It takes emotional intelligence to learn from our relationship mistakes.
Thankfully, this kind of intelligence can be improved over time when we truly make the effort to examine ourselves and the role we play in our own relationships.
Here are eight mistakes emotionally intelligent women learn to avoid repeating in their relationships over time:
1) Not respecting boundaries
As they engage in relationships, emotionally intelligent women become increasingly aware of their boundaries, what they like and dislike, and what they will and won’t tolerate.
They make their boundaries known to others–and they’re weary of people who constantly question, challenge, test or negate their boundaries.
Likewise, they respect other people’s boundaries and avoid challenging, testing or negating them.
They know that relationships must be free from manipulation and coercion to truly thrive.
They practice letting go and relinquishing control, even and especially when things don’t go their way.
They respect healthy boundary setting because they know the value and importance of this for building and maintaining healthy relationships.
2) Avoiding pain at all costs
Emotionally intelligent women know it’s not always possible to avoid getting hurt in relationships.
Even in the best relationships, they know it’s possible for friends and partners to hurt or trigger them.
Instead of avoiding pain at all costs, they use their discretion and handle each situation on a case-by-case basis.
They think through their options, have the conversations they need to have, give chances if they feel they’re warranted, and create space and boundaries as needed.
They build self-knowledge through relationships, learning what they can and can’t handle, with the gentle awareness that this might change over time.
3) Not taking any risks in love
Emotionally intelligent women know there is some vulnerability and risk when it comes to relationships.
But they also know what’s on the other side of the potential pain: the prospect of intimacy and love.
A friend of mine once compared love to a gamble – not a revolutionary idea, but it really made me think.
‘The more you invest and care for your relationships, the bigger the risk of being hurt,’ she said. ‘But the bigger the reward, too.’
I knew it meant a lot for my friend to admit this because she, like me, was in the habit of protecting herself from the risks that came with love.
This is a sign of an emotionally intelligent woman:
They invest in relationships that are meaningful to them while guarding their heart and managing their expectations.
4) Not communicating clearly
Smart women communicate their wants and needs clearly and in ways that fit the rules and expectations of the relationship, whether it be professional, platonic, familial, or romantic.
Expressing their wants and needs and inviting others to do the same allows there to be a better understanding and clearer expectations of each other.
Smart women communicate clearly by:
- Making their needs and desires known with the intention of being better understood, and not necessarily expecting all their needs and desires to be met
- Actively listening to the other person’s wants and needs with the goal of getting to know and better understand them
- Avoiding assumptions and asking open-ended questions that invite the other person into an honest conversation
Smart women also know communication is a two-way street.
They do their part and learn to give themselves a break or excuse themselves from the conversation if the other person is not doing their part.
5) Refusing to make reasonable amends
Emotionally intelligent women know if and when it’s their responsibility to make amends.
If they feel they’ve wronged someone, they address the situation proactively.
If someone else tries to address a problem they have, an emotionally intelligent woman tries to understand the other person’s perspective and respond in a way that doesn’t escalate the situation.
They set aside their pride and can admit when they’re wrong, not just to themselves, but to whoever they’ve wronged.
This does not mean over-apologizing just to keep the peace or taking responsibility for things that are not their fault.
Instead, it means taking responsibility for what’s theirs, and making amends when they’re reasonable and called for.
6) Not engaging consciously in relationships
Emotionally intelligent women stop to examine themselves and how they engage in relationships.
They notice when they react in ways that are unwarranted by the situation.
They are aware that such ‘overreactions’ might stem from previous relationships, in which they were hurt.
Or from something as deep-rooted as their relationship with parents or other caretakers.
By examining their past hurts and striving to be more present, they work towards having more conscious relationships.
Change can be painful, but those with emotional intelligence prefer change to old patterns that keep them stuck.
7) Not working on oneself
In relationships with others, we can easily get preoccupied with what the other is doing, how they’re treating us, and everything they’re getting wrong.
Smart women know that relationships don’t just reveal the shortcomings of others.
They also reveal one’s own insecurities and hangups, making them incredible catalysts for personal growth and healing.
Those with emotional intelligence notice things they could work on within themselves.
They aren’t so absorbed with the other person’s faults that they fail to examine their own souls.
They don’t perpetually avoid relationships because of the need to ‘work on themselves.’
They take the time they need to be alone, but they also heal and work on themselves while in relationships with others.
8) Neglecting all other relationships in favor of one
It’s understandable to want to invest much of your time and energy in an exciting new relationship.
But smart women know it’s important to continue to invest in other relationships as well, whether they be with family, friends, or acquaintances who share similar interests.
It used to be the norm for human beings to live in communities where everyone helped take care of everyone’s needs.
Given the way most modern societies are structured, there is a loneliness many of us feel and a pressure for one person to come in and meet all our needs.
Smart women know this isn’t really possible.
They invest in different relationships to meet their various needs, creating healthy interdependence with others and avoiding too much pressure on any particular relationship.
They know, too, how important it is to not neglect their relationship with themselves while in relationships with others.