Types of Relationships

We have a habit of hearing the word relationship and automatically associating it with something romantic, but there are many different types of relationships, most of which aren’t romantic. Some types of relationships that you may have include:

  • Friends
  • Family
  • Romantic Partners
  • Parent
  • Carers
  • Guardians
  • Pets
  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Dentists
  • And many more!

Relationships are an essential part of our lives as they can provide excellent sources of pleasure and fun as well as comfort, support, and security – all necessary for our wellbeing.

Having various relationships is also essential because they can all serve different purposes. On top of this, it is necessary to remember that some relationships will come and go, only lasting for a short period, whereas others will remain for a lifetime.

Maintaining respectful relationships is also vital for our wellbeing. This means we need to recognize the critical relationships in our lives and those that may become unhealthy and bad for us.

Relationships can strongly influence our lives, sense of self, and identity. However, because of their importance, relationships require a certain level of work, respect, communication, and commitment.

Specific Types of Relationships:

Family Relationships:

These are typically the relationships between us and the people we are related to, involving parents, carers, guardians, grandparents, siblings, and more. Family relationships do not have to be with people to who we are related, and many people will consider their family to be people they share no DNA with; our family can be people who have been in your life for a long time, and you can count on them.


Our friends are people we enjoy spending time with and usually have common interests we can discuss. Friendships, for most people, involve a combination of affection, loyalty, love, respect, and trust. We can make friends at any age and stage of our lives; many people will have friends they met at school, through hobbies, and even at work.

Romantic Relationships:

This type of relationship is commonly associated with the word ‘relationship’ and involves a deep passion and love for the other. People may feel nervous or excited at the start of a romantic relationship. There is often a level of physical intimacy that is not present in other relationships (but this is not always the case).

Proximity Relationships:

Proximity Relationships are relationships we form with other people physically close to us, such as classmates and colleagues. They are often with people with who we would not usually become friends.

Your relationship with yourself

We would not usually think about this, but we have an essential relationship with ourselves. Having a good relationship with yourself means that you accept yourself fully, don’t try to change yourself for other people, follow your dreams and passions, and are entirely yourself. Being authentic and 100% yourself feels free as you align with your core values. This can allow you to create great things in your life and live happily.

Many people tend to be mean to themselves, but treating ourselves with respect and kindness is essential. Be your own best friend! Think of how you would speak to your best friend and treat yourself that way. This will help you be your own best supporter and cheerleader. Especially if you’re going through a hard time, think of what support and advice you would give to your best friend and give it to yourself. For example, if a friend were struggling, you wouldn’t tell them they are moaning, that they should stop being sad and carry on; you would support them when they are down and listen to them as much as they need. So you can also do this by giving yourself space to feel whatever you need and not trying to rush yourself through your emotions.

This relationship is the most important relationship that we have in our lives. Knowing yourself well can help you to understand your values, beliefs, culture, experiences, relationships, thoughts, and feelings, which can help you to communicate these things more clearly in your relationships with other people. Therefore, having a solid relationship with yourself will positively impact all the different relationships in your life.

Healthy Relationships:

As previously mentioned, it is essential to recognize the healthy relationships in our lives, so we know which ones we need to cultivate and which ones we should walk away from to protect our wellbeing. Characteristics of healthy relationships include trust, respect, honesty, kindness, generosity, boundaries, privacy, consent, conflict management, reconciliation, and the respectful ending of relationships. These apply to all types of relationships, not just romantic ones.

Other elements of healthy relationships include:

  • Being able to talk about your emotions and feelings openly
  • Feeling happy to see and spend time with the people you have relationships with
  • Feeling safe and comfortable around others
  • Not being forced to keep a secret that makes you uncomfortable.

Healthy relationships can have positive effects on our life as a whole, including:

  • Feeling less stressed
  • Having healthier behaviors
  • Having a greater sense of purpose
  • Living a longer life some research suggests that maintaining healthy relationships can have a more significant impact on avoiding early death than taking blood pressure medicine.

Conversely, unhealthy relationships can have negative impacts on a person and their life, including:

  • Lower self-esteem, depression, and other mental health impacts.
  • Damaged relationships with others, as you may not be able to see your friends and family as much, may affect your ability to maintain healthy relationships with them.
  • Changes in appetite and sleep patterns.

Behaviors that are healthy and unhealthy exist on a spectrum, and lines can often be blurred, which is why some people struggle to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy relationships.

