(Last Updated On: July 8, 2014)




When you hear or see the word relationship what comes into your mind? Friends, partners, family members, peers and the community are the kind of people who linger your mind. They are the people who coin the word relationship. Then the question is, what is the meaning of the word relationship? According to Collins dictionary the word relationship means the dealings and feelings that exist between people or groups. It also refers to emotional sexual affairs or association by blood or marriage. The same word “relationship” is defined by Oxford dictionary as the way that individual people and groups of people feel about each other and behave towards each other.

Now, taking an example of the youth lets see their networks of their relationships. Who are the people a young person relate to? Family members, partners, friends, community and professionals are the people a young person have relationship with.


Their are four main types of relationships; family relationships, friendships, casual relationships and romantic relationships. Family relationships involves domestic group with degree of kinship. Here the people involved are such as parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins, step families and many others. Family relationships are the primary relations as they are the first a child is inducted to just after birth. They are both important and difficult to maintain. Important because they provide settings upon which people construct personal and social identities. They are difficult on the other hand because at times individuals are blocked in their relations with kins by anger, hurt, mistrust and confusion.

The second type of relationship is friendships. A friend is a person you know well and regard with affection, trust and respect. Friends may include the best friend and the others. According to (Bauman:1993,184) friendship is an elective affinity based on an ethical stance in which a degree of self-sacrifice is entailed…….there is readiness to sacrifice oneself for one’s friend.

Thirdly type is casual relationship. They are formed with people you encounter everyday, that is anyone who is not a family member, friend or share intimacy with. Good relationships start with casual relationships. Lack of mutual respect among casuals leads to relationships without mutual respect. Casual relationship may occur at professional level or acquaintances. Professionals are the people you relate to in­terms skills and education such as lectures, co-workers and employers. Acquaintance are the people you have met and you know slightly but not well.

The last type of is romantic relationship. In romantic relations the partners have behaviour of caring and affectionate to each other and they have a feeling of love. Intimate relationships is the one which you can be truly yourself with someone you respect and are respected in return. An intimate person is close and to whom you can be completely open and honest to. Romantic relationship involve an intensity of love relationship in which the other is imbued with extraordinary virtues like beauty so that the relationship overrides all either considerations including material ones. Romantic relationships are no always intimate. The best example of this type is the one between boyfriend and girlfriend.

It should be noted that by portraying yourself as a polite and friendly, people will draw to you and will be likely be attracted either intimately of romantically.


As we have seen earlier, young person’s network of relationship revolve around the family, friends, peers, partners, professionals and the community. The family involves kins like parents, siblings etc. Friends include the best friend then the other friends. Peers are people such as agemates, workmates and schoolmates. Professionals involve teachers, lecturers, employers etc. Partners like girlfriend(s)/boyfriend(s) then the community like acquaintances and neighbours.

Relationships with partners have been seen as the principle component of young people’s transition to adulthood. Youth transition has been understood to take place in linear terms and cultural understanding of the young people. This has been mirrored by the intimate relationships. According to (Bradford:2012) linear transition associated with partnering has followed a familiar path, predicted on a normative heterosexuality:

  • being single
  • meeting potential partner
  • developing a relationship” going steady”
  • engagement
  • marriage
  • having children



First relationships reflects who we are. Friends, workmates and other people we relate with show whether we are good or bad. Having relationships with people who are immoral means that even our ways are immoral. Relationships figures out our own character, behaviour and reactions.

Second, provide soul companion, ally and soul mates. Relationships like romance and the family gives one soul mates upon which provides comfort.

Third relationships especially the family members provides settings upon which people construct personal and social recognition. They provide social identities and affirmation especially the young people.

Fourth, the people we relate with are sources of advice and feedback. For example parents may advice their son/daughter on issues of marriage. Friends and professionals may offer advice concerning social life issues, education and work.

Fifth, families, partners and friends give us obligations which shape us to be responsible. For example in a family the parents are obligated to work hard for their children. In friendships a friend is suppose to be there for assistance.

Lastly but not the least, friend, family members partners and peers provide happiness which is a way of dealing with stress. Just sharing experiences, stories and plans with people you have relationship with makes you feel richer, less stress and healthier. This makes us live longer and happy.


As indicated earlier, relationships are both imperative and difficult to maintain. They involve sacrifice and compromise for the sake of the other person. Relationships are face by many problems. Starting with family relationships, family members are faced by problems such as divorce, alcoholic and drug taking abused parents, abusive parents, parents fight, over protective parents, childlessness and many others. These endemic problems in families make relationships at family levels to be hideous.

Friendships are not spared neither. Sometimes friends make themselves too busy to make plans, break plans or too busy to know what is going on around. Some friends do not stand others spouses or boyfriends/girlfriends. Still friendships face the problem of ignorance, whereby one is ignored by their friend(s) in their plans.

Romantic relationships are the most vulnerable of all types of friendships. Dishonesty, lack of commitment, in-law complications, denial of conjugal rights lack of trust and financial stress are some of the problems that make sanity fail to prevail in romantic relations.

Other problems generally facing relationships are failure to understand the people we relate with, traumatic life, division of chores and tasks, one being bored with life, going behind the back, difference in opinions, jealousy, competition, secrets and betrayal among others.


It should be noted that the relationships we hold change and develop over time as we grow, moving towards equality. Relationships are unique and should be handled differently however, there are common principles which generally govern all relationships. First you should stay involved with each other. This can be through care, being concerned, and showing interest.

Second, conflicts and disagreements should be resolved whenever they arise. Postponing, taking alcohol and ignorance of the problem only cause temporally solution. A more reliable solving conflict strategy should be considered whenever conflict arises.

Third, external relationships and interest should be kept alive. External relationships are reflection of internal relationships. No one can meet all needs, so having outside relationships strengthen social networks.

Fourth, constant communication is quite imperative. Connection through direct communication is the key part of any relationship. Feeling comfortable in expressing your ideas, needs, fears and desires, trust and bonds are strengthened.

Fifth, one should focus on giving unconditionally. In a relationship you should give to the best of the others interest. It should be a two way process; give and take. The other party should given an opportunity to give.

Sixth, honour every action or behaviour done by other person for your sake. Remember it is intended for positive outcome. People will always do the better option they have for your sake. When the actions and desires are undesirable remember that its the best available option for them. If they had a better option they could have taken it.

Seven, taking care of your own health. For one to take care of others they should take care of their own emotional, physical, psychological and relational needs so that they take care of others needs in return.

Lastly, establishing boundaries is important in relationships. Boundaries maintain individuality, while enjoying mutual respect, friendship legality, accountability and love. This helps avoid unhealthy behaviours.

Other virtues of good relationships are treating others with trust, love, respect and getting on peoples maps.



Giddens A(2000) Runaway world, How globalization is reshaping our lives, london book profile

Bradford s(2012) Sociology, youth and youth work practice, young people’s relationships, Newyork palgrave and macmillan.



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