More wise words about love that we’ve come to rely on:
I’ve been told more than once in my life that arguing is a sign of a healthy relationship.
That, somehow, relationships without conflict are simply “fairy tales” and too good to be true.
The more I began to learn about emotional intelligence, the more I realized that this does not have to be true.
Other people, including our romantic partners, can say or do anything to us—but it is up to us how we respond or react to it.
We can choose to work out an issue or walk away. Having emotional intelligence gives us the ability to make that choice with clarity. It also allows us to connect deeply with other people by recognizing and respecting their emotions and developing empathy for them.
Understanding the importance of emotional intelligence in your relationship is a crucial aspect of experiencing a successful relationship.
What is Emotional IQ?
Emotional IQ, or emotional intelligence, is the ability to recognize your own emotions as well as the emotions of others. When you possess emotional intelligence, you are able to label your feelings and recognize the difference between different feelings.
For instance, you may be able to recognize that you are frustrated or disappointed instead of angry over a situation.
Developing your emotional IQ will help guide you through your thoughts and behaviors as well. This relates to the concept of “self-awareness,” which involves being mindful of your thoughts and feelings and being able to control whether you react emotionally to a situation or respond logically to it.
Emotional intelligence also ties in directly with empathy, which is the ability to connect with other people’s personal experiences and feelings.
The Importance of Emotional Intelligence
Having emotional intelligence will lead you on a path to a happy and fulfilled life. Being in touch with your emotions means you can deal with negative feelings and embrace the positive ones.
It also affects the overall quality of your life and influences your behavior and your relationships.
This is because developing emotional intelligence awards you with emotional regulation. Having emotional regulation means you can control strong emotions and avoid impulsive actions caused by those feelings.
In other words, it allows you to take the time to process those negative emotions, look at the situation, and make better decisions about how to act.
You can imagine how effective that is in interpersonal relationships—especially romantic relationships.
Emotional IQ and Your Relationship
The more out of tune you are with your emotions, as well as the emotions of your partner, the more likely you will experience conflict and misunderstandings within the relationship.
This applies both with deeply connected relationships as well as dead-end relationships.
When it comes to Emotional IQ, it makes you more aware of changes in the relationship—those shifts in the relationship dynamic that require either an effort to change something or the need to bail.
It allows you to recognize what is working and not working in the relationship.
Using Emotional IQ to Strengthen Your Relationship
Here are some ways in which emotional intelligence can strengthen the relationship between you and your partner:
1. Assertive Communication
Knowing how you feel, and giving yourself time to properly react to it, means that you can assertively communication your wants and needs in a relationship. You can also more easily recognize your boundaries and lay them out directly to your partner.
Being able to assertively communicate also helps prevent you from bottling up issues—you are being open and honest about your feelings. You don’t hold things back and allow resentment to build.
I know I’ve been in situations of conflict, with romantic partners and otherwise, where all my past transgressions against this person were thrown into my face.
I never understood why they hung on to these issues and never approached me about them when they happened. It hurt, and it certainly changed how I felt about my relationship with them.
When you directly communicate with your partner, you are dealing with problems as they arise and resolving them in a fair and straightforward manner.
2. Respond Instead of Reacting
I mentioned this before, but being able to pause and take a moment to stop and think before acting or speaking is a huge part of emotional intelligence and a crucial part of a healthy relationship.
Imagine that you found out your partner lied to you.
Your initial inclination may be to react emotionally and let loose all your anger on your partner. All this does is creates a conflict and a tense and negative atmosphere.
I’m not saying you should ignore the issue, but when you respond instead of react, you are giving yourself time to approach the situation with a clear head.
You may find out a deeper reason as to why your partner lied and begin to work on building trust again. Or you may decide that this crosses one of your personal boundaries.
Either way, decisions are better made in regards to any situation when you pause and respond instead of impulsively reacting.
3. Practice Empathy
In order to empathize with someone, especially a romantic partner, you need to be able to connect with their emotions.
The more you are in tune with your own feelings, the more you can recognize and understand the feelings of others.
However, empathy does not require that you completely understand your partner’s feelings—it means accepting and valuing how they feel and who they are.
Whether or not you agree with how they feel, it’s important to respect how their emotions and what caused them.
Don’t mistake respect with responsibility. You are not responsible for the feelings your partner displays. They can make the same choice as you to respond instead of react—even if you are the cause of the feelings that lead to this choice.
4. Active Listening
Emotional intelligence is not simply a matter of recognizing and paying attention to your emotions, but the emotions of others as well.
Apart from being empathetic, you can easily tune in to your partner’s feelings by actively listening to them.
Active listening is not just waiting for your turn to speak—it’s engaging with what’s being said and trying to understand your partner’s point-of-view.
When you find yourself having a hard time focusing on what’s being said, ask your partner for clarification. Or you can repeat back what they said to ensure you heard them correctly.
5. Create a Positive Environment
When you are open with your emotions, and respectful of the emotions of your partner, there is a potential for your relationship to get bogged down by feelings.
Remember to keep your relationship’s environment positive.
Practice gratitude by expressing to your partner why you are thankful for them. Don’t forget to have fun, provide support, and express the positive emotions, too.
Love is a Two-Way Street
I talk a lot about what you can do to increase your emotional intelligence in a relationship—but love works both ways.
The onus to make the relationship work falls on your partner as well. It’s not up to you to bear the burden of a one-sided relationship that isn’t working.
As much as you want to use emotional intelligence to connect with your partner, remember that it can also provide clarity and insight into a relationship that is not thriving.