Interpersonal relationships are relationships between two or more people, based on social associations, connections or affiliations. They from casual meetings, schoolmates, colleagues to friends and family. In a large way, these relationships mold us into what we are, after all you are the company you keep. They are dynamic, they change continuously as we grow.
Interpersonal relationships have a beginning, a life span and an end; they grow gradually growing or deteriorating with an increase and decrease in emotional distance. The natural development of inter-personal relationships follows five stages:
- Acquaintance -This is where two people meet, and know each other casually beyond first impressions. Acquaintance can continue indefinitely; there is no pressure to move beyond this point. This is the case with majority of the people we interact with.
- Buildup -Beyond acquaintance, there is the build up stage. This is what we commonly refer to as a first name basis. In this stage, people care about each other and trust starts getting built up gradually. Intimacy, compatibility and genuine interest in the other person filter the relationships which progress beyond this point.
- Continuation - This is a long term commitment to forming a long term relationship; friendship, romantic relationship or marriage. It is a long and stable period characterized by increased interaction and decreased emotional distance. Trust, caring and even love emerges in this stage bringing about continued growth and development.
- Deterioration -While not all relationships deteriorate, most of the ones that do have a few red flags. These include increased emotional distance, avoiding deep communication, boredom, resentment, or dissatisfaction. There are two ways in which this stage can spiral; the U-turn back to the continuation stage or the downward spiral to the next stage. The U-turn is mostly because the worth of the relationship is worth re-organizing some aspects in interaction to renew the relationship.
- Termination - This is due to irreconcilable differences, disinterest, distance, or death. At times, it deteriorates back into the first stage, and the depth aspect disappears.
Relationships at times have a level of transitivity; you can become friends with your friends friend, brother/ sisters friends, spouses friends, or colleagues/ classmates friends. However, it is important not to have sexual relationship in instances where it may damage the relationship. It brings about competition as opposed to a progressive relationship.