When does an unhealthy relationship become abusive?

There is not always a distinction between an unhealthy and abusive relationship. However, a typical way of understanding is that unhealthy relationships involve one or more people exhibiting behaviors that are not healthy or founded in mutual respect. In contrast, abusive relationships involve one or more people treating the other with cruelty or violence, especially regularly or repeatedly. Abuse may look different in various situations; it may not always be violent. Abuse can be verbal, emotional, or physical.

Everyone will likely do something considered unhealthy in a relationship, but doing this occasionally does not mean that a relationship is unhealthy. When something like this happens, discussing it and ensuring everyone is comfortable with the relationship moving forward is essential.

Unhealthy signs in a relationship should not be ignored, as they can sometimes escalate.

Healthy and Unhealthy Relationship Behavior

A critical part of learning how to identify healthy and unhealthy relationships is knowing the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationship behavior.

Here are some common behaviors in healthy relationships:

  • Being able to be yourself. No matter what kind of relationship it is, if it is healthy, you should feel comfortable enough to be yourself and not feel the need to change in any way.
  • Feeling able to be honest in all conversations you have with each other. This ties in with communication which is a crucial part of any relationship. Communication is about being able to talk about the essential functions of your relationship, as well as showing that you have listened to and understood your partner.
  • Following open communication and honesty should be respected. Respect in a relationship should be mutual, and no one should do or say anything that makes the other person uncomfortable. Care in a relationship should help you to feel safe; no one should be in a relationship with someone who makes them feel unsafe. You should feel confident that the other person won’t do something to hurt your feelings or body intentionally.
  • You should be able to trust your partner. This means being able to count on them in several situations. Trusting each other is also about knowing that you have each other’s interests.
  • A healthy relationship should also help you feel supported, which can be shown in many ways, such as by listening to your problems or attending important events.

Feelings and activities associated with healthy relationships are being happy when you get to be around your partner and not changing who you are just to fit in with them.

Behaviors that are found in unhealthy relationships include:

  • Physical abuse is when one person in a relationship hits, pushes, or physically hurts the other in any way. This can also have bad things that belong to them.
  • Being controlling dictates what the other person can do, wear and go, or prevents them from seeing their friends and family. A controlling partner may also make you constantly update them on what you are doing or use threats to make you do what they want.
  • Another form of control may be pressure. A controlling or abusive partner may pressure you into doing things that make you uncomfortable. They may use threats or ultimatums like “if you don’t do this, I’ll leave you” to force you into doing something you are uncomfortable with.
  • Humiliation is another sign of an abusive relationship. For example, a humiliating partner may call you names that make you feel bad about yourself or say things that put you down in private or in front of others.
  • It may signify an unhealthy relationship if you feel like your partner is unpredictable. An unreliable partner may have large emotional outbursts with little to no warning, for example, getting angry when there isn’t an apparent reason. This can make someone feel like they’re walking on eggshells and be scared in their own home.

Some feelings and activities that are associated with unhealthy relationships are feeling like you can’t say “no” to your partner or being scared of your partner in moments that should be romantic.

We are often told to avoid unhealthy relationships and traits and characteristics in our relationships, but it’s not always as simple as that. Knowing when to let go can be a difficult decision to make, this can be for several reasons. For example, you may still care about the other person or be scared of what comes next if you decide to leave.

One way to know that it is time to leave is to think about the effects a relationship has on your body, such as “my body is hurting” or “my body is tired.” When we say things like this, it is easy to detach ourselves from what we are saying, but if you can replace “my body” with “I am” and the sentiment is the same, it may be time to reflect on the relationship.

Once you have acknowledged this, it’s time to be present. When we are in a bad relationship, it can be easy to reminisce about when times were better, making it even harder to see the truth. However, it can be much easier to make the right decision by forcing yourself to be present.

Online Relationships:

Social media has grown in popularity, and more and more young people are using them regularly, leading to an increase in online relationships. Social media can help us connect to people with similar interests, leading to new acquaintances, friendships, and even romantic relationships.

There are different benefits and risks when forming online relationships and interacting with people we do not know. This means knowing what boundaries you want to keep in place is essential.

The relationships we form with people we meet online can be as meaningful and fulfilling as those we have with people we know in real life. Unfortunately, however, some people lie about who they are online, which can be deceitful and harmful.

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