it would give them the name of a ‘taboo relationship.’

But, with the progress of Western civilization and cultural shifts in society, people became liberal. Their mindset is no longer rigid as in the past. So, today, people accept two people from different cultural backgrounds and their love.

Moreover, the relationships that were taboo in the olden days are not considered ‘taboo’ today.

For example, interracial dating in America was forbidden before. But today, we find a dynamic shift in this trend. Now interracial dating is widely accepted (except only a few cultural zones.)

However, some like a teacher dating a student or the romantic relationship between a boss and a secretary still hit the newspapers.

So, now that we know what is considered taboo relationships, let’s dig further to know how it feels to be in one such relationship.

What is it like being in a taboo relationship?

People involved in a taboo relationship undergo extreme opposition from society and family… to the point that they suppress their expressions of love. They try hard to convince their family and get accepted.

Taboo relationships are challenging to maintain. When so many people frown at your relationship, it’s difficult to be calm and move forward.

Scientists studied taboo relationships and revealed that such couples limit themselves from showing their love to their partner because of society.

They have extreme feelings of love, care, and compassion toward each other. However, society constantly judges them for their action and even their expressions of love.

So, such couples hesitate to hold hands, hug, or kiss their partner when they feel like it. Not being able to express their love frustrates them and creates problems in their relationships. However, they still cope with these problems.

Fortunately, families of some such couples accept them wholeheartedly. But if they are from marginalized families, they undergo too many difficulties for society to accept them.

As more people get involved in taboo relationships, I only hope that love that doesn’t harm others won’t be taboo one day. Instead, people will accept such relationships as normal relationships only.

A word from ThePleasantRelationship

If you have any of the above types of taboo relationships, it’s perfectly normal.

Society may term these relationships as taboo but let me tell you, Love is Love – it knows no bounds, restrictions, or bias.

Nobody can make you as cherished as your partner. So, unless your bond hurts someone else’s life, no need to listen to others.

You are a free person and can love anybody freely. Even if you have some hardships now… in true love, you always find your way to meet your partner. So, destiny will certainly connect you two if you are ready to climb mountains for each other.

And I hope society will change its mind someday!

Are you interested to know more about ‘Signs Of Falling Out Of Love’ then click here?

Are you interested to know more about ‘7 Year Itch In A Relationship’ then click here?