Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, manage and use emotions effectively. Someone with a high level of emotional intelligence is more able to emphasise with others, stay calm in stressful situations and be in tune with the emotions of themselves and others. Alternatively, someone who struggles with emotional intelligence may be more likely to: lose control of their emotions; be insensitive; blame other people for problems; and struggle to understand body language and facial cues.


Difference in emotional intelligence in couples

Stereo-typically, men have been thought of as having lower emotional intelligence than women. Generally, this is due to the differences in how male and female children have been raised, especially in relation to expressing their emotions and particularly in older generations. Sometimes, genetic factors may play a part, such as a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder or autism traits.

At Morency we work with people whose partners struggle to connect with their emotions. We have found that this problem can be present in a relationship for many years but become particularly apparent during midlife; when children have left home, working weeks are shorter and couples are spending more time together.

If there is a discrepancy in the emotional intelligence levels of the two people in a couple then this can cause difficulties in the relationship. If both parties are open to the concept then couples’ therapy can be helpful. It is also important for the couple to consider if this discrepancy in emotional intelligence has always been present or if it is new for one person. A recent dulling of emotions or other signs of low emotional intelligence could be symptoms of a mental health problem such as depression. Equally, it is worth considering if the low emotional intelligence is due to early trauma which would benefit from psychological intervention.


Self-care in relationships

If your partner appears to have a low level of emotional intelligence, regardless of if they are seeking support, it is also important to care for yourself. Try the following:

  • Practice self-care strategies
  • Ensure you have friendships or relationships with other adults who are able to offer you emotional support
  • Acknowledge the parts of your relationship with your partner that are good and that you do not get from other relationships (for example, sex, holidays or a hobby you share); ensure you make time for these activities
  • Don’t expect complete change from your partner, but focus on one or two small things that most upset you or effect your relationship. Communicate these to your partner and explain that they upset you. You could ask your partner to hold your hand when you walk together or ask how your day was. Explain to your partner why these small things matter to you.


If you would like to discuss emotional intelligence further, then please call Dr Julie Hannan now on 07530 854530. Dr Julie Hannan specialises in Midlife issues and further midlife information can be found at www.drjuliehannan.com