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Peeps need peeps. Human bonds are often the sweetest slice of life. Here’s a rundown on interpersonal relationships and why they’re so darn special.

Interpersonal relationships are the strong connections we feel with those closest to us. This could be:

  • friends
  • colleagues
  • family members
  • romantic partners

They’re built on mutual respect, trust, and loyalty and they can provide us with support, care, and even love. 🥰

Interpersonal relationships teach us who we are. From a very young age, the people around us form key aspects of our personalities and value systems. They can help give us a sense of purpose and direction.

They’re also a key component to overall physical and mental well-being. There’s a strong link between relationships and emotional health. That’s why it’s vital to surround yourself with people who give you joy, support, and comfort.

There are different types of interpersonal relationships. They’re all equally important but each is unique. They depend on individual connection and the expectations of the relationship.

These are the most common types of interpersonal relationships.

Family

Family can include our parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, caregivers, and guardians. These are the first relationships we ever form. We often have close ties to family members. These bonds can last a lifetime.

Sometimes we hold different values or ideals than family members do. And that’s A-OK! But it’s super important to maintain open and respectful communication.

In some cases personal differences can’t be overcome and the interpersonal relationships with family members might become strained or non-existent.

Friendship

While you don’t get to choose your family, you do get to choose your friends. Some friendships are even more important than family connections.

There’s no cookie-cutter formula to explain friendships because they’re complex. You’ll experience different types of friendships throughout your life.

Friends may highlight different aspects of your personality, so don’t worry if your friends don’t always share the same level of connection. Some of these relationships may only last a little while, but other bonds will stand the test of time. If it feels right it feels right.

If you find yourself in a toxic situation it’s okay to separate yourself from the relationship. Ultimately, this will be what’s best for both of you.

Romantic

Sometimes mutual attraction evolves from “I like you” to “I like you and I love you.” This is a romantic interpersonal relationship. A romantic relationship can sometimes start as a friendship, but they are different.

The way you feel love for friends and romantic partners may vary. You can totally love your friends. But you aren’t necessarily in love with them.

Another difference is how you act out your feelings. Romantic love is often expressed through physical and sexual touch.

Work

You may see your coworkers more than you see your own family, so it’s normal to form strong bonds with your work peeps. Your shared experiences can create relationships that impact the workplace dynamic.

We don’t always agree with colleagues, even if they’re a friend, but it’s important to maintain respectful communication to ensure both work and friendship are valued.

Here are some helpful tips for workplace friendships:

  • Set boundaries.
  • Keep office convos about the work.
  • Find an appropriate balance between personal and professional.
  • Save the lengthy convos and hot goss about last night’s Tinder disaster for happy hour.

Relationships develop over time and each interpersonal relationship dynamic has its own vibe. They often vary in length and intensity, but each relationship is experienced in a set of stages.

Stages of interpersonal relationships

In a 1980 study psychologist George Levinger identified the five stages of interpersonal relationships:

  1. Acquaintance
  2. Build-up
  3. Continuation
  4. Deterioration
  5. Ending

Successful interpersonal relationships get to the third stage (continuation). They last until death do us part. Others relationships? Not so much. Some bonds are available for a limited time only.

In these cases the relationship will go through all five of Levinger’s stages. That means both parties will eventually part ways. This is super common in romantic entanglements. It’s also typical when you transition to a new workplace or graduate from school.

It’s also normal for a relationship to not progress beyond the acquaintance stage. These are known as secondary interpersonal relationships.

Some common examples are:

  • neighbors
  • your fave barista
  • friends of friends
  • others you interact with on a semi-regular basis

You may exchange “hellos” and “how you doin’s” with these people. But the convo usually doesn’t evolve beyond simple pleasantries.

There’s no denying it: Relationships require effort and no relationship is perfect. Conflict is bound to happen. Both sides have to work to maintain a positive connection. The most important thing you can do is maintain clear and open communication.

Solid communication doesn’t just create good moments. It also helps you get through the not-so-good ones. Build your relationships on the basis of talking and listening. This will help you work through issues and form stronger bonds.

Keep in mind: The most important relationship you’ll ever have is with yourself. Take care of yourself and your feelings. It’s the only way to ensure healthy relationship with others.

Important relationship habits

  • Be honest and trustworthy. Without trust, there is no relationship.
  • Put in the effort.
  • Listen to each other.
  • Be respectful, always.
  • Be slow to judge. (See: Listen to each other.)
  • Manage expectations and emotions.
  • Establish and maintain boundaries.
  • Be open to feedback and constructive criticism.

Interpersonal relationships are essential to our overall health and happiness. Just remember to manage your expectations. You aren’t going to have a soul mate-level connection with everyone you meet. And that’s okay! It takes a village. Each interpersonal relationship has something to offer.