Why Emotional Maturity and Emotional Intelligence Are Important for Healthy Relationships

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Emotional maturity and emotional intelligence are key factors in maintaining healthy relationships—romantic or otherwise. Many people are lacking in these areas, which leads to a breakdown in communication and, ultimately, complications in or even the breakup of relationships. There is no way to navigate relationship politics without these skill sets, yet most people don’t even know what they are or understand how they work—both separately and in tandem.

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Emotional maturity is the ability to handle situations without unnecessarily escalating them. Instead of seeking to blame someone else for their problems or behavior, emotionally mature people seek to fix the problem or behavior. They accept accountability for their actions.

Emotionally mature people don’t lie in uncomfortable situations. Rather, they face the reality of them head-on. In a disagreement, they don’t resort to personal attacks; they address the issue being discussed. They are not impulsive and they don’t speak recklessly. They make sure they are calm and think before they speak.

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They aren’t bullies or narcissists. They respect boundaries. They don’t rely on the immature defense mechanism of deflection.

In short, they aren’t childish.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions as well as the emotions of others. You can identify an emotion and respond to it rather than react, which is another critical skill.

Emotionally intelligent people are in touch with their emotions and able to articulate them. They don’t deny them, and they don’t try to mask them as something else. They harness them and apply them as necessary when it comes to thinking or problem solving—especially in relationships.

Not too long ago, I spoke about a pattern of behavior I recognized in someone I was dealing with. I spoke about it honestly and did not attack him. I pointed out the behavior, and I explained how he could have handled the situation better.

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He, in turn, launched into a personal attack against me. He considered what I said an attack, even though I had done nothing but point out a behavior pattern. He acknowledged that what I had said was true, but because he felt convicted by it and his feelings were hurt, his first response was to “attack” me back.

When I asked him why he thought this was a productive behavior, he told me that it didn’t matter to him that what I had said was true—it mattered more to him that his feelings were hurt, and in his opinion, no one gets to “talk spicy” for free.

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I pointed out that this way of thinking was dangerous, unproductive and unhealthy. This seemed to bother him even more. He disagreed with me and told me that this was just how he was and there were some things about himself that he was unwilling to change.

In this example, he lacked both emotional maturity and emotional intelligence.

He did not have the emotional maturity to handle what I said without attacking me or calling me names. He did not have the emotional intelligence to take his emotions into account and articulate them properly. He could only react to what I said, not respond.

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When you find yourself in a disagreement with another person, it is natural to feel some sort of emotional response—particularly a negative one. There is nothing wrong with having that emotional response, but what you do with it afterward makes all the difference in the world.

Think about the response you are having. Is it sadness? Is it anger? Then focus on what could be causing that response. Was what the other person said true? Was it an attack? Was it incorrect?

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From there, work on articulating what you are feeling in a calm and rational way. Instead of “attacking” back, think about telling the other person how you are feeling. “Your saying that makes me angry because … ” or “I don’t agree with what you are saying because … ” are good places to start. Don’t just express the emotion; acknowledge why the emotion is there.

You aren’t always going to get it right, but beginning to approach these situations in a mature and intelligent manner is where the learning starts, and everything else is growth from there.

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Emotional maturity and emotional intelligence work hand in hand. You need emotional intelligence to recognize what you are feeling, and you need emotional maturity not to act out because you are feeling some type of way. They work in tandem in relationships.

In order to find a partner who has both emotional intelligence and emotional maturity, you need to make sure you have those skills first. You won’t be able to recognize and acknowledge in others what you lack yourself. Work to make sure that you are emotionally mature and emotionally intelligent. That is the first step.

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Emotionally intelligent and emotionally mature people are able to create healthy and lasting relationships. They are also able to easily separate themselves from relationships with people who lack those qualities. Once you have emotional intelligence and maturity, it becomes harder to tolerate those who don’t. It is as if having those qualities becomes a sort of defense shield against those who lack them. You won’t be able to and won’t want to let them into your space. Their energy is draining.

Keep in mind that emotional intelligence and emotional maturity are a constant, conscious practice. We won’t all get it right 100 percent of the time. Developing the intelligence to see where we are falling short and the maturity to handle it accordingly is the true sign of growth.

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And in the end, that is what it is all about.

News Editor for The Root. I said what I said. Period.

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DISCUSSION

lookitaburner
lookitaburner

This hits hard tonight.

The husband fucked up last night. Unambiguously, and completely. He knew that what he was doing was wrong - because we’d talked about it before - he knew it would hurt me, he knew he would let me down, and he did it anyway.

Now even though he fucked up bad, this wouldn’t normally be a marriage-ending event but tonight I am questioning. Not because of what he did, but because of the lack of emotional intelligence and maturity he’s shown in the aftermath. Over 24 hours later he has yet to acknowledge that he messed up or that he hurt me, or that he left me holding the bag. He has spent the whole day avoiding me, has said less than 10 words to me total, and is now hiding in the bedroom.

If this is going to be resolved, I’m going to have to be the one to fix it because he has never once, on the course of our relationship taken the first step when things went wrong. When he fucked up similarly a few months ago I waited to see how long it would take him to say something, ANYTHING. I made if 5 tense, miserable days before I broke. Even though he’s the one who hurt me, I’m going to have to be the one to pick myself up, tend my wounds, find my reasonable voice, be sure I don’t cry (because he can’t handle tears), and then listen as he talks about how bad he feels and what a piece of garbage he is.

I am tired ya’ll. It’s been a hard year and I feel like I’m barely coping with what’s going on in the world, and raising my child, trying to take care of the shit I’m legitimately responsible for, and trying to work on my own legion of flaws. The thought of doing his emotional dirty laundry, again, and putting my own feelings aside, again, on top of all of that just exhausts me. And while I, probably, will take some deep breaths and script out what I’m going to say and try to move us past this (tomorrow, it’s now too late to start this shit tonight). I don’t know how many more of these bridges I have left in me before raising the kiddo on my own starts to look like less work.