Chapter 8: Interpersonal Relationships

The English Poet, John Donne, once stated “No man is an island (Donne, 1964),” which is an apt statement when applied to communication, as interacting with others is an important (and inevitable) part of our existence. In our lives, we will be a part of thousands of relationships, both in personal and professional contexts, ranging from superficial to intimate. While it takes between 90 seconds and 4 minutes for someone to decide if they like another person (BBC, 2014), developing and maintaining relationships is more complicated and time consuming. In this chapter, we will cover four stages of relationships, from beginning to end, and provide communication theories that address the how, why, and who of relationship formation. We will also provide strategies for repairing relationships, discuss the contextual nuances of self-disclosure, and reflect on ways to manage tensions that arise in our relationships.


Essential Questions:

  • What is the nature of the different types and stages of interpersonal relationships, and why are they important?
  • How can we work to maintain interpersonal relationships in increase satisfaction?

Successful students will be able to:

  • define interpersonal relationship
  • identify characteristics of interpersonal relationships
  • describe four stages of intimate relationships
  • recognize and differentiate between various communication theories that help to explain relational stages
  • identify relational dialectic maintenance strategies
  • recognize contextual influences on self-disclosure
  • recognize the influence of technology use on relational satisfaction

  • Sections 8.0 – 8.2.1, –, 8.3.2, & 8.3.3: Interpersonal Communication Abridged Textbook (I.C.A.T.); Central New Mexico Community College; 2019; CC BY NC SA 4.0
  • Sections,,, & adapted from Communication in the Real World: An Introduction to Communication Studies; University of Minnesota; 2016; CC BY NC SA 4.0
  • Sections & 8.3.1: adapted from Survey of Communication Studies; 2018; CC BY SA 3.0
  • Sections,,, & adapted from Wikipedia; CC BY SA 4.0
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