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Different Types of Relationships
An interpersonal relationship refers to the
association, connection, interaction and bond
between two or more people. There are many
different types of relationships. This section
focuses on four types of relationships: Family
relationships, Friendships, Acquaintanceships
and Romantic relationships.
Family Relationships

Our family, or relatives are people we are connected
to through some form of kinship, whether it is through
blood (such as with parents, brothers and sisters),
marriage (such as non-blood aunts and uncles or
step-parents) romantic relationships (such as a
parent’s girlfriend or boyfriend) or adoption.
Family includes siblings and parents who you may
see every day growing up, and other relatives such as cousins, aunts,
uncles and grandparents who you may not see quote so frequently.
Families come in many different forms, for example single-parent
families, step families, homes with gay and lesbian parents etc.
Ideally, people should have strong relationships with their families,
although this does not always happen. They should feel love and closeness for their relatives, and be able to confide in them and discuss
personal things. A key role of parents and older relatives is to offer
guidance, support and, where needed, boundaries and discipline. As
families are so close and spend so much time together, arguments and
disagreements can arise, but in most families, these are short-lived and
even in moments of anger or hurt, families still love and care about each
Family relationships are ideally life-long, although as children become
teenagers and then adults, it is usual for them to have more
independence and for the parental relationship to become less one of
guidance and more one of mutual support.
Sometimes as children become teenagers and adults, there can be an
increase in arguments and conflicts with parents as the growing child
tries to assert their independence and find their adult identity. This is
perfectly normal and often calms down once the teenage years have
It is important to have strong communication with family members as, if a
healthy relationship is nurtured, a family can be a lifelong source of
The bond with a family can play a very important role in personal
wellbeing and the ability to form other kinds of relationships outside of
the family unit such as friendships and romantic relationships.
In some families, there is little physical contact whereas in others, it is
common for family members to express affection by means such as hugging, kissing on the cheek or forehead, patting the head or tousling
the hair, patting on the back etc. It is common for babies and younger
children to be carried or held.


Friends are people who we are not related to but choose to interact with.
Friends are people we trust, respect, care about and feel that we can
confide in and want to spend time with. A good friendship should be built
on honesty, support and loyalty. A friendship is a reciprocal relationship;
for it to exist, both people must see each other as a friend.
There are varying degrees of friendship.
You may find that you feel closer to some
friends than others. This is perfectly
normal. Some friends, especially if they
have only been known for a short time or
are not seen very often, may not be
appropriate to confide in about personal issues or concerns. You may
find that you feel more comfortable and able to confide in friends whom
you have known for longer or spend more time with.
Friends who are very close and know each other well are sometimes
referred to as “best friends”. Some people have many friends, while others may only have one or two.
There is no right or wrong number of friends to have and everyone is
Good friendships are mutually respectful and supportive and share
common interests and ideas.
While some friendships can be close and some friends choose to greet
each other by hugging or kissing on the cheek, other friendships may
have no physical contact, or may simply shake hands. Physically
intimate or romantic contact is not appropriate in a friendship.


Acquaintances are people you may encounter regularly, but who are not
friends or relatives. For example, they may be a neighbour who lives in
your road that you say “hello” to if you see them in passing, or a work
colleague or someone you have seen a few times at a social event but
do not yet know well.
It is important to be polite and respectful to acquaintances as having
harmonious relationships with people around you, such as work
colleagues, people from college, neighbours etc is an important way of
avoiding stress or conflict.
In some cases, relationships that start as acquaintanceships can, over
time, evolve into friendships as you get to know the person better and
see them more frequently. The level of contact with an acquaintance is minimal. There is unlikely to
be any physical contact (although in a work setting, or when being
introduced to someone, you might occasionally be required to shake
hands), but the main form of contact is likely to be smiling and saying

Romantic Relationships

A romantic relationship is one in which you feel very strongly attracted to
the other person, both to their personality and, often, also physically.
This is reciprocated by the other person in the relationship.
A romantic relationship is that which exists between a boyfriend and
girlfriend (in a heterosexual relationship) or a boyfriend and boyfriend or
girlfriend and girlfriend (in a homosexual relationship) or spouses (in a
marriage) or life partners (in a civil partnership or long-term unmarried
People in a romantic relationship will see each other very often and
when apart my frequently stay in contact, for example by phone. Some
people in romantic relationships live together.
A romantic relationship is the closest form of relationship and the two
people involved will often describe themselves as being attracted to
each other and/or “in love”. They feel an incredibly strong connection
and bond to each other that they do not feel with anyone else, even
close friends, and the bond is also exclusive and monogamous. Successful Romantic relationships are built on love,
trust, respect, support, acceptance, shared interests
and a desire for the two people involved to share
their lives together. Some people in relationships may
choose to have children.
As this is such a close relationship, various kinds of
physical contact are accepted which would not be
appropriate in any other kind of relationship. These include prolonged
cuddling and holding, kissing on the lips and sexual intercourse,
however it should still mutually agreed.
Sometimes arguments and disagreements occur in romantic
relationships. In strong relationships, these arguments can be overcome
through effective communication, understanding and compromise, but in
other cases, especially if there are frequent arguments, the two people
involved my decide to terminate the relationship.
Relationships can be of varying duration. In some relationships, it quickly
becomes apparent that the two people involved are not compatible and
do not want to spend their lives together, and so the relationship may
end after only a few months. In other cases, the two people may be
together for many years or may stay together for the rest of their lives.

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