In the midst of the dating world, our emphasis often falls upon “good timing”, and “finding the right person”, instead of being emotionally healthy and attracting, creating, and sustaining a successful relationship. By the time we make the decision to look for a long-term partner, it’s important for us to have evaluated as individuals, any emotional dysfunction which may possibly contribute to the demise of a relationship. As much work as we do on ourselves however, we can never guarantee how we’re going to react within a romantic relationship. Staying cognizant and committed to not letting our past control our present can be a real challenge, but it’s necessary for personal growth, and healthy relationships. Being familiar with the following guidelines will help you prepare prior to a relationship beginning, and should be referred to and followed once a relationship does start. As individuals, the most we can do is be responsible for our own emotional expressions, and realize that no one else “makes” us feel anything – only we alone control ourselves.
The Keys to Romantic Intelligence
1. Identify the difference between needing and loving. When you feel as though you cannot live without someone, you’ve perceived a deficit within yourself, and therefore you are not emotionally secure about surviving on your own. This is will inevitably lead to conflict and disease within a relationship. Another person can never fill an emptiness inside you, without you stealing something from them – this is not love.
2. Instead of immediately acting upon negative emotions, learn to identify them and figure out where they’re coming from. Most negative emotional reactions are overreactions, and result from being “triggered” by something in our past. Make sure your expression meets the reality of the situation before involving another person in it.
3. Identify what you can do to help yourself feel better, instead of putting blame or expectations upon your partner. Again, we’re responsible for how we feel, and often a simple change in perception, like seeing an opportunity to break an age-old pattern, can immediately turn a negative emotion into an positive one.
4. Identify what you can do to help your partner feel better. Is it overly important for you to have your own way and to be right all the time? This is not what love is about, this is wall-creating behavior that only promotes distance and power struggles.
5. When you make a mistake, admit it. False pride can often get in the way of healthy communication, and only creates distance and resentment. Admitting you’re wrong is a true sign of emotional intelligence, and takes a lot more courage than the childish behavior of pretending you did nothing wrong. Offer an apology to your partner. If they don’t accept your apology, you must forgive yourself and commit to trying better next time. You cannot force someone to forgive you, so there’s no sense in feeling responsible for not receiving their forgiveness.
6. Identify and enforce your boundaries. Too often, we blame others for “treating” us a certain way, when really it’s up to us to teach others how to treat us. Don’t expect your partner to read your mind – be vocal and mature about what you want from a relationship. Suggestions and communication should replace demands and ultimatums.
7. Remain open-minded, and open to change. Everything and everyone we experience is an opportunity for growth if you let it be!