What is an interpersonal relationship?

What is an interpersonal relationship? Interpersonal relationships and their success largely depend on understanding their essence. Different types of communication at the same time require a different approach to behavior, emotional reactions, the degree of closeness, and openness. What kind of connections can there be? Why create them, what goals can be guided by? A detailed overview of social contacts is in the sections of this article.

What is an interpersonal relationship?

Interpersonal relationships are social bonds between two or more individuals (including communication within a group) that are formed and expressed in the form of opinions, feelings, and influences. These contacts are based on three essential components:

  • cognitive – all the conclusions and conclusions that one person makes about another;
  • emotive – experiences, emotional states and affects in a couple or group;
  • behavioral – external transmission of thoughts and feelings through facial expressions, postures, gestures, speech, active actions. It is this part that regulates relations between people to the greatest extent.

All interpersonal relationships can be viewed from a different scale. For example:

  • macro-level – communication as the most important part of personal development, all contacts of a person during his life;
  • mesolevel – the current connections of the individual with other people, the reasons, goals of such communication, and the choice of the environment;
  • microlevel – specific situations with other personalities, interactions with them (insult-offense, question-answer, etc.).

What is an interpersonal relationship?

Classification of interpersonal relationships (scales).


Official relationships are formed on the basis of legal or official relationships. They are regulated by rules, charters, laws, orders, and other official instructions, documents, formal etiquette. At the conclusion of such contacts, the emotive component plays the least role. This means that people enter into a relationship with each other. Regardless of personal sympathy or, conversely, hostility.

unofficial relationships are based precisely on sincere likes or dislikes. They do not include any formal doctrines or rules.


Business connections are built exclusively in joint work, and we are talking not only about the profession but about any common work. Even volunteers who are bound by the same idea can only communicate in a business-like manner if they do not get close or talk about something outside of their business.

Personal a relationship is any relationship outside the work plane. For example, colleagues who do not go beyond formality and professional regulations maintain business relationships. However, the development of respect, contempt, interest, envy, skepticism, and other emotions or opinions towards each other makes their communication personal.


Rational they call contacts that are built on profit, miscalculation, reasonable expectations. They become successful only if they are mutual. Unlike them, emotional connections include experiences, sensory perception of each other.

These two species can coexist, provided that they have common views. For example, if the spouses (emotional part) decide to open a family business (rationality). However, conflicts are inevitable if people try to create opposite kinds of relationships. A romantic will be dissatisfied with a mercantile pragmatist, and vice versa.


subordinate interaction is consistency in which one person plays the role of the head, manager, leader, and the second – the follower, subordinate. This is an inequality in the rights, duties, prestige of the participants.

Parity relationships imply equivalence of statuses. The complete absence of subordination, ardent dominance, and the independence of partners are typical signs of this union.


imperative includes the dominant, authoritarian, overwhelming attitude of one person to another. There is a dictator and there is a follower. The main goal of the first is control over the second, and this desire is not hidden. Examples are the military, boss-subordinate relationships, and abusive marriages.

Unlike imperative ties, manipulative they act covertly, although they also aim to impose ideas, desires, and encourage them to take specific actions. Appropriate in business, advertising, but not in personal relationships.

Dialogic interaction requires equality of all its participants. Forms personal attachments, turning into long close contacts. Includes independence and mutual respect.

What is an interpersonal relationship?

Types of interpersonal relationships.

1. Acquaintance.

To get to know each other, you will need at least one meeting or correspondence, as well as knowledge (partially or completely) of formal data about each other, such as:

  • Full name, age;
  • working position;
  • place of residence (country, city, district);
  • contact information (telephone, mail, fax, etc.);
  • marital status, sexual orientation.

At this stage, people have not yet developed a clear, ingrained opinion about each other. An important role is played by the first impression and the social conditions under which the acquaintance took place.

2. Friendship.

The period of determination of justified likes and dislikes. The gradual development of the emotive component and its subsequent consolidation begins. Although at this stage the mutual opinion of people may change. Much depends on the situations, specific actions of all participants.

Friends expand and deepen knowledge about each other, trying to find common topics for conversation, the same hobbies as a reason to spend time together.

3. Friendship.

The first strong link that is difficult to destroy. Characterized by a high level of trust, understanding, affection, support, care. Idealization and subjectivism develop, so the misconduct of a friend in relation to others seems to be much less than the same mistakes of strangers.

