During her early years in the Academy, Sakura was frequently bullied by others due to her large forehead. To try and combat this, Sakura used her bangs to hide her forehead, fuelling the other kids' teasing by indicating she was sensitive about it. Ino Yamanaka, realising this, helped Sakura by giving her a red ribbon that she used as a way of drawing attention to the cuter features of her forehead, which helped Sakura overcome her insecurity. The two became best friends and Sakura grew more confident, developing her own unique personality under Ino's guidance. Despite this, Sakura felt that she was living in Ino's shadow and longed to prove herself as Ino's equal. Later, when Sakura found out that Ino also had a crush on Sasuke Uchiha, Sakura ended their friendship so that they could compete for Sasuke's love, thus beginning a bitter rivalry between the two.
Sakura is naturally hot-headed and irritable, and because of that nature, she tends to hit people out of anger on more than one occasion (the victim usually being Naruto Uzumaki), but most of the time, she is relatively kind, cheerful, and rational. In the anime, Sakura has been shown to be a bit of a flirt and uses this to her advantage: with one such case being when Naruto asked her out for dinner, though she only agreed if he paid for her half as well. Although sensitive and quick to cry, Sakura has shown to be strong-willed and determined, not one to lose or give up in a fight easily. In addition, she has a very strong sense of being useful, and is often frustrated with herself for being a burden and not being helpful, often having to rely on either Naruto and Sasuke for help in Part I. One of her greatest regrets was relying solely on Naruto to bring Sasuke back, burdening him with the promise while she couldn't do anything but cry. It was with that resolve that she sought apprenticeship from Tsunade and since training with her, Sakura has improved, but still frets over her ability to only help others in one way.
Unlike the rest of Team 7, Sakura has not suffered any heavy losses during her childhood. Therefore, Sakura took for granted things that her team-mates desired, such as family and friends. She nevertheless is more understanding of her team-mates and others, and does not hesitate to ask if she does not understand something or if it bothers her.
At the start of the series, Sakura had a deep infatuation for Sasuke Uchiha, rooted in his good looks, cunning, cool attitude, and prodigious talents. For that reason, many of Sakura's early appearances were dedicated to her continuing efforts to win his affection. As the story progressed, she began to recognise Sasuke as a real person with imperfections, and developed a more sincere desire to be there for him and later fell in love with him. Sakura also became concerned that Sasuke will someday abandon her and the rest of Konoha in his quest for power. When her fears came true at the end of Part I, Sakura did all that she could to stop Sasuke from leaving, such as professing her love for him and offering to join him. Despite thanking her and sounding grateful, Sasuke knocked Sakura unconscious and left the village.
Since then, Sakura has made it her personal goal to bring Sasuke home. Although she still worries about his well-being, Sakura is willing to attack him if it means returning him to Konoha. As time goes on and Sasuke becomes an increasingly more dangerous criminal, Sakura recognises that Sasuke must be stopped at all costs. Despite agreeing that they had no choice but to kill Sasuke themselves to prevent Konoha from being involved in a war by his criminal actions or his death at a foreign country's hand, Sakura was immensely saddened and distraught at the notion nonetheless. Later on, she told Naruto that she no longer has any feelings for Sasuke since he just keeps breaking her heart and states that she loves him instead, though Naruto and a few of the onlookers knew that she was lying and suspected that Sakura was hiding something. Her team-mate Sai at the time even commented that she was still in love with Sasuke, which is later proven to be true, and that she wants to kill him so that he does not sink any lower. Upon meeting Sasuke once again, Sakura becomes upset by how corrupted Sasuke has become and tries to kill him. She ultimately cannot bring herself to do so, being brought to tears as she started remembering all they went through together as members of Team 7. She has since come to accept that Naruto is the only one who can do anything about Sasuke. Though she is deeply saddened by what Sasuke has become, it is shown that she is still in love with him nonetheless.
Sakura's relationship with Naruto, like with Sasuke, also changes throughout the series. When they first became a team, she was rather rude and disrespectful towards him, going as far as to insult or degrade him at any chance she got, and even stated that the one thing she doesn't like was Naruto (mainly because he interfered with her attempts to gain Sasuke's affections and for being a constant nuisance at the time). However, as the series progressed, Sakura realised that her negative views of him were wrong as Naruto continuously showed his worth as a ninja as well as his dedication to his team-mates. After the Chūnin Exams and missions, Sakura realises that Naruto is getting stronger and envies him, so she decides to train harder. After Sasuke defected from Konoha, Sakura pleads to Naruto, believing him to be the only one capable of bringing Sasuke back. When Naruto promises to bring Sasuke back to Konoha, Sakura realises just how committed Naruto is to her happiness, and how he has always been there for her. However, Naruto fails and is left in the hospital after losing to Sasuke, though he vows to someday fulfill the promise he made to her. Realising the lengths Naruto will go to for her, and inspired by his determination, Sakura spends the next three years training with Tsunade so that in the future she can join Naruto in his quest to bring Sasuke back.
In Part II, Sakura learns of the various hardships Naruto faces: the Nine-Tails and Akatsuki. Saddened by the impact both forces have had on his life, Sakura becomes protective of Naruto and tries to do whatever she can to help him overcome these obstacles. Sakura begins to empathise with Naruto, and develops a deep friendship with him, due to their spending a lot of time together. Later, Sai explains to her just how deep Naruto's love for her truly is, and the level of pain that trying to fulfil his promise has caused, filling Sakura with guilt. After the events of the Five Kage Summit, she confesses to Naruto that she loves him, no longer caring about Sasuke, and tries to get him to give up on his promise. However, Naruto does not believe her, and claims she is lying to herself, stating he knows her better than that. Sai later confirms this, and tells them about the ulterior motives of Sakura's confession, stating that it was actually an attempt to release the promise Naruto made for her and distract him while she and the group hunt down and kill Sasuke. Although she is told that Naruto loves her, Sakura while still caring for him as a close friend and team-mate, does not reciprocate these feelings for him as they are ultimately one sided on Naruto's part.
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