In Self-Development

Being in a relationship is an emotional, mental, and physical investment in yourself and in your partner. I also strongly believe it is the best way to test, re-test, and grow your emotional intelligence and here is why.

A relationship is a two-way street and a balancing act of give-and-take. In the beginning of the relationship, the need for human connection and a cocktail of neurotransmitters make us much more willing and open to listening and giving.  But as the relationship progresses, we start keeping track of how much we give and how much we take. …and that could apply to everything: money, listening, cleaning the home, sex, parenting, time with friends, time with the in-laws…it’s all a balancing act.

This give & take meter is often dependent on how it generally feels to be in that relationship at that particular moment in time. That’s why we have great days, ok days, and crappy days.

It depends on the inexplicable and powerful feeling of connection when we are on the same page and function as one. Conversely, it depends on the amount of tears, frustration, and overwhelming anger that we experience when we are in a fight and our ego plays defense.

Think of mundane things such as:

I multitask and do 30 things in a day for this family, he/she does 3.

I make the money and he/she just spends it without any regard for how hard it is to make it.

I do all the homework, the school activities, the doctors’ appointments with the kids, he/she just comes home and barely does anything with them.

I practice self-care and try to look good, he/she ballooned 40 pounds and couldn’t care less how that affects my attraction level.

I am honest and tell him/her what’s on my mind, but he/she never opens up or feels like talking about important stuff in the relationship.

I want to be intimate, but he/she has no interest and does not care about how it affects my needs.

I’ve been listening to the same boring stories for the last 10 years, but he/she has no interest in giving me time to share my thoughts, feelings, or even daily stories.

Does any of this ring a bell?

They happen to all relationships, but they happen a lot more to some than others.  

Nowadays, we process a lot of content in a relationship, thus a relationship has become a catch-all for all of our emotions, thoughts, wishes, and needs.

The dynamic of a modern relationship has evolved a lot in the last 50 year. Today, we put a lot more pressure on our one and only to be our best partner, financial contributor, parent, best friend, sexual partner, and the “man or woman of our dreams” for the next 40 years.

It truly is a lot of pressure on ourselves, on our partners, and on the relationship.

Mental compatibility and physical chemistry do contribute a lot to the success of the relationship, but truly the longevity and the level of satisfaction depend a lot on the following: attachment style, level of emotional intelligence, problem-solving skills, communication skills, and level of commitment.

If you’ve been following my blog posts and my books, you know I am a big fan of attachment styles. Secure styles are ideal in relationships. Insecure styles such as avoidant-dismissive and anxious-preoccupied are usually problematic. If you want to learn more about each one of them, definitely check out the posts below:

5 FACTS TO HELP YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR EMOTIONALLY INSECURE PARTNER

ARE YOU AN EMOTIONALLY UNAVAILABLE PARTNER? OR IN A RELATIONSHIP WITH ONE?

Both of these styles often come with difficulties managing our own emotions as well as tolerating and managing other people’s feelings.

How about EI? Emotional Intelligence

As I was diving into these attachment styles and identified myself as a recovering avoidant-dismissive, the concept of emotional intelligence kept popping up on my research radar, to the point where I believe that it’s becoming my answer to many, many things in life, not just those relationship related.

This concept has been slowly developing for a few decades now, and it’s finally claiming a prime spot in modern psychology. Defined as “the capability to recognize our own emotions and those of others, to differentiate between dissimilar feelings and label them appropriately, to use this information to guide thinking and behavior, and to manage emotions to adapt to home or workplace or achieve one’s goal,” emotional intelligence is something that everyone can benefit from and consistently improve on.

I got to appreciate the power of emotional intelligence only after I became a mother and I realized that good parenting also involves emotional coaching. My childhood was highly deficient in emotional teachings and as an adult, I started to realize the consequences as I was a dismissive and detached partner, incapable of managing my own emotions during stressful and anxious times, a severely impatient friend and employee, and ultimately an impatient mother. This last one was eye-opening for me as it made it obvious that I was going to repeat generational mistakes. I wasn’t willing to let that happen.

