We've all heard of IQ, but what about emotional intelligence? Just like IQ, emotional intelligence (EI) is a skill that can be developed and improved upon. It's important to be aware of your level of EI and that of your partner. Here's how to tell whether your partner has high or low emotional intelligence and what that might mean for your relationship.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware and understand both your own emotions and the emotions of others. It's about being able to regulate your emotions, respond appropriately to the emotions of others, and create positive relationships.
Simply put, people who develop high emotional intelligence are good at managing their own emotions and understanding the emotions of others. On the other hand, people with low emotional intelligence tend to have difficulty reading, managing, and responding to emotions. This can lead to problems in both personal and professional relationships.
Signs That Your Partner Has High Emotional Intelligence
If your partner has high emotional intelligence, they will likely be very in tune with their emotions and yours. They will be supportive when you're feeling down and will know when you need space. They will also be honest with you about their feelings and needs and not project their insecurities or frustrations onto you or others. If you constantly have to explain how you're feeling or what you need, it may be a sign that your partner has low EI.
People with high EI are also typically good at handling conflict. They can see both sides of every issue and find common ground even when it seems like there is none because they can detach themselves from the situation and present emotions.
If you find that you and your partner are constantly arguing or communication breakdowns are common, it may indicate that you both need to work on your EI.
Signs That Your Partner Has Low Emotional Intelligence
If your partner has low emotional intelligence, they may have difficulty understanding how you're feeling or may not seem very interested in your feelings at all. They may also regularly dismiss or invalidate your emotions. For example, if you tell them, you're feeling overwhelmed by work, and they respond by telling you that you're just being lazy.
Also, if they are always trying to "fix" your emotions rather than listen and empathize with you, for example, if you share with them that you're feeling extra anxious today because of an upcoming presentation, instead of validating your anxiety or providing reassurance, they might try to "fix" the situation by telling you not to worry or offering advice on how best to prepare for the presentation—even if you didn't ask. This can be frustrating or even condescending because it sends the message that they don't think you can manage your emotions or solve the problem yourself.
This is not to say that low EI is always with ill intent. Most of the time, we believe we are doing the "right" thing without realizing we are making problems worse. This results from simply lacking knowledge and understanding—awareness—a foundational element of EI.
Emotional Intelligence in Relationships
Having a partner with high emotional intelligence can make for a very supportive and positive relationship—but it's not a requirement. People with lower levels of EI can still be good partners; they may need some help developing their skills in this area. If communication is an issue in your relationship, consider attending couples counseling or therapy together to work on improving things between the two of you.
Regardless of your partner's emotional intelligence, remember that EI is a skill that can always be worked on—and relationships take effort from both sides. If communication breaks down or conflict often arises in your relationship, seek professional help so that you can learn new ways to communicate with each other more effectively. Additionally, turn your focus inward and see the areas within yourself that can use improvement. Often, we attract people who reflect the things within ourselves we need to work on.