Friends are very important to each other, but the gap between them usually does not become a tragedy, although it is accompanied by longing, a temporary feeling of loneliness. Therefore, making friends in large numbers, finding new people for this role is normal.

4. Love.

The highest degree of affection and mutual trust. Unlike friendship, the loss of a loved one becomes a real grief, leaves a strong trauma, and takes much longer to recover. By the way, we are talking not only about the love of spouses/couples, but also about feelings between:

  • parents-children;
  • siblings;
  • best friends.

Very rarely, love for pets or the cause of life is also included in this category. However, the percentage of such a strong attachment in these bundles is much smaller and is found only among very impressionable or notorious individuals.

5. Dislike.

Negative relationships between people are often unfounded. This is a slight skepticism towards the opponent along with antipathy. Often arises because of envy, misunderstanding, bias. Usually, it does not go beyond the emotive-cognitive sphere, therefore, such hostility may not be expressed at all in behavior. Most often, it ends with a complete interruption of contact or ignoring each other.

With the repetition of reasons/situations that have previously caused hostility, the latter can go into a deeper form.

6. Enmity.

The source of the most negative feelings – hatred, anger, revenge, which give rise to mental extremism, unhealthy competition. If at the same time the warring people do not have a high level of self-control, this type of relationship becomes dangerous. Acute hostility can cause administrative or criminal offenses.

Hostility is so rooted that even when trying to restore peace, or at least neutrality, the desire ends in failure, is perceived skeptically, with a catch.

Functions of communication between individuals.

1. Emotive.

Sharing emotions is one of the most important tasks of interpersonal communication. Empathy, closeness are measured by this category. The emotive component influences the duration and strength of connections better than others. If, for example, someone changes their views, interests, main activities, habits, then it is emotions that make you still feel attached to this person, despite changes in him.

What is an interpersonal relationship?

2. Informative.

Information exchange is a good way to get rid of boredom, learn something new, share your findings and discoveries. And since a person is a social being, it is very important for him to do all this for his own development, improving the quality of life in general. Communication between fans after the match, neighbors at a chance meeting, in fact, any conversation is an example of informativeness.

3. Contact.

Dating may occur simply out of a desire to keep in touch with the environment. Usually under this goal lies an unconscious benefit. It is because of her that people collect business cards of different companies or acquaintances – “suddenly come in handy.” Even under the condition that a person never calls the numbers on these cards, he will still feel a conditional security. Suddenly a surprise happens – and the necessary contact is already there.

4. Incentive.

At the heart of this function is the desire to stimulate the partner to perform specific actions. For example, if a woman needs a dress, she will find an atelier for herself and will expect the employees of the workshop to obey their desires (in matters of tailoring). The lever of this incentive will be payment for ready-made clothes.

In addition, communicating for a relatively long time, people deliberately or unconsciously influence each other, change their views, principles, priorities. Such influence is another kind of incentive function.

5. Coordination.

Such a task is posed more often between people in groups when it is necessary to perform a complex or large-scale task. If there is no organization, agreement between the participants in the case, then there will be no good results either.

Any business requires a hierarchy of positions. One submits ideas, the other models ways to implement them, the third puts everything into practice, the fourth analyzes the results, and so on. There are subordinates, and there is management, and without such subordination, the success of the entire task will be in big question.

6. Establish relationships.

The same person performs several social roles. A man can simultaneously be a father, a breadwinner in a family, a leader in a friendly team. His wife is not only a spouse, but also someone’s daughter, mother, administrator in the store, and a few minutes later – already a buyer in it.

Social roles appear only when the individual becomes part of society. An employee can be a leader, subordinate, organizer, executor, customer for someone else. However, first he will have to join the group. Understanding one’s belonging to society makes a person feel complete, meaningful, not alone.

7. Understanding.

It is this function that unites like-minded people, helping to create teams, communities, brotherhoods, even hobby groups. And, of course, friendships or intimate relationships. The key to their success is rather a coordinating function, while the informative one finds people to work on something. However, understanding is important so that people have an incentive to stick together and strive towards the same goal.

Interpersonal relationships are very complex relationships, the behavior in which largely depends on their type, main functions. Their construction is not an easy, long task, which requires an understanding of social roles, expectations from communication, desires, and capabilities of all its participants. However, awareness of the whole essence makes such connections more productive, long-term, and emotionally positive.

What is an interpersonal relationship?

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