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What is a Vanilla Relationship? Everything You Need to Know

What is a Vanilla Relationship? Everything You Need to Know

Updated on Nov 03, 2023

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

Vanilla Relationship - Definition, Pros & Cons, How to Make It Interesting

You must have heard about vanilla sex but do you know what’s a vanilla relationship? If you’re wondering “Is that even a thing?”… I don’t judge you. In fact, I’m here to tell you all about it in this think-piece.

Whether you’re on team vanilla or just feel curious about it, you’ll get all the answers here. In fact, even if you want to move on from vanilla, stay with me… I have a solution!

So, let’s explore…

Vanilla Relationship Infographic

Vanilla Relationship
Vanilla Relationship

What is a vanilla relationship?

In a vanilla relationship, both partners follow traditional dynamics like monogamy, heterosexuality, loyalty, and commitment. It’s called so because non-vanillas look down on the lack of “spices”.

Before explaining the vanilla relationship, let’s understand the position of vanilla in the flavor industry. At some point, vanilla was a rare, luxurious, exotic, and second most expensive spice in the world.

However, currently, it’s the most common and mild ice cream flavor on the market.

So, similarly, the term vanilla relationship refers to a traditional and committed bond in which neither of the partners seeks anything outside of it. It’s a satisfying, loyal, loving, and monogamous connection.

Many assume vanilla relationships are boring, but they’re quite reliable because of how couples stay committed till the end.

However, since every type of relationship comes with benefits and drawbacks, this must too, right? C’mon, let’s find out more here…

Pros and Cons of Vanilla Relationship

In this generation, casual relationships and nonmonogamy are so much talked about. However, some people label others that don’t follow the trend as “dated”. They’re treated as social outcasts or looked down upon for having an unpopular opinion.

So, vanilla relationships have their own set of fun and setbacks, let’s know it all here…


1. It’s all about real emotions

In a vanilla relationship, you’re sure about your feelings for one another. You know exactly what you desire from your partner. You’re ready to commit to them and not seek fun outside.

2. It builds your character

In this era, a vanilla relationship is tough because even your best friend might call you out for not playing around. Everyone around dates casually and people judge you for not being more available.

If you stay true to your partner and vanilla relationship, you learn to ignore such invitations and create a solid character. Even if you’re used to being non-vanilla, you learn to work on yourself with it.

3. You feel emotionally fulfilled

Though casual dating is trendy, couples can’t bond emotionally in it. A fling or one-night stand is only for fun, they won’t feel concerned about your emotional needs.

In a vanilla relationship, you and your partner can satisfy one another emotionally as you have more time to focus on important matters.

4. You have a purpose in life

When you focus on only one partner, your mind is filled with a future with them. You want to have a secure relationship/marriage and make decisions for both of you.

You want to align your paths for a future together. So, you don’t stray from your life responsibilities.

5. You can have a more fulfilling sex

In casual dating, a person may or may not want to have sex with you. Even if they do, they’ll focus on their desires and sexual satisfaction more than yours. Since vanilla relationships are traditional, your sex life focuses on mutual pleasure.

Sex isn’t about explaining your boundaries and desires to a new or casual partner… because your permanent partner eventually learns about your needs.


1. You can’t find it easily

In pop culture, there’s a bad reputation about vanilla relationships. The new generation might feel being in plain relationships and committing to one another means you’re “backdated”. So, you’ll hardly find enough potential dates with similar interests.

2. Maintaining it is even harder

Let’s say you’re in a vanilla relationship, but that’s not the end of it. People around you guys will always try to set up with other people… even if it’s for a coffee date.

Even if you guys turn them down repeatedly, either of you might get frustrated and say “Okay, it’s just one date!” and your miseries and heartbreaks begin there.

3. You might have serious conflicts

Unlike casual relationships, vanilla ones are serious. In healthy vanilla relationships, you stay committed and loyal.

However, when you start doubting that your partner went off the beat, you get jealous and fight with them. This is because you have expectations and that sometimes leads to disappointments and major conflicts.

4. You take longer to get over separations

Since you hope for a future with your partner in a vanilla relationship, people never think that they might break up someday.

Couples in vanilla relationships assume that they’ll be together forever because most people around them aren’t into it. So, when they actually split, it’s a huge shock.

It’s tough to forget about the future plans and begin back from square one. People have difficulties moving on and resent their ex.

5. You might sometimes miss sexual variety

If you tried other varieties of relationships, you might crave variety and fun while in a vanilla relationship. It hits you hard like a withdrawal symptom. You become more prone to violate your partner’s boundaries. This might even attract trust issues in your relationship.

So, now if you’re wondering what being vanilla means, here’s your answer, buddy!

What does it mean when someone is vanilla?

Being vanilla basically means you prefer monogamy, heterosexuality, and conventional relationship dynamics. But often, people use it as a derogatory term for being boring.

Most of the world believes a vanilla relationship is plain with no fun.

