Positive Relationship

The Psychology Behind Interpersonal Relationships


Humans are social animals. The relationships humans share with others are essential for our social, emotional, and physical health. Knowing how to sustain interpersonal relationships will help us in creating a support system, providing strength and courage in turn to face obstacles in life. An interpersonal relationship is a social link or affinity between two or more individuals. Interpersonal relationships might include your close-knit ties with your partner, loved ones, close friends, acquaintances, coworkers, and many more people who make up your social network.

This article explains how to preserve positive interpersonal connections with loved ones, friends, and coworkers, in your life. It also discusses why these interactions are so crucial and what you can do when they occur.

Read More: Psychology Behind Relationships

Stages of Relationships

Relationships do not form overnight. George Levinger, a psychologist, established five phases of interpersonal interactions in 1980 research. He termed this as stage theory, which includes:

  • Relationship progression
  • Acquaintance building
  • Degradation
  • termination

An effective interpersonal connection will only go through the first three stages. A relationship that ends in a breakup with a friend or love partner will progress through all five stages. Not all relationships will cross the first level of acquaintance.

Development of Interpersonal Relationships

Interpersonal relationships are strong associations between people who have similar interests and attitudes. No one on this planet can ever be alone, and people must have trustworthy companions around.

Relationship Management Theory

Each connection requires time to develop. Everybody requires time to get truly close and attached to someone and trust him or her. Miracles do not occur in a single day. To grow and progress in a relationship, one must be patient enough to comprehend the other person. Several theories have been developed for the formation of interpersonal relationships.

Read More: 7 Myths about Healthy Relationships

Theories on Interpersonal Relationships

An interpersonal connection is a strong bond between people who have similar likes, objectives, and interests in life. Individuals must maintain strong relationships with one another not just for faster outcomes but also for a nice workplace environment. Let’s look at the theories of interpersonal connection formation in detail:

Social Exchange Theory

George Casper Homans proposed the Social Exchange Theory in 1958. According to Social Exchange Theory, “give and take” is the foundation of nearly all relationships, however, the amounts may vary depending on the strength of the interaction. In a relationship, everyone has expectations of his or her spouse. A relationship without any expectations is useless.

According to Social Exchange theory, sentiments and emotions must be exchanged for a successful and long-lasting relationship. Relationships cannot be one-sided. An individual only invests his time and energy in relationships if he benefits from them. There are partnerships in which a person receives less than he provides. This leads to circumstances in which individuals begin to compare their relationships to those of others.

Comparisons may be detrimental because they prevent people from giving their utmost in relationships. Don’t assume that you’d have a better connection with someone else. Understand your relationship and do whatever you can do for him/her. Don’t always expect the other person to do something first. Take the initiative and value your relationships from heart.

Uncertainty Reduction Theory

Both Charles R. Berger and Richard J. Calabrese used the Uncertainty reduction theory to describe the interaction between people who don’t know each other well or are strangers. According to Uncertainty reduction theory, when two strangers meet for the first time, they go through a series of steps to lower their degree of uncertainty and get closer to each other. Strangers must communicate well to better understand one another and determine their compatibility level. Individuals go through the following steps to lessen the amount of ambiguity in their relationships.

Read More: 8 Effective Ways to Initiate a Conversation with Strangers

Entry Stage
  • The entering stage is defined as two people getting to know each other better.
  • Each person shares his or her likes and dislikes to deepen the link and elevate the relationship to the next level.
  • Each attempts to learn about the other’s history, family members, educational qualifications, interests, hobbies, and so on.
Personal Stage
  • Individuals endeavour to learn more about the other person’s ethics, values, behaviour, and overall nature.
  • Individuals who are no longer strangers discover more about each other’s personality features during the intimate stage.
  • Individuals in the second stage, often known as the personal stage, aim to learn more about their partner’s attitude and values.
The Exit Stage
  • Not every relationship blossoms into marriage.
  • The Personal Stage determines the outcome of the relationship.
  • Individuals in the departure stage leave their relationships in pursuit of a more suited companion.
  • Individuals who are unable to comprehend and adjust to each other opt to leave their relationship for a better future.
  • Individuals who like each other’s company opt to make long-term commitments, such as marrying or staying together indefinitely.

Read More: Trait Theory in Relationships

Relationship Maintenance

Maintaining friendships and other connections requires effort. The first and most critical aspect is communication. This necessitates conversations that are more open and regarding one’s feelings. Texting and communicating online can be quite rewarding at times, but they seldom provide the same results. A quarrel will inevitably emerge throughout the partnership. The way you handle the issue will decide whether it enhances the connection or not. Rather than avoiding the subject of conflict, it is necessary to discuss it and listen to their point of view. If anything bothers you at work or school, speak up. If you’re experiencing a problem with a friend, family member, or spouse, tell them. Hopefully, they will respond with respect and honesty. Other than honesty and open communication, it is necessary to:

  • Establish limits
  • Be an active listener
  • Keep an optimistic attitude
  • Always show the other person respect
  • Be open to constructive criticism and comments

Read More: Psychology Behind Commitment in Relationships

Keep in Mind that Maintaining good interpersonal interactions is crucial for your physical and emotional well-being. Consider the traits that you most value in your relationships, such as trust, respect, friendship, kindness, and honesty, and strive to demonstrate those virtues to others. While it is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life, make it a practice to spend time establishing and safeguarding your connections with those who are most important to you. With a little time, attention, and work, you can ensure that you provide individuals with the assistance they require while also receiving the same assistance.

Research has shown that strong interpersonal relationships have significant benefits for physical and psychological health. These relationships combat loneliness, increase resilience to stress, decrease the risk of depression and suicide, and promote overall well-being. Positive social connections contribute to a sense of belonging, support, and fulfilment, enhancing individuals’ quality of life.

Read More: Emotional Validation as a tool to improve Relationship

In conclusion, the psychology behind interpersonal relationships underscores the profound influence that the connections have on individuals’ lives. By understanding the dynamics, importance, and mechanisms of interpersonal relationships, individuals can cultivate and nurture meaningful connections that contribute to their happiness, health, and overall well-being.

References +
  • Cherney, K. (2019, January 24). How to maintain your interpersonal relationships. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/interpersonal-relationships#takeaway
  • Interpersonal Relationship Skills/Qualities. (n.d.). https://managementstudyguide.com/interpersonal-relationship-skills.htm#google_vignette
  • MSEd, K. C. (2023, April 14). Tips to maintain an interpersonal relationship. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-maintain-interpersonal-relationships-5204856
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