Knowing how to improve emotional intelligence will help you in every area of life, especially when it comes to dating and romance. And the good news is that it’s not something you’re simply born with, but a skill that recent studies have shown can be learned.
To be classified as emotionally intelligent, the first thing you need is a curiosity about what that is – so by joining me here you’re already on your way!
As a dating coach and matchmaker, one of the ways I work with people is by helping them gain a better understanding of their emotions.
Because by improving our emotional IQ, we automatically improve our dating life and our relationships.
So, what exactly is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is the conscious awareness of emotion. This relates to how we recognise, relate to, control, and communicate our own emotions and those of others.
Like with all intelligence, the more you know – the more you realise you don’t know.
Five steps to sharpen emotional intelligence and improve relationships:
The best place to gain more emotional intelligence and form more deeply connected relationships, is to start with YOU.
Learn to regularly check in with yourself. If you feel a surge of emotion – positive or negative – try taking a breath and naming the feeling.
Is it joy, anger, frustration, embarrassment?
Once you can name your emotion, you become more in control and conscious of yourself.
This might sound simple, and if you find it easy then get specific. If you can identify feeling ‘happy’, then dig a little deeper. Do you feel loved, contented, safe, rested, joyful?
Then ask yourself WHY?
This can be a bit tougher but can help paint your emotional landscape and navigate dating and relationships much more easily.
For example, if you notice you feel safe when you’re with your new lover, perhaps this is because they’re vocal about wanting to be with you.
Or if you feel frustrated, notice if this emotion tends to come up in certain situations (such as when you don’t leave yourself enough time to get to a date) or around certain people.
Keep practicing this with a wide range of emotions. By identifying what you feel, getting specific about it, and then figuring out why, you are better placed to deal with hard emotions in yourself and others when they arise.
When it comes to emotional intelligence, the benefits of physically putting pen to page are huge! By attaching a physical reality to your mental one, you are better able to rationalise what’s happening emotionally.
Journaling to empty your mind first thing in the morning helps to create mental space for the rest of the day. This is a great morning workout for your mind, much like a sweaty session in the gym.
Here are some simple journaling exercises to help. Set a timer for twenty minutes and see what comes out on the paper, and how you feel before and afterward:
Points of view: Emotionally intelligent people are able to have empathy for other people and themselves, so try free writing (don’t edit or censor yourself) about a challenging situation from your point of view. Then, try writing as if you were the other person and see what comes out.
Strengths and weaknesses: Write down every one of your strengths and your weaknesses. Emotionally intelligent people can better identify these traits in themselves. And just to check, ask someone you trust to look over your list and see if it fits.
Strong emotions: If you find yourself in a rage or extremely upset, start writing about how the emotions feel in your body and any memories that arise. Afterwards, when you feel less raw, read it over and notice if you feel the same or if things have shifted. This process will save you from getting into unhelpful arguments, and will help you reflect on where those strong emotions might come from, without resorting to blame.
Now that you’re able to identify your own emotions and have thought deeply about what they mean, you will be much better placed to have conversations with others.
When we work on our own emotional intelligence it benefits every interaction we find ourselves in.
Here’s a simple process for knowing what you want and communicating it clearly:
Ask yourself, what do I really want from this conversation? Often this is a variation on the desire for a deeper connection with the other person.
Consider your answer and how to approach the conversation. For example, if you want to formalise your relationship or ask for more time together, then you’ll probably approach it with a gentle and generous energy.
Think about whether a phone call, email, letter, message or face-to-face meeting is the best method for your desired outcome. Sometimes, when emotions are very high, setting boundaries in a message is a good first step.
Remember to pause, breath, and listen openly.
When we approach conversations with others from an emotionally intelligent position, we’ve already identified what we are feeling so can calmly communicate.
By having empathy for the other person we are able to really listen so we can both speak, be heard and grow together.
Once you become more emotionally intelligent, you’re able to recognise what you feel and why, so you’re much more likely to stop blaming others for your emotional state.
You are responsible for your own emotions.
This is a big lesson that many of my coaching clients benefit from learning to massively improve their relationships.
Here’s an example of how this could play out:
When James calls Anna a sissy, she breaks down in tears.
James is confused, he name-calls his sisters and friends a sissy all the time and they usually laugh.
What James doesn’t know is that Anna’s mum called her a sissy when Anna cried about breaking up with her childhood boyfriend.
Who is to blame for Anna’s upset? James? Anna? Anna’s mum?
Emotionally intelligent people are able to recognise the nuance involved in feelings because they’ve experienced how wild their own emotions can be, and have learned to accept those emotions for what they are.
No one is to blame for Anna’s upset – it just exists. James thought it was a playful insult, Anna’s mum thought she was encouraging her daughter to be strong, and Anna had no idea the word bothered her until that moment.
Luckily, Anna is emotionally intelligent, so she takes a moment, gathers herself and is able to tell James that being called a sissy makes her feel pathetic and alone because of a childhood experience.
James is then able to comfort Anna because he understands her and doesn’t feel unfairly blamed.
It’s not what happens that matters, it’s how we react to it.
Getting to know your emotional self means you are able to recognise, relate to, control, and communicate your emotions.
Like with most things, emotional intelligence is not something you learn in a day and the work is done. We are constantly changing and so is everyone around us.
Remember, everyone is on their own journey and gains knowledge at a different rate. So don’t be frustrated if the people around you are more or less able than you are to handle emotions.
Here are some things that emotionally intelligent people do that you can work on with yourself:
Making good judgements about people’s character
Letting go of mistakes
Not being easily offended
Knowing when to say no
Extending emotional vocabulary
By recognising your emotions, learning how to communicate them and really understanding areas for improvement, your relationships will become so resilient they can weather any storm.
Asa Baav is a dating coach, relationship coach and matchmaker on a mission to help single Londoners over thirty to find love and sexual compatibility. Don’t leave love to an algorithm, join Tailor Matched today.
Book in your free coaching call with Asa here