Building an Emotionally Intelligent and Intimate Relationship
by Dawn Billings, founder of RelationshipHelp.com
We don’t have to choose the wrong lovers, end up in multiple failed relationships. We don't have to make the same mistakes that damage and destroy our relationships over and over again. We don't have to let the romance fade in our long-term relationships. We don’t have to resign ourselves to boredom or bickering as our only form of communication. We don't have to resent our partners different color personality tendencies. We don't have to . . . so why do we?
We have the potential to create and continue to nurture the kind of love we all dream of—intimate, kind, committed, compassionate, respectful, caring—using and emotionally intelligent skill called empathy. Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. “Unsympathetic” is a word that may be used to describe a person who lacks empathy. Someone may also use the term “insensitive". Insensitive is defined as showing or feeling no concern for others' feelings. So why would we want to be insensitive to our partner's feelings? Well there are several reasons:
We might not know the difference between a feeling and a fact. If we believe that when our partner shares a feeling, they are instead stating a fact about us; for example "You don't love me anymore." It makes us defensive and the accusation shuts us down. If we used emotional intelligence and stated our feelings like they were feelings, it might be so much easier for our partner to listen and understand what we are trying to say. For example, "I feel like you may not love me anymore." Or "I feel like you don't love me the way you used to." These are statements of feelings. They aren't stated as facts. Now your partner can hear that for whatever reason you do not feel loved the way you would like to feel loved. Now you have a chance to talk about how to understand and alleviate those feelings.
We might think feelings are bunk. There are some personalities that have no appreciation for feelings. They think that people use them to be overly dramatic, caustic and to over exaggerate a given situation. Yes, there are some personalities that are going to express themselves in more dramatic and emotional ways, but that doesn't make them wrong. It is simply a part of who they are. Emotional intelligence can help us understand personality differences and deal with them in compassionate and respectful ways. Just because someone doesn't look at the world through the same colored lenses you do, does not mean they are crazy, or inadequate in some way. We are usually attracted to people who are different than we are. Emotional intelligence allows us to see the world through the lenses of someone else so that we can better understand and relate to them.
We might be afraid that someone having negative 'feelings' means that we are inadequate or failing in some way. Negative feelings are an inevitable part of life. We will all have them at one time or another. Just because someone is having a negative feeling, doesn't mean you have failed. It might mean they are feeling inadequate at the moment and need your support.
To deal with these powerful things called feelings in a positive and effective way, we need to develop the skills of a high EQ (emotional intelligence):
For many people, falling in love serves as motivation for developing or strengthening their EQ. We want to get better at understanding and managing our emotions, as well as, understanding and better reacting to the emotions of our partner. As you strengthen you emotional intelligence you realize that different does not have to mean bad. We are originally attracted to people with different gifts, talents and perspectives that we have, but then we can spend a great deal of time attempting to get the partner we were attracted to, to change and become more like us. We can get confused and begin to believe that we think and do things the 'right' way, so that must mean our partner's do things the 'wrong' way.
Understanding our partner, how they think, how they see the world, how they feel and process information helps us to ask really important questions like, does your partner need more from you? Have you gotten past the infatuation stage and now your relationship requires the tending that all good relationship gardens require.
Below are some of the ways you can build an emotionally intelligent relationship.
View the challenges you encounter as opportunities to strengthen your bond.
Your emotional intelligence allows you to view dilemmas not as problems, but as challenging opportunities to strengthen your bond with your partner. All relationships ebb and flow. It is part of living life together. But the meaning you give to the ebb and flow and to your arguments can be either be helpful, or hurtful to your relationship.
If you believe that arguments are a sign that your relationship is in trouble, you will respond with fear, dread and avoidance. But if you allow yourself to believe that even the best relationships have bumps in the road, you are less threatened by an outburst and your expectations are that whatever the problem is, the two of you, working together can find a solutions.
High EQ, helps to liberate you from passive-aggressive reactions and resignation, and allows you to better solve the issues at hand, instead of fueling them.
Respect and Remember what is best about your partner
We’re not always delighted by our partner's attitudes and choices. That is because human beings make many of their choices out of their extreme color personality tendencies. Our strengths, gifts, talents and everything that is wonderful about us come out of our centered color personality tendencies, but everything that is frustrating, annoying, harsh, judgmental, critical and miserable about us is born out of our extreme color personality tendencies.
I don't expect you to love your partner's extreme color tendencies. Extreme color tendencies are narcissistic and unlovable. These are the outbursts, choices and behaviors that need our forgiveness and grace. But it is important to remember that our extreme color personality tendencies do not represent the most important truth of who we are. They represent instead, the worst of who we are capable of being. The challenge is to remind ourselves that our partner's extremes, are NOT the real them either. So we must challenge ourselves to remember and respect who they are as the best of themselves and not be blinded by their worst. Our love lives in our centered color personality tendencies, so we must fight to return to center when we find ourselves behaving out of our extremes.
Being in love doesn’t mean never feeling angry, disappointed, hurt, or jealous. These extreme feelings and tendencies are a natural part of every person's life. But we have to be able to recognize our extremes and have the courage to pull ourselves back to our centered color personality tendencies. We have control of whether we live the majority of our lives in our extremes, or whether we are committed to pulling ourselves back to center. The more time we spend in our centered tendencies, the stronger our relationships will be.
Laugh, and then laugh some more
When we lose our ability to laugh, we have a tendency to lose it. Recently actor Will Smith lost his sense of humor and marched up to Chris Rock and slapped the crap out of him for all the world to witness. Chris Rock is a comedian. His job is to use life's stupidity and tragedies to make people laugh. Will Smith's wife suffers from alopecia and she had her hair cut off. There is nothing funny about alopecia, but there is also nothing funny about so many tragedies that we face, but high emotional intelligence can aid us in stepping back and getting to a place where we can laugh at our overreactions to our tragedies, which can help us to better deal with them.
People who can’t laugh together, or even at themselves, are missing an extraordinary bonding experience. They may take their unique flaws and inevitable stumbles way to seriously. When you have high EQ you can allow your relationship to make you laugh, even at times when you may want to cry. Laughter can help you keep from getting trapped by intolerant expectations, that can 'should' all over your relationship.
Pay attention to your narratives about your life and love
Our narratives impact us in dramatic ways. We tell ourselves something is true and then we begin to believe it. Especially when our feelings are yelling in the back of our brains. Are you feeling restless or irritable in your relationship? What is the narrative behind your feelings. Love never benefits from a negative narrative that we keep repeating over and over.
Some narratives we write in the wind, some we write in the sand on the beach, but others, if we aren't careful we can begin to carve into stone and these narratives can impact how we think about, relate to, believe in, and treat the person we need to love and understand most in our world.
Dawn is also the author and architect of the Primary Colors Relationship Personality Tests and Insight Tools Dawn is the founder of RelationshipHelp.com and the creator of the ONLINE relationship help programs called Relationship Help At Home. Dawn is the executive director of the luxury Relationship Help Resort in Arizona, where she hosts couples therapy intensives and retreats.