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Emotional Intelligence In Relationships: Why You Need A Partner With A High EQ

9 Mins read

When it comes to relationships, we all have our wish list and dealbreakers, but emotional intelligence in relationships is key. Both partners should work on actively practising their emotional intelligence (EQ) for the greatest chance of the relationship working out. 

It’s common for us to have a ‘checklist’ of what we look for in a significant other. Emotional intelligence is often missing on this list, but Emotional Intelligence is so important, it should be on everyone’s list. 

While it’s great to have an intelligent partner with a high IQ, dating someone with a high EQ is even more important. A 2001 research study entitled Emotional Intelligence and Interpersonal Relationsled by Dr Nicola Schutte and her research team concluded with some interesting findings. The study found that higher marital satisfaction was found in couples where partners described each other as emotionally intelligent. It was clear that emotional intelligence in relationships is crucial.

Emotional intelligence is twofold. It is both being aware of your own emotions (noticing what they are and knowing how to manage them) as well as being aware of the emotions of others (empathetic). Someone who is emotionally intelligent would be said to have a high ‘emotional quotient’ or EQ. 

If you desire a happy and long-lasting relationship, there is no doubt that finding a partner with high emotional intelligence will help you achieve your relationship goals. No relationship is perfect, but when you and your partner both have a high EQ, you can better manage the ups and downs together. You’ll resolve conflicts together better, and communicate better.

What Exactly is Emotional Intelligence?

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The theory of emotional intelligence was developed in the 1990s by psychologists Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer. Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and name your feelings, and the ability to manage and regulate them. This helps you identify the feelings of others, as well.

Some people aren’t aware of what they are feeling. They feel blank, numb or “fine”, but can’t find more precise vocabulary or labels to explain and clarify their emotions. EQ includes having the emotional vocabulary to name a wide range of feelings. 

Emotional intelligence also means being able to use your emotions appropriately in daily life and to apply emotions constructively.

Using your emotions constructively includes channelling anger into passion, fear into preparation, or sadness into reflection. It’s about being able to acknowledge and respect your feelings without being overpowered by them. EQ is being able to use emotions to enhance your problem-solving skills, rather than having emotions cloud your judgment or get in the way of your thinking. Emotionally intelligent individuals can be equally intellectually intelligent. They use their rational mind in conjunction with their feelings to make wise decisions that are neither purely emotional nor just coldly intellectual. 

Emotional Intelligence in Relationships: How To Tell if Your Partner Has a High EQ

One of the biggest indicators that your partner has high emotional intelligence is reflected in their communication skills. If they’re active listeners who care about your feelings, empathize, listen and understand, they’ve likely got a high EQ. Another sign is if they intuitively can sense when you’re feeling a certain way. Below are some more signs your partner has a high EQ:

  • Your partner can name specific emotions when you ask them, “How do you feel?”
  • They can stay calm during disagreements without letting their emotions overpower them
  • He or she knows their own triggers and how to soothe themselves when upset
  • They have clear boundaries
  • Your partner has good social skills and strong relationships with friends and family
  • They can “read the room” and interpret social cues from others

Why Are These Traits Important in Relationships?

Because emotional intelligence in relationships is so crucial, we’re going to discuss various reasons why you should look for a partner with a high EQ. It’s not always easy to find a partner with emotional intelligence, because this quality is learned and not natural for everyone. However, emotionally intelligent people are out there. Below are some benefits of dating a partner who is emotionally intelligent:

1. They’re Mentally Healthier and Often More Successful

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If your partner has a high EQ, they are probably more personally and professionally successful than the average person. Their mental health is likely pretty good, too. Those who are emotionally intelligent are able to manage their feelings in healthy ways. They can catch negative emotions arising early before they get out of hand. They know how to take care of themselves when they experience difficult emotions. People with low EQ are more likely to rely on harmful behaviours and addictions to try to cope, soothe, and escape from hard feelings. 

Those with high EQ  are more likely to use healthy coping mechanisms to self-soothe. You want a partner who can take care of themselves and have healthy habits. What you need is someone who can manage their stress and not take it out harshly on themselves or you. 

People with a high EQ also tend to be more successful in business. They can use their social skills to develop positive relationships with colleagues, problem solve and build trust. They are less impulsive and have a better filter on their thoughts and actions. Their EQ makes them excellent leaders and team players. When you date someone with a high EQ you can expect them to be thriving in their career, and this confidence and success will enhance your relationship.

2. They’ll Know and Love Themselves Better

Without emotional intelligence, we can’t understand ourselves at a deep level. One can be intellectually intelligent, but without EQ they are out of touch with essential aspects of themselves and the human experience. 

People with low EQ can’t understand why they get upset or triggered or how to help themselves feel better. Those with lower EQ tend to overreact instead of self-regulating. They may struggle with self-esteem as they are frustrated with not being able to meet their goals or manage their emotions. They may not know where they are going in life, what is important to them, or what they are looking for in a relationship. 

Those with emotional intelligence can identify what they are feeling and can better analyze what caused them to feel that way. They get to know themselves at a deeper level and have more self-compassion. This allows them to treat themselves with respect and develop healthy self-esteem. They are honest with themselves and know who they are and what they want – including what they want in a relationship.

