Types of Interpersonal Relationships


Social relationships are essential for a happy life. They’re also important for our health. Scientists say they improve mental health, immune function, and even cardiovascular health. These relationships will take make different forms, being made with everyone from friends and family to colleagues and even customers.


Each of these relationships has its own set of needs and functions. In this article, we’ll guide you through them. Read on to find out the role of each type of interpersonal relationship and the skills required to create it.


Different Interpersonal Relationships You’ll Have in Your Life


The relationships you have during your lifetime can be split into the following categories.




Bonds with family members are the first relationships we form in life. They’re commonly formed by blood or marriage, but also extend to caregivers and guardians. These relationships will set the groundwork for other types of human relationship we build as we grow.


Boundaries and expectations will vary between different families and cultures. For example, in many Asian countries, children continue to live with their parents and family unit well into their 20’s and beyond. However, in the West, children are encouraged to leave the nest and gain independence earlier in life. They’ll also vary within the hierarchy of a family.


Parents are expected to nurture children while providing physical protection, financial support, education and emotional support. Children are expected to respect their elders and repay their parents’ support as they grow older.


Family relationships can be more complicated than other interpersonal relationships. This is because you can’t choose them. You’re obligated to maintain them as a result of cultural norms and pressure from others around you.


This can make it difficult when conflicts occur, when familial relationships are toxic, or when family members are abusive. While distancing or even removing yourself from these relationships may be the best thing to do in some cases, guilt, pressure, love and fear of abandonment can stop you from doing so.


Skills Required

The variety of personalities, needs and desires within one family can vary wildly. This means that in order to maintain strong and balanced relationships within the family unit, the ability to juggle them and adjust to each one is essential. This may require the use of different communication styles and techniques. Overall the ability and willingness to put the needs of others before your own is one of the most important factors for strong familial bonds.




Friendships are arguably the most important interpersonal relationships you’ll have in your life. These are people you choose to make connections with, usually without any obligations. It may be because you enjoy each other’s company, or because you share personal interests, goals, or even problems. All of these can be common ground on which to build a friendship.


Good friendships have a foundation of trust, honesty and support. For many people, what they value most in a close friend is knowing that they’re always there for them when they’re in need.


This means that long-lasting, quality friendships can’t be one-sided. They have to involve give and take from each side. Everyone knows someone who only contacts them when they need something, and no one would consider that person their closest, most reliable or most valued friend.


It’s said that friends come into your life for a reason, season or lifetime. This means that unfortunately, not all friendships last forever. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing, though. Throughout your life, you’ll circulate through different groups of friends, and along the way, will probably have to deal with the pain of a friendship coming to an end.


This can be difficult, especially, when no particular reason is given. Sometimes, friendships that were once great turn sour and you find yourself having to walk away from them. Although it’s a cliche, it really is true that some friends just drift apart over time.


When that happens, try to remember that some friends will be great for certain periods of your life, but not for others. Also, that some come along to teach you a lesson. Even when these friendships end, you can always draw some positive experiences from them.


Skills Required

Empathy plays a large role in good friendships. If you have the ability to identify how a friend is feeling by putting yourself in their shoes, you can relate to them and be a better friend.


However, simply having empathy isn’t enough. You should also be able to express it effectively, letting your friends know that you understand them and are there for them if they need you.


It’s also important to be non-judgemental. Great friends can be open and honest with each other without fear of judgment. If a friend feels that you’re judging them for their choices, opinions or actions, they’re likely to begin to distance themselves from you or even shut themselves off altogether.


Platonic Relationships


In some friendships, the lines between friendly relationships and romantic ones can be blurred. This isn’t the case in platonic ones. In these types of interpersonal relationships, two individuals have no feelings of romantic love or sexual desire for one another. This term is usually used to describe a friendship between a man and a woman, but can apply to any combination of genders.


Skills Required

Platonic relationships require the same skills that other friendships do. However, mutual respect for boundaries is particularly important here. In order for these relationships to thrive, both parties need to be completely comfortable with one another, safe in the knowledge that there are no romantic expectations or pressure to take it to the ‘next level’.


Romantic Partners


Your relationships with romantic partners are likely to be the most intimate ones you have throughout your life. When they’re at their healthiest, they’re built on a framework of trust, passion, respect, love, support and physical closeness.


However, it’s not always that simple. Couples are free to define this framework in any way they choose. Whether it’s long-term, long-distance, monogamous, polyamorous or otherwise, there are lots of different ways to do it. Signs of a strong romantic relationship include a shared sense of humor, a willingness to try new things together, and the ability to spend a healthy amount of time apart.


Skills Required

In order for romantic relationships to last and thrive, negotiation skills are key. Spouses must work together to find compromising solutions for all sorts of issues throughout their relationship. If they’re unable to do that, resentment can start to build as one person or even both can feel like they aren’t getting a fair deal.


Conflict resolution skills are equally important. You can’t avoid conflict completely. In fact, if you are, it’s a sign that something’s wrong and issues are going unaddressed. What’s important is how you deal with conflicts when they arise.


If you’re willing to listen intently, treat each other with respect and make an effort to improve your relationship, you’ll have a better chance of standing the test of time.


Working Relationships


During your career, you’ll form professional relationships with bosses, coworkers, subordinates, customers, suppliers, competitors, and many others. These will be more formal than the other relationships on this list. Some of them will be people you work with closely, while others may be acquaintances you met at networking events or through LinkedIn.


No matter how they’re formed, the most important working relationships can generally be split into the following four categories:

1. Targeted – An intentional relationship with someone who can benefit you.

2. Tentative – A vague connection, which doesn’t yet have a buildup of trust and experience.

3. Transactional – Relationships through which favours or services are provided.

4. Trusted – Close, long-lasting working relationships.


Skills Required

To craft and maintain good professional relationships, you’ll need to brush up on your ‘people skills’. This means being able to communicate and collaborate with people in an effective way.


You’ll also need to be mindful of professional boundaries, toeing the line of what’s acceptable and appropriate in a working environment. If you’re too relaxed or casual, your relationships at work will suffer. This includes respect for personal space. Give people the freedom they need to do their jobs correctly.


In professional relationships, you’ll have to constantly analyze a mixture of written, verbal and non-verbal communication. This is because many of the people you connect with on a professional level will be relatively unknown to you on a personal level.


Be the Best Possible Version of Yourself


In order to build and maintain every type of interpersonal relationship, you’ll have to navigate the nuances and needs of each type with care. I can teach you how to do that. As well as running several businesses, I also have a successful family and social life. Along the way, I’ve learned how to juggle all of these relationships and responsibilities effectively.


That knowledge has been used to craft by coaching programs, so you can use it for yourself and reap the benefits. To learn more about how I can help you, email me at ask@CoachWalid.com

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