Emotional Intelligence in Relationships

Happy couple smiling at each other.

Finding love is a beautiful experience but trying to master it can be tricky. However, understanding the role of emotional intelligence in relationships can help you create a lasting connection. There are many challenges one might face throughout relationships that may put individuals in a mode of distress, anger and confusion. Through experiencing these ups and downs in relationships, one also needs to become comfortable with recognizing and managing one’s emotions while acknowledging and understanding the partner’s emotions. Individuals who understand emotional intelligence and apply the following elements are more likely to achieve relationship success.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

The term emotional intelligence was created in 1990 by Peter Salovey and John Mayer. The notion stemmed from the fact that emotions have a way of controlling and diminishing our cognitive abilities, in some instances.

There are four important elements of emotional intelligence:

  1. Self-awareness: The ability to process one’s feelings and comprehend how they might impact the decisions, thoughts and behaviors of others. Self-aware people are often highly conscientious, meaning they are diligent and careful in how they speak and interact with others.
  1. Self-Control: The ability to cope with stressful situations and remain clear-minded to effectively deal with situations that elicit strong emotions. This element involves the skill of using emotional information in decision-making.
  1. Social awareness: The ability to understand and identify emotional cues from others. Those who are socially aware understand how to motivate, engage and connect with others on a deeper level.
  1. Relationship Management: The ability to cultivate a positive environment for others and effectively deal with conflicts.

Why does emotional intelligence matter in relationships?

Developing emotionally intelligent relationships is imperative in long-term commitments. Rocky relationships end with rash decisions, coupled with strong emotions like fear, anger and lust. These are all issues of low or poor emotional intelligence. Those with high emotional intelligence can consider other people’s perspectives, experiences and emotions to use this information to explain why people behave the way they do. Emotional intelligence allows individuals to accept criticism and responsibility for their actions, to share their feelings with others and to compromise. It grants individuals excellent listening skills and the capacity to empathize with others.

Emotional intelligence is crucial in relationships. Fortunately, there are ways to strengthen one’s emotional intelligence and use it to improve well-being, gain communication skills and build long-lasting relationships.

How to use emotional intelligence to build strong relationships:

Effective Communication

Emotional intelligence does not come easy to everyone, and there is a broad spectrum which one could fall into. This intuitive understanding of emotions does not come easy to most, and this is okay. What an individual lacks in EI can easily be made up for with effective communication. Improving communication skills is not merely about talking but listening as well. Communication can be verbal, non-verbal, written and visual. Partners can improve their communication by sharing experiences and showing affection and appreciation by comforting one another and caring for them when they are down. Learning more about their partner will make an individual more sensitive to their temperament, ticks and how they deal with conflict. This information will help one respond in a way that is conducive to managing the conflict – not squashing it – and progressing in the relationship.

Be Intentional

Throughout long-term relationships, individuals learn different quirks about their partner. They understand them on a deeper level. Knowing one’s partner to this extent allows an individual to be more intentional about words and behaviors. The mind is often on autopilot, which may encourage one to make decisions that are best for themselves without thinking about others. However, switching to a more intentional system of thinking provides tools to negotiate and compromise on things that would make one’s partners happy.

Recognize Patterns

Every individual has their own set of programmed responses and behaviors, whether instinctual or learned. Patterns such as writing, breathing and speaking are beneficial as they allow individuals to perform these actions with little to no thought. These ingrained patterns are helpful until an emotional situation arises. Some people’s instincts could be to walk away, and some may be to raise their voice. The reaction is unconscious. Recognizing these patterns will allow individuals to be conscious of their triggers. A helpful way to identify these patterns would be to ask questions, keep a journal and ask friends and family.  

Relationship-Ready Rehash

When relationships end, one might ask themselves what they could have done to change things. Or, on the contrary, they might question why they stayed in a toxic relationship. By utilizing these tips and critical components of emotional intelligence in relationships, individuals should be able to develop the tools to create and nurture long-lasting and healthy relationships.

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