3. They’ll Know and Love You Better 

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Not only can your partner know themselves more deeply if they have a high EQ, but they will also be capable of knowing you at a deeper level. Strong relationships are built on honesty and vulnerability. Emotionally intelligent partners are able to read your emotions, empathize with your situation, and they have the willingness and capacity to seek to understand all of you – good and bad. 

People with emotional intelligence can read emotional cues in others. They can pick up on your subtle signals to infer what you might be feeling. They can take your feelings into account when they are making decisions. You don’t want a partner who is aware of your emotions but out of touch with their own, as they won’t know what they want or how to regulate themselves. You also don’t want a partner who is so focused on their feelings that they are oblivious to yours. Someone with a high EQ has the ability to do both.

Many of us have had the frustration of people in our lives who when we ask, “how are you feeling?” will answer only with, “fine”, “good”, “okay”, or “I don’t know”. While that may suffice with an acquaintance, it is hard to develop depth of a relationship when we can’t get specific information from our partner about what is going on in their heart and mind. A partner with emotional intelligence will be able to identify and name their emotions with more clarity, allowing you to understand them and the two of you to grow closer. 

4. You’ll Fight Better: Arguments Will Be Healthier and More Constructive

If your partner has a high EQ, you will fight better. Most people argue with their partner from time to time. Not necessarily heat, but you will have times where you strongly disagree about an important issue or times where you hurt each other intentionally or unintentionally and have a falling out. If your partner has a low EQ, they won’t be able to empathize as deeply with your experience. He or she will have difficulty understanding your perspective and may place more blame on you. They may lack the emotional intelligence to be conscious of their part of the problem. Perhaps they can’t observe, name, and manage their emotions well – which leads to lashing out at you or being distant.

On the other hand, in a relationship where partners have high EQs they can identify problems earlier as they arise. He or she will pick up on emotional signals from you that you are upset and can intervene before things get worse. They can reflect on their part of the argument and own their role. They can and will strive to understand how you are feeling. With emotional intelligence one can pause before responding, rather than reacting impulsively. Their capacity to repair and forgive is enhanced by their emotional intelligence. Communication will be more direct, honest, and respectful with a partner with high EQ. 

5. They’ll Have Healthy Boundaries and Respect Yours

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Boundaries are critical for any relationship, and especially for a romantic relationship. We need to be able to define what we are and are not comfortable with. People with poor boundaries will find themselves angry at their partners but will not be able to explain why. They will not know where to assert themselves to prevent boundary crossing from occurring again. Not knowing your boundaries or not being able to enforce them leads to resentment. This can build over time, ultimately turning into a majorly heated fight. 

Emotional intelligence is essential in building and maintaining boundaries. A partner with high EQ can notice their feelings to identify what bothers or triggers them. They can label where their boundaries are and why, and they can explain and enforce them in a way that is clear, kind, and firm. They will also be better able to understand and respect your boundaries. 

6. You Can Co-Regulate

People who are emotionally intelligent are also better able to self-regulate their emotions and help their partner to regulate their emotions.

Self-regulation is how we respond to changes including strong emotions. For example, how do you act when you’re anxious or stressed? How do you act when you’re afraid?

Good or healthy self-regulation is being able to soothe ourselves, calm ourselves, or cheer ourselves up. Those who lack the ability to self-regulate will be overpowered by their emotions, feel out of control or dysregulated, and use unhealthy and destructive ways of trying to cope with their feelings.

Co-regulation is when people help each other to respond to change and emotions. If one partner is dysregulated, their partner could provide calm empathy and support them to reach regulation. We want our partners to be able to soothe us in the times that we are unable to do so ourselves. Emotional intelligence in relationships facilitates co-regulation.

If our partner has a low EQ, they will be frequently dysregulated and they may not be able to be there for us when we are dysregulated. They may respond to our dysregulation by becoming even more sad, angry, or anxious than we are. On the other hand, a partner with a high EQ will be self-regulated most of the time and be able to provide a secure base for us to connect to bring ourselves into regulation. They can recognize how we are feeling without being swept into the storm of our dysregulation, and can instead help carry us back toward the calm shore.

7. You’ll Grow Together

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Relationships are meant to be dynamic. You want to grow and evolve as a person, and you need your partner to grow and evolve within themselves, too. This is a key component of emotional intelligence in relationships. You need yourselves and the relationship itself to change and expand. You must both believe in growth.

The emotionally intelligent partner is always seeking to discover where they can improve themselves. They are aware of their flaws and their attributes, and in touch with their priorities and values. They can identify what parts of themselves and their lives they want to change and have the skillset to do what it takes to make these changes.

A partner with high EQ will also be more supportive of your evolution. They won’t be threatened by the changes that you are striving to make. They will be able to adapt to meet you where you are at, and they will be open-minded to the transformation of your relationship to fit with where you want to grow. 

Look For Signs of Emotional Intelligence

When you look for a partner, pay attention to the signs of emotional intelligence. Work on improving your EQ together, as emotional intelligence in relationships is crucial. A CircleDNA test can help you get more insight into you and your partner’s EQ, in terms of whether you’re genetically likely to have higher or lower EQ. This is a crucial component of any relationship. In finding a partner with emotional intelligence, you’ll appreciate their ability to know and share themselves with you. This will lead to a more intimate relationship where you can both communicate well, have clear boundaries, grow as individuals, and grow as a couple. 

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About author
Erica majored in Psychology at UBC and has since followed her passion for writing and journalism, with a focus on health and travel writing.
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