My kids provided me with the motivation to change; my degree in psychology provided me with the knowledge, and my husband provided a stable environment to practice my new skills (by a lot of trial and error). After 12 years of practice and travel on this journey, I am proud to say that I’ve embraced this type of work, although difficult and challenging and never-ending.

But I am proud of the progress I’ve made as a mother and of course, as a therapist. I am passionate about this topic and about helping others see the benefits. That’s why I created a 5-day FREE email course to get others started on this journey. For more information and to sign up for the From Emotionally Challenged To Emotionally Savvy, check out this link.

In addition, if you are more of a visual person, I am having fun and experimenting with a new format for this course. I picked the best nuggets of insight from my course and I am spreading it over 30 days of pins (like this sample pin in this post).  Follow me on Pinterest for the visual 30 Days To Emotional Intelligence that will start January 1st and check out all the other posts on my board, Emotional Intelligence Is Today’s Superpower!

 

And if you are not ready for either, I hope you can take a few minutes and comment below on what your experience has been with emotional intelligence. How would you rate your emotional coaching growing up and how do you think it has affected you as an adult today, in a relationship or at work?

           

ABOUT: Dr. Ruxandra LeMay is a licensed psychologist with experience and interest in communication, relationships, stress and anxiety management, executive coaching and entrepreneurship. She is the author of My Spouse Wants More Sex Than Me: The 2-Minute Solution For a Happier Marriage and My Spouse is Different Than Me: How to Mediate Irreconcilable Differences and Grow in Your Marriage. For more information, join her at ruxandralemay.com, a website for people who hate therapy, but still need it!

 

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Showing 12 comments
  • Courtney
    Reply

    What a great read and some awesome tips. I strongly believe in the emotional bank account! If there are no deposits, there’s no balance for withdrawals.

    • Ruxandra LeMay
      Reply

      Thank you, Courtney! Yes, that’s one of my favorite metaphors.

  • Danie
    Reply

    I hate to say how many relationships I know of that have failed because the emotional maturity and willingness to progress on that front was lacking. I loved the points you made about pressures we put on our relationships with negative thinking. Positive thinking and communication will take us all far. I hope that my next relationship has a healthy dose of these qualities.

    • Ruxandra LeMay
      Reply

      Yes, you are so right, Danie. It is our relationships that test our maturity the most. But we can also use the right relationship as a safe, holding place to improve our emotional intelligence skills.

  • Heather LeGuilloux
    Reply

    A very thought-provoking article, and when I think of my own emotional intelligence, I feel that I was brought up in an emotionally stable household which I think helped me to grow into the empathetic person that I have become in my personal and professional life. I also believe that empathy and emotional intelligence can be fostered at any stage of life. Thanks for the read!

    • Ruxandra LeMay
      Reply

      You are so right, Heather and definitely, consider yourself lucky. While we can work on this all throughout our lives, it’s definitely a lot easier when you’ve had good role models and a solid foundation.

  • Nicole
    Reply

    This article gives me a lot to think about in my relationships. I don’t know how many times I’ve been in a situation or looked back on a situation and thought that I wasn’t ‘adult’ enough to deal with it. I guess that would speak to my emotional intelligence. Thanks for sharing.

    • Ruxandra LeMay
      Reply

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Nicole. The good news is that we can all improve our EI; it’s like a muscle, we just need to exercise it regularly.

  • Karen Kohn
    Reply

    Great article. I love learning more about EI. So helpful. Saved your PIN to one of my boards as our themes relate nicely. All my best!

    • Ruxandra LeMay
      Reply

      Thank you very much, Karen. I’ll check out your boards as well.

  • Kelly
    Reply

    EMPATHY! The WORD OF THE YEAR! So many people lack this and our world would be SUCH a better place if this wasn’t the case! Great read, Ruxandra!

    • Ruxandra LeMay
      Reply

      Thank you, Kelly. We don’t talk enough about this because it’s seen as a sign of weakness instead of strength and intelligence.

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