So, when someone calls a monogamous person vanilla, it’s either because they are nonmonogamous and aren’t sure about their expectations from a relationship.

However, people in vanilla relationships don’t call themselves “vanilla”. After all, even Collins dictionary implies a vanilla person means someone ordinary or without anything unique… of course, that sounds insulting.

For vanilla couples (no insult intended!), their relationship is fun and they’re satisfied with it. They have their own recipe for fun without stepping out of monogamy.

In a nutshell, having a vanilla personality means being monogamous and loyal.

If you’re worried about being vanilla or someone telling you off for liking it, let’s know the truth here…

Is it OK to be Vanilla?

Being vanilla allows you to be versatile in your relationship. You’ll never get bored of it, so it’s definitely OK.

Hell, yeah!

Vanilla mainly refers to being conventional… like monogamy, heterosexuality and marriage are conventional too.

So, are they not OKAY? Of course, that’s a pretty absurd question.

You don’t need to follow “trends” when it comes to your preferences. Tell me why vanilla ice cream is still available everywhere? Because it’s versatile and you can add any toppings and voila!

Try what your heart wants… ask others to mind their business.

Wondering what people mean being vanilla in the bedroom? Let’s unveil the facts…

What is vanilla sexually?

Being sexually vanilla means you like conventional sexual practices and positions. 

When a couple has sex that involves no twists or kinkiness and no S&M, they’re sexually vanilla. They stick to basic sexual practice and prefer missionary positions over any other sex positions.

Again, when you say someone has a vanilla sex life, it’s pretty mean and derogatory. Nobody that tries vanilla sex usually says “I’m vanilla” unless someone asks them their preference.

This term is also common in the dating culture, so let’s know what it means there…

What does vanilla mean in dating?

In dating scenes, being vanilla implies you have more conventional dates where men behave gallant and women act shy. But modern couples can experiment with other dating activities but the baseline is monogamy.

In vanilla dating, monogamous couples enjoy traditional movie dates and candlelight dinners. Men behaving chivalrously and women stay reserved.

However, you can still add your own twist like a plan for some fun date nights. You might cook together, watch chick flicks, go for a walk in the park nearby, or enjoy a few drinks in the bar.

It all depends on how you want to experiment while respecting boundaries.

There’s another type of dating that is completely opposite to vanilla dating. Let’s compare it here…

Vanilla Dating vs Sugar Dating

Vanilla and sugar dating aren’t completely different. People might confuse the names because the vanilla flavor is so mild and is mainly all about sweetness. So,  it’s time to get rid of this huge confusion here…

1. Who is it for?

Vanilla dating is great for independent girls that won’t depend on their partner for finances or materials.

Sugar dating is suitable for men and women that want a sugar mommy/daddy to take care of their financial and/or material needs.

2. How is sex different?

In vanilla dating, you can stay in your comfort zones and refuse sex. It’s your body and nobody can force or coerce you into sex.

In sugar dating, you’re dependent on your sugar parent. They won’t give you an allowance for no favors.

So, if their criterion is sex and you agreed to that [you can have agreements for safety!], you don’t have many excuses to refuse them.

3. Is equality important?

In vanilla dating, you don’t depend on your date, so you’re both equal.

Sugar dating, obviously, has power dynamics. A sugar daddy/mommy has the upper hand over the basic needs of a sugar baby. So, a sugar baby can’t demand equality.

4. Is it socially acceptable?

Vanilla dating being the traditional one is socially accepted.

Even though all sugar dating doesn’t have mandatory sexual activities, society doesn’t know what happens in one arrangement.

So, society assumes that sugar babies sell their bodies and condemn them for not working and earning the normal way.

5. Is it monogamous?

Vanilla dating and relationships are both monogamous. You only see one person at a time… even if you’re not completely serious and committed.

Sugar dating can be of various types depending on the needs of the sugar parent and sugar baby.

The sugar parent has more power, so they can have more than one sugar baby. But if the sugar parent doesn’t want the sugar baby to date anyone else, they might not have the freedom.

If you’re wondering how these dating styles mature over time, let’s check it here…

Vanilla Relationships vs Sugar Relationships

Vanilla dating can turn into steady, serious, and committed vanilla relationships with more responsibilities. However, sugar dating doesn’t really have a future. A sugar relationship isn’t much different from sugar dating.

The journey from vanilla dating to vanilla relationships varies. Some vanilla couples take longer than others to realize they’re in love or that it’s time to introduce them to family.

In a vanilla relationship, things become even more serious. Both of you align your life goals and try your best to keep the relationship healthy.

In sugar relationships, there’s zero progress. You probably know one another more because of the long-term arrangement. But there’s no serious relationship ahead on this path.

Want to add more flavor to your vanilla relationship? Let’s know the suitable ones here…

How to make vanilla relationships more interesting?

A vanilla relationship can become more happening with small-little lifestyle changes like be more imaginative or try something new in your sexual life.

