If your partner displays these 8 behaviors, they lack emotional intelligence

When something is a little off in your relationship, a lack of emotional intelligence in your partner could be the issue.

Dating someone who lacks this kind of intelligence can be problematic and a little lonely at times.

Arguments can quickly become blown out of proportion. And you can feel a weird sense of disconnection from them – especially when you feel sad or hurt.

A relationship with someone who lacks emotional intelligence isn’t always bad. Some couples learn how to navigate it once they’ve both reached an awareness.

But how do you reach that awareness? First, you need to know what the signs are.

If you think your partner lacks emotional intelligence, here are 8 behaviors they’ll probably display.

Up first:

1) They don’t notice when something’s wrong

Your partner isn’t a mind reader. They shouldn’t always know what’s wrong without you telling them. But they should be able to tell when something’s up with you.

If you’re acting differently, a partner with high emotional intelligence will notice. They might ask if you’re OK or consider what’s happened to you recently to figure out what’s wrong.

On the flip side, a partner who lacks emotional intelligence won’t ever know something’s wrong unless you tell them.

You could be very sad, and they’ll be completely oblivious. You could be extremely nervous, and they won’t even notice. You could be very uncomfortable at a social event with them, and they won’t even realize it!

It isn’t because they don’t care. It’s actually because they struggle to understand people’s emotions (including their own), so they aren’t very observant about yours.

But it can still feel like they don’t care. And while it may not be intentional on their part, this isn’t a good feeling.

2) They say insensitive things

My friend’s ex-boyfriend always had trouble “reading the room”.

He’d make all kinds of comments – sharing his (sometimes questionable) views on marriage, kids, people’s weight, political views, etc. – when there were quite clearly people in the room who had different views to him.

I.e., they were married, had kids, had weight issues, money problems, etc., etc.!

He wasn’t being intentionally rude. But he did lack the emotional intelligence to know what should and shouldn’t be said in front of certain people.

If your partner does the same, always saying insensitive things in front of you, your family, or your friends, they may lack emotional intelligence, too.

3) They don’t empathize with you

Another very clear sign your partner lacks emotional intelligence is if they lack a general sense of empathy.

If you told them you had a bad day at work, would they comfort you? Would they listen to you talk about it and say something reassuring?

Or would they tell you you’re being too sensitive and to get over it? Would they tell you it “isn’t that bad” and you’re making a big deal out of nothing?

If you told them your childhood pet passed away, would they apologize for your loss? Would they find it sad? Would they grieve with you?

Or would they sit in silence while you cry, not knowing what to say? Would they hug you and then completely forget it happened – asking what’s wrong if you were crying the next day?

If it’s the former, your partner likely has high empathy and high emotional intelligence. But if it’s the latter in both situations, they probably don’t.

4) They struggle to empathize with others

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It’s not just you they won’t empathize with when your partner lacks emotional intelligence. They won’t empathize with anyone – in your life or theirs.

They won’t even empathize with people on TV shows or in movies!

To them, emotions are complicated and unnecessary. They might even see them as weak (which definitely isn’t true!).

So you’ll never hear them say a film is sad, or that a news story made them angry, or be understanding about what someone might be going through.

Everything that happens, happens at face value to them. They won’t ever search for a deeper meaning or think there might be something external causing these things.

And this trait can leave you feeling very alone with them.

5) They don’t support you

When a friend of mine’s dad passed away unexpectedly, she was (understandably) crying a lot. Her boyfriend kept asking her “What’s wrong?” whenever she cried.

She confided that it’s been frustrating her, because there’s obviously one thing that’s wrong. After a couple of weeks, it was like he’d forgotten about her grieving entirely.

He’d get mad when her side of the housework slipped. He “didn’t understand” why her self-care went out the window.

If he had emotional intelligence, he might’ve stepped up and supported her (both physically and emotionally) while she was going through such a bad time.

But he didn’t. And it wasn’t because he didn’t love her enough. It was because he lacked the emotional intelligence and the empathy to understand what she was going through and know how to help.

If your partner acts similarly – not supporting you when you’re going through a rough patch – a lack of emotional intelligence could be the issue.

6) They don’t pick up on social or emotional cues

Picture this: A couple is having dinner with the girlfriend’s family. The guy starts talking and the girlfriend’s eyes widen. She lightly kicks him under the table.

He ignores her and continues talking. She taps him again, and then again, and then again. Eventually, he shouts out: “Why do you keep kicking me under the table?”.

Everyone in the room but him knows why she’s been kicking him under the table. Because she wanted him to stop talking.

When your partner lacks emotional intelligence, they’ll do things like this, too. You’ll give them subtle social cues, and they won’t pick up on them.

Like you’ll give them a look across the room to say you want to leave – and they won’t know what you’re saying at all.

Or you’ll say something like, “Oh, we can’t make it, we have plans that night!” – only for them to jump in and say, “Er no we don’t have plans, what are you talking about?”.

…not realizing that you’re making an excuse because you don’t want to go.

This is just the kind of thing your partner will do when they lack emotional intelligence.

7) They blame you for everything

Someone who lacks emotional intelligence is never wrong (in their eyes, anyway!). They are always right – and nothing that happens is ever their fault.

Why? Because people who lack emotional intelligence also lack self-awareness.

Everyone else is to blame except them – and that extends to you, too. When their behavior has repercussions, it’s always your fault rather than theirs.

Like if something went wrong, they’d blame you for not organizing things properly (even though they also didn’t organize those things).

Or even if they cheated on you, they’d find a way to blame you for it.

They don’t do this intentionally. It’s because they don’t have the emotional intelligence to recognize their feelings of disappointment and process them properly.

8) They have sudden emotional outbursts

things emotionally intelligent people never tolerate in a relationship If your partner displays these 8 behaviors, they lack emotional intelligence

Another thing your partner will do when they lack emotional intelligence is react (what some people might call) a little crazy sometimes.

They might be fine one moment – then suddenly lose all patience with you and shout about something very irrational.

It’s not because they have anger issues (although they might have these, too). It’s because they don’t recognize, understand, or acknowledge their own emotions.

So they’ll often let things build up and up and up – until they can’t take it anymore and they snap.

Like if you always mention when you’re out with his friends that he likes to be the little spoon.

Instead of him telling you that he doesn’t like it, he lets it slide over and over and over again. And one day, he snaps and hurls anger at you for all the times you said those things.

This is an especially hard thing to live with in a relationship. It can lead to a lot of unnecessary hurt and anger – when things could be resolved a lot sooner if they just talked about it with you when it first happened.

Final thoughts

Lacking emotional intelligence isn’t an excuse for someone being a bad boyfriend or girlfriend. But it could be the underlying reason why you’re not happy or fully satisfied in your relationship.

Emotional intelligence can be built. But it needs to be worked on by the person who lacks it – and they have to want it to gain it.

On your side, you have to support them, help them, and (essentially) wait it out if you want them to do things an emotionally intelligent person does in a relationship.

Or you can accept them as they are and continue the relationship as is. Or you could end things. There’s no right or wrong answer.

Ultimately, being in a relationship with someone who doesn’t share the same emotional intelligence as you do doesn’t always work – unless you’re both willing to compromise.

And just like working on it is an option, so is calling it quits. 

Picture of Amy Reed

Amy Reed

Amy Reed is a content writer from London working with international brands. As an empath, she loves sharing her life insights to help others. When she’s not writing, she enjoys a simple life of reading, gardening, and making a fuss over her two cats.

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