Does Emotional Intelligence Matter In A Relationship? Couples' Therapists Weigh In
When we talk about the ingredients for a healthy relationship, we tend to focus on trust, honesty, and communication. And while all these are definitely essential, there is one factor that actually underpins all the others, and often gets lost in the shuffle. I'm talking about emotional intelligence. Why does emotional intelligence matter in a relationship so much? Kerri-Anne Brown, a licensed mental health counselor and founder of Healing with Wisdom, a private psychotherapy practice in Orlando, Florida, tells Elite Daily. "[It’s] the ability to recognize emotions — and their impact — in yourself and others. This is so incredibly important in relationships as it helps couples effectively express and manage difficult emotions that arise.”
How can you tell if you or your partner are emotionally intelligent? According to the experts, it’s all in the way that we communicate with each other. How tapped into the other person's emotions we are and how well we are able to navigate difficult moments and conversations that naturally arise in relationships. While some people are naturally more inclined to emotional intelligence, the good news is that it's also a skill that can be learned — one with long-lasting benefits for your happiness and well-being. Here's why the experts say emotional intelligence really does matter.
1. You will be able to empathize more with one another.
One of the clearest signs of emotional intelligence is empathy, and recognizing and prioritizing the needs of your partner has a huge impact on the health of your relationship. “Empathy requires you to postpone your agenda and really tune into to what someone else is feeling and to understand those feelings,” says Brown. We all want to be seen and understood, and having a partner that is tuned into us, and vice versa, is a way to forge and deepen your bond.
2. You can have a critical conversation without it escalating.
Brown says that people who are emotionally intelligent are capable of receiving criticism well. Why that matters in a relationship is that sometimes, constructive criticism is necessary, and if it isn’t received or it escalates into a fight then it shuts down important communication. “Being open to criticism shows that you’re open to learning and growing,” she says. “Instead of feeling attacked or blamed, you view it as an opportunity to learn and understand, which helps you to keep your emotions in check.”
3. You’re able to be fully vulnerable with one another.
It's not easy to be vulnerable with other people, but in order to really connect with your partner you have to be able to drop your guard. Knowing how and when to do so is all a part of emotional intelligence, as well as recognizing the reasons why you may be holding back. “If a partner is able to identify a pattern in which they feel an emotion that makes them vulnerable and expresses that to you, they demonstrate emotional intelligence and a pulse on the relationship,” Christie Tcharkhoutian, licensed marriage and family therapist and professional matchmaker at Three Day Rule, tells Elite Daily.
4. You will be more able to express your feelings directly.
Brown says that being passive aggressive or using the silent treatment to manage conflict are signs of a lack of emotional intelligence — but there’s also a flip side. “A partner who is emotionally intelligent is verbally expressive and says what they mean and how they feel — respectfully,” she explains. This is important because speaking up is the only way to have your needs properly met. “An unexpressed need is an unmet need so being able to authentically share how you feel and ask for what you need from your partner is incredibly powerful in a relationship,” says Brown.
5. You will be able to apologize to each other and make up more quickly.
It can be hard to swallow your pride and admit you are wrong after an argument, but the ability to do so is a clear sign of emotional intelligence, and how you keep resentment from building up and poisoning the relationship. “[An emotionally intelligent partner is] quicker to apologize for wrongdoing,” says Tcharkhoutian. “They desire to maintain connection and are more intuitive about their part in creating the distance. They recognize and take ownership and seek to make amends ... They would rather be close than right.”
Ultimately, emotional intelligence matters because it breaks down barriers between you and you partner and allows you to understand one another. It also means the difference between a productive argument that brings you closer together, and a fight that escalates and eventually ends the relationship. I think we can all agree it's a pretty big deal, and an important aspect of any relationship that deserves attention and nurturing.