Requirements for a Healthy Relationship: The 4 Qualities You Need
Aug 5, 2018 | By: Melissa Hudson, LMFT
Emotional Intelligence is required to be a suitable mate: it is a bare bones essential. Fundamentally, it’s one’s basic humanness, the ability to relate and interact with others in a healthy way, human decency. The four elements of EQ that must be present in intimate relationships:
1. Insight- the ability to consider and evaluate many points of view, even those not in one’s interest. The ability to apply new thinking and understanding.
2. Empathy- the ability to imagine and feel another person’s emotional state. Having empathy would shape behavior and choices. This is a developmental task that healthy adults (and children) have as part of their moral development.
3. The ability to maintain healthy, long-term, intimate relationships
4. The ability to resolve conflicts in a productive, healthy manner
Without these four, basic traits, a relationship with someone will be difficult, marked with dissatisfaction and likely unfulfilling or unsustainable.
People can be successful at work and have chaotic home lives...
Maybe you’re thinking, but he/she has a great job, has friends at work, is a productive member of society, goes to church, etc. And while that may be true, the data point is one-dimensional. It is our interpersonal relationships (family of origin and intimate) that challenge us most; this is where we are most vulnerable. Work relationships have power dynamics that do not exist in personal relationships. In other words, people can be successful at work and have chaotic home lives replete with pathology, addiction, abuse, emptiness, or symptomatic children (oh yes, children can take on the anxiety of the family system). At work, people have “company behavior”, they may supervise others, for example. In which case, ordering people around may be entirely acceptable. In fact, there is much in the clinical literature about corporate narcissism and sociopathy. These two personality disorders, in particular, known for charm, intelligence, deception and a lack of empathy may thrive in the cutthroat corporate culture, but such qualities are hardly the ingredients of healthy, loving relationships.
Here are a few questions to consider that indicate one's level of emotionally maturity:
Is your love interest a pervasive blamer, a ready victim, a frequent excuse maker? This way of thinking is usually the sign of a lack of insight.
Does the object of your affection see things in rigid or black and white terms?
Can your sweetie manage his/her anxiety or is he quick to anger, quick to distance, or generally reactionary?
And what about conflict? How is that handled?
Is communication open and encouraged?
Is control an aspect of the relationship?
Does he/she allow you into his/her world? On the other hand, is it his/her world and you are privileged to live in it?
Are you minimized?
Do you feel valued and validated? If not, this reflects a lack of empathy.
Do you find yourself trying to close the gap with the other person not meeting you half way? Your patience is not valued or even acknowledged—again a lack of insight and empathy.
Are the words lovely but the actions unimpressive? Well, you may be a higher functioning person.
Will they care about what matters to you? Will they partner? Are they kind and generous of spirit?
So what can you do about it? The sad truth is not much. This person has to grow as a human, and that’s difficult work, likely requiring professional help. But more than that, real change requires a huge dose of honesty about shortcomings and history, which is an arduous, often painful, and long-term endeavor, in most cases. Therapy is successful only as much as the client is forthright about behaviors, cognitions, and feelings. That takes insight…but insight is lacking…herein lies one of the challenges.
And it’s not to say that someone with lower EQ is not charismatic, charming, captivating, intelligent, magnetic, humorous, sensitive, sexy, talented, a wordsmith, and even lovable…They are often these things in spades. Frequently these are qualities and coping skills to overcompensate for what is lacking and/or a form of protection they no longer need, often developed to protect them as a child: you can bet there was abuse or neglect in this person’s childhood, most likely in the family of origin or a foundational relationship.
Nonetheless, will she/he be there when you need her/him? Will they care about what matters to you? Will they partner? Are they kind and generous of spirit? Do they value you? Want to spend time with you? Do they even SEE you? Are they emotionally and physically healthy (physical health will decline with chronic anxiety and/or mental health issues)? Are they capable of giving or only taking? Do you matter? Can they ever be trusted?
Sometimes when we are incompatible with people, it is really an indication that we are healthier emotionally...
Sometimes when we are incompatible with people, it is really an indication that we are healthier emotionally and spirituality…Not better, just further along in the journey of developing more basic self. Maybe you are one of the blessed who was born into a healthier family of origin that nurtured you, supported you, validated you, modeled relational skills, so you started ahead…Who knows. Or maybe you suffered greatly, then you walked through the pain of self-discovery and self-growth with a competent professional or down the road of hard knocks. It’s not a contest; it’s about growing as people and finding one person who will commit to growing with you: not hiding, blaming, sublimating, shirking, charming…
Relationships are people growing machines, to quote my mentor Dr. Glen Jennings. That is their purpose; that is the “work” of committed relationships. People ponder why we are here…I believe it’s simple, to love each other, to grow in basic self through our intimate relationships—to self actualize until the day we die. It’s secular; it’s spiritual. We can’t do it with someone who is not ready and able.
Sometimes the best we can do for ourselves is to take the lesson (and I believe there is always a lesson, often several), wish her/him well, grieve the relationship, and move along. All four elements of EQ must be there…None of them are optional for a healthy relationship.
"May we all develop the strength to love well." ~Dr. David M. Schnarch
About the author: Melissa Hudson, PhD(c) is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Plano, Texas specializing in couples counseling, anxiety disorders, and depression. She also works with adults and families on a full spectrum of concerns. Have questions? Reach out! firstname.lastname@example.org | 214-235-8175 | www.counselingsolutionstexas.com