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5 reasons why emotional intelligence matters in relationships

Updated: May 19, 2023

Emotional Intelligence in relationships

Emotions are complex and becoming more aware of your inner landscape of feelings helps you to become more self-aware and more attuned to those you are in a close relationship with. Although many might consider Emotional Intelligence (EI) as a personality trait you are born with, it is a skill that can be developed.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to recognise the emotional signals within oneself, manage their own emotions, and be able to perceive the emotions of others.

How to develop Emotional Intelligence:

  • Learn to regulate your emotions

Emotional regulation refers to the management of your emotions to a level that has less impact on yourself and others. Managing your emotions doesn't mean suppressing your emotions. It's important to remember that all emotions, including the negative and difficult ones, are valid and they have a function to play for our survival. Anger, for example, is one of the most common emotions that gets suppressed. If you grew up hearing messages like, "Don't be angry", you may have learned that anger is a bad thing that needs to be blocked. Regulating emotions is like turning the dial of a radio to a level that is manageable so that it can be understood better. To do this, you need to first identify or name the emotion you are experiencing.

" Naming an emotion begins the process of regulating it and reflecting on it " - Sue Johnson.
  • Understand the layers of emotions through self-reflection

We are quick to identify the reactionary emotions, such as anger or anxiousness, both in ourselves and others. However, often underneath these secondary emotions lie more vulnerable, primary emotions, like - hurt, shame, guilt, fear, etc that are harder to recognise and understand. By reflecting on your inner emotions through either mindfulness or journaling practice, or simply tuning into yourself once you are regulated can help you become more aware of the complex layers of emotions within you. You may then be able to express these softer emotions with your loved one and develop a stronger emotional bond with each other.

  • Pay attention to the emotional signals in others.

Tune into your loved one's emotional cues, body language, and facial expressions to start understanding how they may be feeling; listen to them without interrupting, and respond with validating statements.

Why is Emotional Awareness important in relationships?

  1. You develop more empathy for each other: When you learn to understand and accept your own emotions, it is also possible for you to understand and validate the feelings of others. When we have the awareness of our own emotions and are able to regulate ourselves, we can listen more openly to our partners, enabling empathy to develop. Whereas when we are feeling triggered, we may be quick to judge our partners or blame them.

  2. You will be able to talk about important things and resolve problems together: When our buttons are pushed, we often react with one of these default actions: to fight, flee or freeze. This is quite a natural response to when we are feeling under threat. When the part of our brains that is responsible for the fight/flight/freeze reaction is activated, and our emotions take over us, our cognitive abilities are arrested. Hence, when you get triggered you lose control of your emotions and problem-solving becomes difficult. When you have learnt the art of becoming emotionally aware, you can recognise and manage the triggers as they arise, hence enhancing your capacity to talk through difficult topics and resolve issues better.

  3. You are able to clearly express your deeper emotions and needs: Most often we think that we have communicated what we need with our spouses, but it is likely that it is our frustrations about their behaviour that we express more than what it is that we really need from them deep down. As mentioned earlier, the primary driving emotions are harder to see, but when you have the ability to tap into that, you also gain the ability to express that deeper emotion with your important other.

  4. You become closer and more intimate with each other: As humans, we have a biological tendency to seek closeness from others for our own safety and security. However, if you learnt very early on, that letting yourself be vulnerable with another person will cause you hurt, you may have developed strategies to resist that emotional closeness. Having a deeper understanding of your complex emotions as well as that of your partner enables you to take steps closer to each other, and feel more connected.

  5. Repair any hurts without letting resentment take over: It's not that emotionally intelligent people never have arguments or react with anger, but they are able to go back and repair the rupture in the relationship, due to their ability to self-reflect. With a calm, regulated state of mind, you will be able to take responsibility for your own part in a conflict, express your feelings better and work towards repairing as a team.

I hope the above information sheds light on a few things you can do to enhance the health of your relationship. Some relationships, however, do need the support of a specialist to help process the emotional blocks and break any existing negative cycle/patterns. If you are struggling with your relationship, please reach out for support. I offer a free 15-minute phone consultation to discuss your needs from therapy.

Call 0434 947 255 or make an appointment online today:

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Shobana Suresh

Registered Clinical Counsellor

+61 434 947 255

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