7 things emotionally intelligent people do differently in relationships

What’s a good predictor of happiness and success in relationships (and in life)?

It’s emotional intelligence or EQ — the capacity to recognize and manage one’s emotions, as well as the emotions of others.

If you want to find out how ‘emotional skills’ can help you build happy, healthy, and thriving relationships, you’ve come to the right place!

But first, why does emotional intelligence matter in relationships?

Emotions are a large part of who you are. How you feel impacts not only your day-to-day interactions with others but also your overall health and well-being.

Simply put: Emotional intelligence affects almost everything you do and say.

Many studies show that when it comes to romantic relationships, partners with high EQ tend to develop deep, fulfilling, and long-lasting bonds.

The thing is, no relationship is perfect. Partners will inevitably ‘trigger’ each other — make each other feel sad, disappointed, angry, frustrated, and all kinds of emotions — at any given time.

The question is, how do partners deal with their emotions? Do they manage the ups and downs together?

Do they make each other feel safe enough to remain present to each other and work through deep emotions?

The good news is that anybody can increase their emotional intelligence. If you want to find out if you and your partner have high EQs, read on!

Let’s explore some of the top things emotionally intelligent people do differently in relationships.

1) Their first response is to understand and empathize with their partner

Empathy is a cornerstone of healthy relationships, and it’s one of the first things that come to mind when we think of emotional intelligence.

It’s not just about feeling your partner’s pain, it’s also about understanding their viewpoints, challenges, and frustrations.

You see, emotionally intelligent people dig deeper so they can realize why their partner is acting the way they do.

They’re the type of partners who will ask questions, take on the other person’s emotions, and make their partners feel their presence and support no matter what.

Here’s a simple truth: We all want to be understood. 

That’s why emotionally intelligent people make the best partners — they make it a point to show empathy — to be kind — even when they’re frustrated with their partners. 

This isn’t always easy. More often than not, your partner will have beliefs and emotions that you don’t agree with.

Emotionally intelligent people, however, believe that all emotions matter. They create a safe space for their partners to express all of their emotions — good and bad.

In other words: They validate their partner’s feelings and respect them even when they don’t feel the same way. 

2) They practice self-awareness

Think about this for a minute: Do you …

  • Observe your thoughts and feelings as they happen
  • Know your strengths, weaknesses, and limitations
  • Feel comfortable talking about your emotions and explaining why you feel the way you feel

If you said yes, then you’re most likely an emotionally intelligent and self-aware person.

Here’s the deal: Self-awareness is crucial in relationships because if you can’t identify your own emotions, it’s very unlikely that you can identify them in someone else.

Emotionally intelligent people spend time understanding themselves — who they are, what they do well, what motivates and satisfies them, and the people and situations that push their buttons. 

They know how their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can affect their partners.

And it doesn’t stop there: They can communicate and vividly describe what’s going on inside. 

People with a high EQ are not afraid to be vulnerable. When they’re going through a rough time, they can share and open themselves up to their partners.

This makes problem-solving much easier in relationships because both parties are in touch with their emotional sides.

And this brings me to my next point…

3) They argue with their partners in a healthy way

falling out of love after infidelity 7 things emotionally intelligent people do differently in relationships

Picture this: Another day, another argument with your partner. You and your partner are stuck in a never-ending cycle of attack and defend.

Both of you are desperately expressing yourselves, but no one feels heard or understood.

Ah, conflict. 

It’s a normal, even healthy, part of any relationship. The problem happens when these conflicts become emotionally distressing.

Here’s where emotionally intelligent people make a difference: They fight fair.

What does that mean?

It means they have the right attitude and skills to navigate conflicts with their partners in a healthy, positive way.

They see conflicts as opportunities for them and their partners to grow closer together. 

Ok, I know what you’re thinking: So, how do they do it?

