Relationships can be confusing — and sometimes we find ourselves tolerating behaviors and patterns that we’re not sure we should.
It’s that blurry line between compromise and settling for less.
But some people seem to effortlessly maintain fulfilling, drama-free relationships.
I’m sad to say I’m not one of them — although my rollercoaster love life has certainly taught me a lot!
But I can’t help but admire how several of my friends seem to know exactly what crosses the line, and what they can accept.
So I’ve had a chat with them about where they draw their boundaries, and I’ve come up with 6 things that emotionally intelligent people like them never tolerate in a relationship.
Listen up, because these could just save you from your next heartache.
Let’s talk about my friend Sara for a moment. She’s been in a fulfilling relationship for years, and she attributes a big part of that to open, honest communication.
Now, you might say, “Well, doesn’t everyone want honesty?” Sure, it sounds straightforward, but emotionally intelligent people like Sara never compromise on this. They value trust as the cornerstone of any relationship, romantic or otherwise.
She told me about the early days in her relationship where her partner once told a white lie about where he’d been one afternoon. Nothing scandalous, just a bit of sugar-coating.
But Sara was direct: she made it clear that even small lies could erode trust over time.
“Trust is like a paper. Once it’s crumpled, it can’t be perfect again,” she said. I have to admit, that analogy struck a chord with me. It perfectly sums up why people like Sara don’t give dishonesty a pass, no matter how minor it seems.
Sara didn’t throw a fit or make it a massive issue, but she was clear about her boundaries. She communicated openly about why honesty mattered to her and what it meant for their relationship.
In doing so, she not only resolved the issue but also fortified their relationship against future mistruths. And guess what? Her partner has been open and honest ever since.
Manipulation is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing — it often sneaks into relationships under the guise of love or concern, making it hard to spot until you’re already deep in its clutches.
My friend Jack, who’s a pro at maintaining healthy relationships, has a sixth sense for detecting manipulation. And he does not let it slide.
He once dated someone who would always play the victim whenever they had an argument, turning the tables and making him feel guilty for even bringing up an issue.
“At first, I thought maybe I was being too harsh,” he shared with me. “But then I realized this was a pattern. Every time we had a disagreement, somehow I’d end up being the one apologizing.”
This is a sign of imbalance and inequality in the relationship. But a healthy relationship is a two-way street, based on mutual respect, not a power play.
So, how did Jack handle it? He confronted his partner about it — calmly, clearly, and respectfully. He didn’t accuse or blame but stated how he felt manipulated and why it was unacceptable.
Ultimately, they parted ways because, as Jack put it, “If someone needs to manipulate you to be in a relationship with you, they’re not the right one for you.”
You know that saying, “It takes two to tango”? Well, in a relationship, it also takes two to build something meaningful and long-lasting.
But what happens when the scales are tipped, and one person’s doing all the work while the other sits back? That’s a dance destined to trip up sooner or later.
I learned this once again from Jack, who I already mentioned above. After his manipulative relationship ended, he started dating another bright young woman.
She wasn’t manipulative. But the problem here was that he was constantly trying to meet his partner’s every need while his own went ignored.
So he spoke up. “I told her, ‘I love you, but love can’t survive in an uneven field. We both have to put in the work,'” he said.
Turns out, his partner wasn’t even aware of how unequal their relationship had become. That crucial conversation was a wake-up call, and she made sure to pay more attention to it moving forward.
Don’t get me wrong — this isn’t about keeping a scorecard, or expecting something in return for every act of kindness.
But you need to both be putting in effort to your relationship, otherwise one of you will start running on empty.
4) Poor communication
We can all agree that communication is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship. And yet, it’s so often neglected.
Maybe it’s an issue left unaddressed. Or perhaps, it’s what is said — in tones that hurt, words that sting, and messages that are anything but clear.
I’ve had my share of these missteps, but when I sat down with my friend Lisa, who seems to navigate relationships like a pro, I was reminded of just how important this skill is.
“Talking well isn’t just for solving problems, it’s for preventing them in the first place,” she said, with a clarity that made me realize how many issues could have been avoided in my own relationships if only we had communicated better.
This hit me hard. Lisa’s relationships always seemed so calm, so serene. There were disagreements, sure, but they were resolved before they ever blew up into something bigger. It’s like she had a sixth sense for nipping problems in the bud.
But it’s not a sixth sense; it’s emotional intelligence. Lisa explained that she and her partner make it a point to check in with each other regularly.
They don’t let issues fester or let misunderstandings morph into resentment. If something’s wrong, they talk it out — not later, not tomorrow, but now.
5) Control issues
Now let’s talk about control, a tricky subject that often doesn’t even look like a problem at first.
Meet my friend Tina. She’s like a beacon of emotional intelligence in my life, and her love life is pretty much a masterclass in maintaining a healthy balance.
She once dated someone who started off just giving “suggestions” about everything from her hairstyle to the friends she hung out with. At first, Tina thought it was cute, a sign that he cared and was expressing himself.
“But one day it hit me: this isn’t love; this is him controlling me,” Tina said. She sat her partner down and told him, “If you love me, you have to love me as I am, not as you want me to be.”
And you know what? It was a reality check he needed. While the relationship ultimately didn’t last, it taught Tina the invaluable lesson that control has no place in love.
It may also take other forms, like jealousy, or trying to make important decisions for you. Whatever the case, control issues are a deal-breaker if you’re aiming for a healthy, balanced relationship.
6) Violation of boundaries
You’ve probably already heard of boundaries — the invisible lines we draw around ourselves to protect our peace, space, and happiness. They’re one of the most important, yet often overlooked, aspects of any relationship.
Let’s come back to Sara, the first friend I mentioned. I often joke that she must’ve written the book on boundaries because she’s so good at setting and maintaining them.
Sara taught me that boundaries aren’t just physical; they can be emotional, mental, and even digital in this age of constant connectivity.
“In the past, I dated someone who would call and text me incessantly, even when I told him I was busy with work or family,” she shared.
“He’d get upset if I didn’t respond right away. At first, I excused it as him being ‘passionate.’ But that’s not passion; it’s a violation of my personal space.”
See, emotionally intelligent people like Sara get it: Violating boundaries isn’t about love or concern; it’s about a lack of respect.
Emily had a sit-down with her partner, and she made it crystal clear. “My time and space are mine to give, not yours to take,” she told him.
Guess what? He got the message. While they had other issues and eventually decided to part ways, that direct conversation about boundaries made a lasting impression.
“He was more respectful of my time and space after that talk,” Emily said. “It didn’t save our relationship, but it saved my sanity while we were still figuring things out.”
Using emotional intelligence to improve your relationship
You’ve just learned 6 things that emotionally intelligent people never tolerate in a relationship.
Let’s face it — we all make mistakes, and each of us has probably committed one of these mistakes in a relationship at some point — even without knowing it.
So as long as you believe the relationship is worth it, the first step to take is to communicate about it.
But if things don’t improve, then take it from my friends — you’re better off going your separate ways.
It may be tough at first, but there is surely something even better waiting for you in your future.