Being emotionally intelligent is truly a gift.
Emotional intelligence, or the ability to understand and manage emotions, manifests equally in your actions and what you choose not to do. In a relationship, for instance, avoiding certain behaviors can ultimately be the decider of whether your union will last or not.
Do you want to take your relationship to the next level? In this article, I’ll go through ten habits that the emotionally intelligent avoid in a relationship. By being mindful of these things, you’re putting yourself and your partner in a good position. Let’s dive in!
1) They never dismiss their partner’s feelings
Emotionally intelligent people like to keep it respectful, regardless of circumstances.
Case in point: they never dismiss their partner’s feelings and thoughts. They know that dismissing or belittling their partner can lead to negative emotions like resentment or anger.
When I was younger and considerably more immature, I was dating a girl who was really into music. I remember one time she made me listen to a song by her favorite artist Lana Del Ray.
She said the lyrics moved her deeply. Instead of making an effort to validate her interests, I acted dismissively, shrugged my shoulders, and said something along the lines of “It’s alright, nothing special.”
I only realized later that was a big mistake, as I was hurting her by dismissing something she was passionate about–a behavior I’ve since corrected.
2) They never withdraw when there’s tension
When you’re emotionally intelligent, you face conflict head-on; you don’t shut down when things get tough.
You’re aware that avoidance will only make things worse. Instead of letting things get out of hand, you resolve them through gentle communication and compromise.
An ex-girlfriend of mine would stonewall me whenever we’d fight. Even when I’d try to politely reason with her, she wouldn’t have it.
She became defensive instead of talking it out in a civil manner. On occasion, she’d threaten to leave me. I think it’s safe to say her emotional intelligence could’ve used a bit more development.
3) They never play the blame game
Here’s the thing: emotionally intelligent people always take accountability in their relationships.
They don’t let their pride get in the way of resolutions. They know that in order to make their relationship work, they have to sometimes be the bigger person. Being accusatory and pointing fingers can lead to avoidable tension.
Even in a heated argument, they’re careful about placing blame on their partner–since once it’s out there, it will inflame things unnecessarily.
The emotionally intelligent person has the ability to overlook petty conflict and see the entire picture.
4) They never fail to communicate
As you know now, when something is bothering them or needs addressing emotionally intelligent people won’t just sweep it under the rug and hope for the best–they prioritize honest and respectful communication.
They know that without communication, having a successful relationship is an uphill battle; having to constantly read between the lines isn’t a sustainable model.
They don’t become passive-aggressive when they’re upset. And it rarely gets to this point anyway, since they are able to nip it in the bud before things get out of hand.
5) They never disrespect boundaries
An emotionally intelligent will always respect you as your own person. This means never crossing your boundaries.
Boundaries in a relationship are essentially limits that you and your partner lay down to gauge what is acceptable and what isn’t.
Boundaries can be emotional, sexual, or physical, and once established you and your partner will feel more comfortable and safe with each other.
My current partner has a secret Twitter account which she considers her “safe space.” When Ten years ago, I might have been tempted to break into her phone and access it.
But these days, I wouldn’t dare violate her boundaries even if I have the opportunity to do so. Regardless of any curiosity I might have, she has established her boundaries, and I try to be extra mindful of respecting them.
6) They never engage in power struggles
Fun fact: emotionally intelligent people don’t engage in power struggles with their partners.
They’re mature adults and would rather work together towards solutions rather than play unnecessary mind games.
A power struggle in a relationship occurs when one person tries to control the other by having the last word in an argument, employing ultimatums to get what they want, or refusing to compromise on issues.
The emotionally intelligent partner is aware that power struggles are a toxic practice and avoids them at all costs. They view the relationship as a union or partnership and not a competition.
7) They never make assumptions
They remain cool and collected amidst uncertainty and don’t rush to conclusions. They never panic or meltdown over something that could well be a misunderstanding.
The emotionally intelligent partner values evidence and facts over paranoia and anxiety. They seek to actively understand their partner’s perspective.
Once you realize you’re communicating openly and effectively, it’s only natural your bond will grow stronger.
Let’s say your boyfriend comes home later than usual one night. Instead of making irrational assumptions like he’s having an affair or cheating, get his side of the story first.
Maybe he has a valid reason, such as a car accident or his phone was stolen. The bottom line is that making assumptions without sufficient evidence and acting out on them can lead to resentment, hostility, and mistrust.
8) They never ignore emotional needs
One of the main reasons people enter relationships is to fulfill their emotional needs. So once you start depriving each other of that, consider it could be an indication that it’s time to let go.
If you want a healthy and happy relationship, don’t ignore your partner’s emotional needs like actively listening or showing empathy, love, and intimacy. The emotionally intelligent partner is acutely aware of this and never goes for a lengthy period ignoring emotional needs.
The last thing they want is for their other half to feel neglected or disconnected from them. They know once it reaches this point, it can often signal the beginning of the end.
9) They never disregard feedback
I’ve found that emotionally intelligent people are generally also welcoming of feedback from their partners.
Whether it’s to fix their own shortcomings or to improve the relationship, they accept constructive criticism gracefully, with an open mind and willingness to grow.
They don’t get defensive or negatively affected by feedback, as they’re also quite secure within themselves. They know that no person or relationship is perfect, and there is room for improvement every day.
10) They never neglect self-care
Last but not least is self-care. Some people tend to get caught up in life and neglect prioritizing themselves.
Emotionally intelligent people never forget about their individuality when in a relationship.
They are aware that in order to give their best self in a relationship, they need to practice self-care.
This means getting enough sleep, eating right, exercising regularly, and simply doing activities that bring you joy like spending time with your dogs in the park or bingeing on a compelling Hulu series.
When you feel good about yourself, that’s the energy you project outward, which is great news for your relationship.
How to develop emotional intelligence
We’ve established what emotionally intelligent people don’t do in relationships. So naturally, you must be wondering how to improve your own level of emotional intelligence. You can start by following these simple steps.
- Practice self-awareness: Self-awareness involves acknowledging your own emotions and how they might influence your thoughts, feelings, and interactions with the world. Do a deep dive into finding your emotional triggers and patterns of behavior. Reflect on how you can change toxic patterns.
- Practice self-regulation: Practice regulating your emotions so that you can respond to situations in a more collected and calm way. Some time-tested strategies for self-regulation include mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, and vigorous exercise.
- Develop empathy: To develop empathy, envision yourself in someone else’s shoes and really consider how they could be feeling in a given situation. Practice listening actively and absorbing their perspective.
- Start effective communication: As you might have gathered, communication is a huge deal in all relationships. Aside from active listening, you can develop your communication abilities by consciously expressing your own emotions in a clear and concise manner, making use of “I” statements to convey how you are feeling without deflecting blame to others.
Emotionally intelligent people are ahead of the game and tend to have more success than others in relationships and life in general. When you can read, communicate, and empathize with yourself and others, it’s almost like you have a superpower.
If you aren’t where you’d like to be yet, don’t worry–you already know what not to do in a relationship. So I’ll end with this: anyone can develop their emotional intelligence with just a bit of dedication and when you finally get there, you’ll be unstoppable.