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What is a Relationship?

A relationship refers to the interpersonal connection that an individual shares with another person. Relationship types can vary according to the nature and closeness of the connection. However common types of relationships include:

  • Familial relationships
  • Friendships
  • Romantic relationships

Within these, love is often an integral component. Depending on the type of relationship, love can take many forms, which will be further discussed in this article.

Romantic relationships

Romantic love refers to deep feelings of attachment towards a partner or spouse, which are expressed through physical and emotional intimacy. Whilst they are often confused, romantic love differs from lust. Lust is typically driven by idealistic infatuation and the urge to procreate. While romantic love is love between partners which cultivated over time through mutual trust, commitment and compassion.

Familial Relationships

These refer to relationships between family members. Individuals in the same family may share a strong connection and experience what is known as familial love. Familial love from a parent is typically significant for a child, as it may influence their later relationships. Love is typically displayed to the child through warmth and responsiveness.


Friendships are a source of companionship and emotional support. The development of healthy relationships can contribute positively to mental and physical health. A close friendship can form in several ways, but typically require:

  • Proximity
  • Similar interests
  • Reciprocation of affection
  • Discussion of oneself

These factors may occur naturally over time and are strengthened through communication, honesty and trust.


Fehr, B. (1996). Friendship Processes. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Kochendorfer, L., & Kerns, K. (2017). Perceptions of Parent-Child Attachment Relationships and Friendship Qualities: Predictors of Romantic Relationship Involvement and Quality in Adolescence. A Multidisciplinary Research Publication, 46(5), 1009-1021. doi:10.1007/s10964-017-0645-0

Wilson, G. D., & McLaughlin, C. (2001). The science of love. London: Fusion Press.