Skip to main content

A Breakdown of Interpersonal Relationships

Written by Finleigh. R | Behaviour Support Practitioner 

Interpersonal relationships are a core component of an individual’s overall wellbeing. It is the social connection we experience with others that rely on satisfaction and trust (Stewart-Brown, 2005). They can exist between family, friends, partners, or co-workers.

As social creatures, humans benefit significantly from positive interpersonal relationships, some of which include; social skills, reduced stress, improved emotional wellbeing, and greater overall life satisfaction (Segrin & Taylor, 2007). Positive relationships consist of satisfaction and trust where each partner meets the other needs and has the capacity for empathy and intimacy (Oliveira et al., 2022).

However, when there is a breakdown in these interpersonal relationships, individuals begin to experience deficits in their psychological, as well as physical wellbeing. Poor interpersonal relationships occur when there is an imbalance, where one or both parties do not contain the capacity or empathy or intimcity. One may exploit the other for their own benefit, or individuals’ needs are not being met which can lead to a lack of trust and safety (Segrin & Taylor, 2007).

Poor interpersonal relationships or isolation can result in inadequate social skills, increased stress, lower life satisfaction, higher risk of depression, and shorter life expectancy (Oliveira et al., 2022)

Some warning signs of poor interpersonal relationships or isolation:

  • Loneliness
  • Persistent sadness
  • Low self-confidence
  • Unstable moods
  • Reluctance to engage in conversation
  • Self-doubt
  • Lack of trust
  • Feeling unsafe
  • Poor listening skills – speaking over the other or dismissing the other person’s opinions or beliefs
  • Heavy criticism 
  • Chronic stress
  • Boundaries are not respected

Strategies to build or improve interpersonal relationships:

  • Active listening
  • Find common interests
  • Be open to differences
  • Establishing your boundaries 
  • Respecting others boundaries
  • Understanding the limitations of others capabilities in meeting your needs, knowing one person cannot meet them all
  • Know your own limitations in meeting their needs
  • Respecting yourself and your needs
  • Allow room for vulnerability to cultivate trust
  • Show appreciation and gratitude
  • Enjoy the time you spend together
  • Communicate honesty
  • Disagreement and arguments are natural

Ultimately, interpersonal relationships are necessary for our overall wellbeing. The relationships where there is a mutual understanding and respect offers the biggest reward. It is a basic human necessity, which provides a sense of safety, hope, and belonging. 



  1. Oliveira, D., Carter, T. and Aubeeluck, A. (2022). Editorial: Interpersonal wellbeing across the life span. Frontier Psychology.

  2. Segrin, C. and Taylor, M. (2007). Positive interpersonal relationships mediate the association between social skills and psychological well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 43(4).

  3. Stewart-Brown, S. (2005). Interpersonal relationships and the origins of mental health. Journal of Public Mental Health, 4(1), 24-29.