Just as you can add any flavor to a vanilla dessert, the same goes for your relationship. Keep an open mind, and communicate how far you both want to experiment.

In the bedroom, don’t try excessively kinky sex or you’ll feel overwhelmed. Try roleplaying, new yet comfortable sex positions like doggy style.

Well, since you basically have plain and regular sex, if you add blindfolds, try a new position, or play with whipped cream or ice creams in the bedroom… it’s not vanilla anymore. 😉

Do you want it to be more than just “interesting”?  Let’s check this out…

How to go from Vanilla to Kinky?

The jump from vanilla to kinky isn’t easy. Nothing will change overnight, so remember it’ll need time, dedication, and lots of trust and reassurance.

Expect some resistance on this path but don’t lose your temper. Keep in mind your partner is much more precious and follow this…

1. Start off with a gentle conversation

Your vanilla relationship is fabulous enough so if you demand kinkiness rudely, you’ll hurt your partner. Instead, start off with a romantic conversation about what you love about your relationship.

Then, share that you’re interested in a few new things and want to try them to quench your curiosity. Assure them that you won’t force them if they dislike it.

Of course, start slow with softcore kinky sex like bondage or light spanking.

2. Try writing down your desires and boundaries

Remember that kinky sex isn’t everything, so if your partner refuses, give them time and communicate about it later. Make sure it’s after you convey you love them and not their body.

If they agree, write down what each of you wanna explore and what you think is a big NO. Once again, don’t rush and try to recreate 50 shades of gray.

3. Identify common grounds and discuss more

You’ll be disappointed to find your partner rejecting many of your ideas. Initially, you might only find one thing in common… but one is a good start. Even trying one thing will need immense trust from your partner.

When you’re ready, make a contract where you mention your roles, sexual activities, safewords, and limits. You won’t get the contract notarized, but it’s part of the fun.

4. Check-in even without issues

After the first time, you try out, communicate about your experience. Learn what your partner liked, disliked, or if they felt scared. Look up aftercare methods for BDSM. You might learn a few tricks to help them get comfortable with things.

5. Always prioritize safety

Sometimes people get so absorbed in kinky sex, that they can’t control themselves when their partner uses safeword. They won’t trust you to try kinky sex ever again if you break your word.

Practice the safewords even during vanilla sex to avoid such mishaps. Don’t indulge in anything without consent.

People in the kink community that like sex toys, BDSM, kink, or fetish always recommend researching with patience.

If you have more questions, let’s get to the bottom of it here…


Vanilla relationships are one of the most common relationships since forever. However, people hardly think about what’s already common… unless it becomes something rare which is the issue in this generation. 

Whether someone called you off for being vanilla or you’re afraid of your partner not being vanilla, let’s clear the mess in your mind…

1. What is the opposite of a vanilla relationship?

Any relationship that’s not traditional – monogamous, heterosexual, and vanilla sex – can be the opposite of vanilla relationships.

Sexually, if they indulge with the same partner, they may have kinky sex.

However, if they indulge in sex with different partners, it’s an open relationship.
Further, if they also indulge emotionally and romantically with others, it’s polyamory.

2. Does wanting a vanilla relationship make me boring?

You want to love and commit to one person at a time… whether it’s because experimentation didn’t work for you or you just dislike the idea of being open… stick to your decision.

Your choice doesn’t make you boring. It rather shows you’re aware of what you like and desire. Even if your crush calls you boring or rejects you for liking vanilla, that shows you deserve better.

And in this day and age, some still like vanilla, so hang on.

3. How should I get my vanilla partner to experiment?

If your partner is vanilla but you want to try out something different, share your ideas. Communicate about your interests and don’t be negative or assume they won’t understand you.  Otherwise, your tone will sound quite bitter and you won’t get any results from it.

Believe that they can be open too, but don’t expect too much.

4. I want a regular vanilla relationship but my partner wants to experiment. What should I do?

If you like vanilla and your partner wants to spice it up, understand that it’s no crime. Communicate about your discomforts, limits, and anxieties behind why you only want vanilla.

You never know, you might have a simple solution around. Trust yourself and your partner, and express yourself. However, if your partner forces you into anything over-the-top, don’t hesitate and refuse.

5. Does wanting vanilla sex make me undesirable?

If someone said that your taste in sex makes you undesirable, walk away from that show-off.

If anything is undesirable, then it’s their judgemental attitude. They gotta grow up from this habit and respect others’ choices.

If they can’t, hang out with better people. Your taste in sex is completely yours!

A word from ThePleasantRelationship

Remember there’s nothing, absolutely NOTHING wrong in being Vanilla.

However, if you or your partner wants to bring subtle changes in the relationship, don’t brush it off. 

Healthy communication can help you understand your needs better. Don’t be mean to them while dealing with such situations.

Further, if your partner wants to move on from vanilla, but you feel afraid about something, seek a sex therapist. Deal with problems maturely and don’t feel ashamed to fix deep-seated issues.