An interpersonal relationship is some relationship or connection between two people.
Types of relationships
- Formalized relationships, such as marriage, civil union
Intimate relationships, such as loving relationships or romantic relationships with or without living together; the other person is often called lover, boyfriend or girlfriend (not to be confused with "just" a male or female friend), or significant other; there is usually sexual behavior, but often in the beginning only limited forms of that. If the partners live together the relationship may be similar to marriage, and the other person may be called husband or wife, and regarded as such in common law. The term sexual relationship may be used, even if it involves more than sexual behavior, if the latter is perceived as the most important distinction from friendship. Mistress is a somewhat old fashioned term for a female lover of a man who is married to another woman, or of an unmarried man. She may even be an official mistress (in French maîtresse en titre); an example is Madame de Pompadour.
- A sexual relationship in the more literal sense: one that mainly involves sexual behavior; to emphasize this, in the case of sexual intercourse the term fuck buddy is sometimes used.
- Platonic love is an affectionate relationship into which the sexual element does not enter, especially in cases where one might easily assume otherwise.
Friendship; see also internet friendship
- Family tie, being relatives, kinship, biological relationship
- Brotherhood and sisterhood
- Establishment of common ground between parties, although fundamental to an interpersonal relationship, does not connote a timeless relationship, and might even disappear over time. Thus common ground must be maintained, in this case, for a relationship to endure.
A friend of a friend of someone may be a friend of the latter person -- there is some transitivity. However, if two people have a sexual relationship with the same person, they may be competitors rather than friends. Accordingly, sexual behavior with the sexual partner of a friend may damage the friendship.
In intimate relationships there is often, but not always, an implicit or explicit agreement that the partners will not have sex with someone else. The extent to which physical intimacy with other people is accepted may vary. For example, a man may accept more physical intimacy between his wife and a female friend of her than if it is a male friend (see also jealousy).
The rise of popular psychology has led to an explosion of concern about one's interpersonal relationships (often simply called: "relationships"). Intimate relationships receive particular attention in this context, but sociology recognises many other interpersonal links of greater or less duration and/or significance.
Relationships are not necessarily healthy. Examples include abusive relationships and co-dependency.
Theories of interpersonal relationships
Social psychology has several approaches to the subject of interpersonal relationships, among them closure and also trust, as trust between parties can be mutual. This may lead to enduring relationships.
Social exchange theory interprets relationships in terms of exchanged benefits. The way people feel about relationships will be influenced by the rewards of the relationship, as well as rewards they may potentially receive in alternate relationships.
Equity theory is based on criticism of social exchange theory. Proponents argue that people care more than just maximizing rewards, they also want fairness and equity in their relationships.
Relational dialectics is based on the idea that a relationship is not a static entity. Instead, a relationship is a continuing process, always changing. There is constant tension as three main issues are negotiated: autonomy vs. connection, novelty vs. predictability, and openness vs. closedness.
Attachment styles are a completely different way of analyzing relationships. Proponents of this view argue that attachment styles developed in childhood continue to be influential throughout adulthood, influencing the roles people take on in relationships.
Last updated: 06-02-2005 03:34:27