father teaching his son how to ride a bike

What Are 3 Types of Relationships?

Would you like to learn more about the most important 3 types of relationships?

Although there are many types of relationships, and each one is unique, there are 3 types of relationships that you should know more about.

Our Relationship With Ourselves

First and most importantly, let’s discuss our relationship with ourselves. This relationship is the most important one because it serves as the basis for all other relationship types.

closeup photo of primate looking at itself in a mirror this is the beginning of learning the 3 types of relationsihps
When we love ourselves, we can love others.

If we are not good with who we are and don’t love whoever that is, it is nearly impossible to love anyone else properly.

Learning to love ourselves is a process, especially for people who have survived trauma, are insecure, or have mental health issues.

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I am not a doctor, so take this with a grain of salt, but in my experience, self-love has the power to melt away or at least drastically reduce mental illness symptoms. In all of my years of battling mental illness, I never met a single person in any of my groups or therapy that loved themselves. Self-love may not be the solution to all mental health struggles, but it is a great foundation for healing.

Our relationship with ourselves can be nurtured in many ways.

cheerful black woman with wavy hairstyle smiling.  She's mastered the first type of the 3 types of relationships
Love yourself today, love others tomorrow

Self Care & Self Esteem

Self care is a big one that’s fairly easy to start with.

Once we get over the idea that taking care of ourselves is selfish, the possibilities are endless. Take a bubble bath, read a book, engage in your favorite hobby, eat good food, watch a movie..

Whatever it is that you like to do, use it to care for yourself. Practicing strong self care habits will pay dividends in the long run. You will feel less burnt out, and it will be easier to find the joy in your life.

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Self esteem is another important ingredient to add to our self-love recipe.

Again, there are many ways to boost and develop self esteem. I heard once that self esteem is grown through doing estimable acts.

In other words, do things that make you feel like a good person, and you will begin to believe that you are a good person. Sounds simple, right?

Start with helping other people. Frankly, this is the most sure fire way to feel good about yourself. Helping others is an amazing thing to do, and it’s an amazing feeling knowing that someone else is better off because of you.

soldier helping children, demonstrating one of the 3 types of relationships
There is always an opportunity to help others

And logically, helping others is a trait of a good person in most cultures around the globe. We would not have made it this far a species if we did not help each other out.

So, if you are acting like a good person, you will feel like a good person, and will eventually believe that you are a good person. This is a very important belief to have if you wish to love yourself.

Our Platonic Relationships

Once we’ve made some progress on our journey of self-love, it is time to evaluate our friendships.

First of all, it is helpful to define what being/having a good friend means to us. What is the nature of your ideal friendship? Jot down some ideas about what you want more of your friendships to be like.

Now, I realize that there are varying levels of closeness across friendships. I’m not saying that all friendships must be perfect or on the same level to count as healthy.

friends watching sunrise together.  They get at least one of the 3 types of relationships
Whatever you do, do it with friends

I’m just asking you to explore what you’re looking for in strong friendships, so that you can evaluate your current and future friendships in an organized way.

And lastly, ask yourself, “What kind of a friend am I?” This one can be tough to look at, but if you’ve done some of the self-love work mentioned above, you can do it.

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You will have developed some degree of self awareness and insight, and your self-love will protect you from your self criticism, should any come up.

Our Romantic/Intimate Relationship

Moving up the scale, here comes close partner relationships.

So at this point, you might be able to see how each of these 3 types of relationships builds on each other. Mastering them will greatly prepare you for major partner relationships.

grayscale photo of man kissing woman s nose while standing inside a train
The power of love is limitless

However you decide to engineer your love relationship, it is helpful to set down some agreements as early on as possible. You can do this together, as a pact between you and your partner, or you can do this with yourself.

Take some time for introspection, and determine who and how you want to be in this relationship.

For example, I find it very important that I do not judge Robert negatively, unless something really extreme were to happen. Even then, judging him wouldn’t help, but hey, we’re all human.

So in order to act in my integrity, I make a point of not judging him every time he does something I don’t like or agree with.

He is a free person, and I am grateful to have him in my life as exactly who he is. I can’t control him, but I can certainly control my attitude towards and about him.

stone artwork
Give love every chance you get

Now this all may sound nice, but is it really possible? The answer is, “Yes, it is.” It is possible for me today because I did the work to learn to love myself, to help others, and to be a good friend.

All of the skills that I learned from these other types of relationships serve me well today.

Oftentimes, any kind of personal development work will show up as useful in ways you never anticipated. And that is definitely the case here.

I Know I Said 3 Types of Relationships, but..

As a special bonus, let’s talk about our familial relationships, too!

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Woo, family relationships can be a challenge! But, they can also be some of the most rewarding relationships in our lives.

Familial relationships get complicated because there are so many varying dynamics between each family member and the other. And these dynamics affect the dynamics of other people’s relationships within the family.

family preparing food in the kitchen
Family makes the world go ’round

So things are exponentially more intricate from the get go here than in the other types of relationships we’ve mentioned so far. In those, for the most part, we only had ourselves or one other person to contend with.

So, to make family gatherings a little easier, my best advice is to keep things simple.

Don’t let family politics influence your relationships with each family member as an individual too much.

If Mom is mad at a sibling because of XYZ reason, don’t let that change your relationship with your sibling. Try to think of your connection with each relative as an isolated occurrence. This may be a challenge, but at least thinking of things from this perspective may calm things down a bit.

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If You Got One Thing From This Article on 3 Types of Relationships..

Remember what I said about not judging your significant other? Well, don’t judge your family members either. Or your friends, for that matter.. or yourself! Try to keep in mind that we are all imperfect people doing the best we can, and to always spread love wherever you go.

photo of people near wooden table
We are all in this together

Please share your stories with us in the comments section below. How do you behave in these 3 types of relationships? Did you find this article helpful? What resonated with you? What did you disagree with? We love hearing from you!

Also, like and share this article widely. Relationships is a difficult topic, and perhaps this post will help someone else out as well.

If you’d like to know more, try these links for more of our articles on relationships:

Why Do People Have Such a Hard Time Accepting Other People?

How To Not Let Things Bother You In a Relationship

Develop Self Love with these 15 tips

2 comments

  1. Hello Catherine. Positive article, well written. It is good to know I am not the only person who has difficulty letting friends and family own their own feelings.
    Laurel🥰

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