Let’s explore some of the ways emotionally intelligent people address conflicts in relationships:

  • They actively listen. They won’t interrupt their partners while they’re speaking. They’re willing to sit down and understand where their partner is coming from.
  • They stay calm. They steer clear of criticism, confrontation, and hostility.
  • They forgive and repair. They can pick up on emotional signals from their partners and intervene before the conflict gets worse. These repair attempts can be a simple apology, a gentle touch, or a hug. 

4) They take responsibility for their actions

This one’s connected to my earlier point about managing conflicts effectively.

You see, emotionally intelligent people value accountability. They’re accountable for their actions, emotions, and decisions, and accept the consequences that come with them. 

They can reflect on their part of the argument, own their role, and accept when they’re wrong. 

But this is easier said than done. It’s tempting to blame your partner when you feel disappointed, angry, or stressed out about the relationship.

You tend to lash out verbally when you’re partner starts to criticize you.

And it gets worse: You put your partner on the defensive by telling them they have to change for the relationship to improve.

Here’s the deal: People with a high EQ will not try to prove their partner wrong. 

They believe that they can’t change what their partners say and do, but they have full control over how they respond to it.

They’re open to working on their flaws and seeking the best in their partners. 

When partners in a relationship take responsibility for their actions, they feel appreciated, not chastised. 

5) They set healthy boundaries

This goes back to my earlier point about self-awareness. When you know yourself well, you can identify your limits.

Emotionally intelligent people believe that establishing healthy boundaries helps them be kinder to themselves and build stronger relationships with their partners.

They know the thoughts, feelings, and actions that bother or trigger them — the things that they can no longer put up with.

And the best part? They can communicate their boundaries and enforce them in a way that is clear, kind, and firm.

For example, you’ve noticed many times that the way your partner speaks to you when you commit a mistake makes you feel sad and disappointed.

When you’re emotionally intelligent, you can tell your partner: “It really upsets me when you yell at me for doing something wrong. If you’re unhappy with something I did, please tell me more kindly.” 

And it works both ways: People with a high EQ not only set their limits but also understand and respect their partner’s boundaries

6) They maintain an open mind and heart

Emotionally intelligent people understand that relationships are dynamic.

That’s why they’re always willing to grow. They intentionally put in the time and effort it takes to make the relationship better.

They’re always seeking ways to improve themselves. They’re very much open to new ideas and perspectives and are always excited to learn from their partners. 

They work with their partners in identifying the parts that they need to change and they are committed to achieving their goals.

Sometimes, this may involve challenging themselves and their partners to get out of their comfort zones and experience new adventures. 

More importantly, they support their partner’s desire to grow and evolve. They won’t stop their partners from having dreams and goals of their own. 

7) They love themselves (and their partners) better

emotionally intelligent people do in relationships 7 things emotionally intelligent people do differently in relationships

Have you ever wondered how emotionally intelligent people become masters at managing emotions?

That’s because they treat themselves with the same respect and kindness as they would a loved one.

They practice self-compassion by being honest with themselves. 

They take the time to know themselves on a deeper level to figure out who they are and what they want – including what they want in a relationship.

Emotionally intelligent partners feel deeply, but they don’t let their emotions get the best of them.

They avoid any actions and behaviors that would escalate conflicts. They handle their emotions in a way that aligns with their best selves and their goals.

At the end of the day, they would strive to maintain a healthy and respectful relationship that prioritizes both partners’ wants and needs.

Final thoughts

While some people naturally have a higher EQ, it’s something that anyone can learn and practice. 

Partners can work together to improve their emotional intelligence skills, which can lead to a happier, stronger, and more fulfilling relationship.


Picture of Maria Fatima Reyes

Maria Fatima Reyes

Fat Niebres is a freelance writer who loves to chase stories that matter. She finds meaning and inspiration in the mundane. When she's not writing, she's probably reading, eating, traveling, or having deep conversations with her husband. She brings her experience in broadcast, print, and NGO communications, and has been published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Inquirer.net.

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