Our relationships with those around us are essential to who we are, how we understand the world, and form our ideas and belief systems. Interpersonal relationships can refer to romantic and familial bonds and our relationships with friends, colleagues, and people we meet at social events. Essentially, our interpersonal skills dictate how we relate to everyone we cross paths with.

Interpersonal relationships are dynamic, fluid, evolving systems. They require maintenance and nurturing and often involve many complicated emotions from both sides. People with close interpersonal relationships will most likely benefit from a sense of confidence, security, belonging, reduced stress, and reduced chances of depression and anxiety. They may also have a better chance of succeeding both personally and professionally.

A person with interpersonal difficulties will have difficulty relating to and bonding with other people. They might find that they struggle with particular relationship types (the parent-child relationship, male-female platonic relationship, or professional, collegial, or employer-employee relationship). As our relationships can be an essential tool to help manage emotional and mental health, they are crucial. If you struggle with interpersonal relationship difficulties, you may be more likely to be vulnerable to emotional and psychological challenges.



Friendship is a state of enduring affection, esteem, intimacy, and trust between two people. In all cultures, friendships are important relationships throughout a person’s life span.

Friendship is an unconditional interpersonal relationship where individuals enter into by their own sweet will and choice.

Friendship is a relationship where there are no formalities and individuals enjoy each other’s presence.

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.

  1. It is a dyamic relationship, meaning that it involves a series of interactions between two individuals known to each other.
  •   2. It is recognized by both members of the relationship and is characterized by a bond or tie of reciprocated affection.
  •   3. It is not obligatory; two individuals choose to form a friendship with each other. 

Romantic relationship

An interpersonal relationship characterized by passion, intimacy, trust and respect is called love.

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.

Individuals in a romantic relationship are deeply attached to each other and share a special bond.

Must have in a Romantic relationship:

Two partners must trust each other in this relationship.

A sense of respect and mutual admiration is essential.

Partners must reciprocate each other’s feelings for the charm to stay in the relationship for a longer period of time.

Family Relationship

Individuals related by blood or marriage are said to form a family.

Our family, or relatives are people we are connected to through some form of kinship, whether it is through blood ( parents, brothers and sisters), marriage (such as non-blood aunts and uncles or step-parents) or adoption.

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.

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.


Acquaintances are people you may encounter regularly, but who are not friends or relatives. 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.

Here are some helpful tips for workplace friendships:

  • Set boundaries.
  • Keep office conversations about the work.
  • Find an appropriate balance between personal and professional.

Who might experience interpersonal relationship difficulties?

Anyone might struggle with interpersonal relationship difficulties; indeed, most of us will have felt anxious, shy, or anti-social at some point in our lives. Relationship difficulties are everyday, perfectly normal, and part of daily living.

However, for some, relationships can present a particular challenge. For example, people with specific mental health issues are more likely to have highly inhibitive interpersonal relationship problems, unlike everyday social awkwardness. It is pretty standard for people with personality disorders to struggle with building and maintaining relationships. Personality disorders can influence the way people think, feel and behave and therefore building bonds with others can be more complex than for people without this condition.

It is also widespread for those who have been unsuccessful in relationships in the past to shy away from future relationships through fear of repeating the same pattern of meeting, forming close personal bonds, and then having to suffer the pain of what they perceive as the inevitable relationship breakdown.

Interpersonal relationships can also be challenging for those with anxiety – particularly social anxiety-like depression, autism, people with low self-esteem, and those who have experienced trauma, neglect, or abuse.

What are the signs that I am struggling with interpersonal relationship difficulties?

  • Anger

You may find that you become angry more easily. You may become frustrated as you struggle to find a way to communicate with others. This can be intensely damaging to relationships and you.

  • Withdrawal

You may not feel inclined to socialize with friends, family, colleagues, or loved ones.

  • Lack of confidence and a sense of alienation

You feel you are not good enough to be in a relationship or somehow different from other people.

  • Difficulty communicating

You may struggle to express yourself verbally and non-verbally; you may feel that you are often misunderstood or frustrated that you seem to say the wrong things.

  • Difficulty listening

You may find it difficult to properly listen to another’s needs resulting in relationship conflicts and feelings of distance from others.

  • Lack of negotiation skills

You may lack the ability to negotiate with others to find a mutually agreeable outcome.

  • Isolation

You may feel isolated and experience feelings of loneliness. How we interact with others and build interpersonal relationships is integral to our feeling accepted, attached, and as though we belong. If you struggle with interpersonal relationship difficulties, you may feel a void in your life.

How can counseling or therapy help with interpersonal relationship difficulties?

Interpersonal relationship difficulties are a principal reason people seek help from a therapist or counselor. While many forms of therapy can help address the issues that arise from having interpersonal relationship difficulties, interpersonal therapy is the type of therapy most focused on the subject.

Interpersonal therapy often supports the idea that difficulty interacting with others can cause us to become lonely, depressed, and anxious. In turn, the symptoms of these mental health issues make it more difficult for us to communicate with others. Your therapist will help you identify and clarify your difficulties, help you understand how you currently communicate with people and how this can be improved, and act as a supportive, non-judgmental listener.

While interpersonal therapy is most helpful for those with identifiable, presenting issues within their relationships, this therapy may also look deeper into your past, most likely your childhood, to see if there is any evidence of patterns having been formed then.

Relational therapy is another effective tool to support interpersonal relationship problems. A relational therapist emphasizes the importance of the client-therapist relationship as a model for relationships outside of therapy. Working with a relational therapist, you will better understand how you want and need your relationships to be.