Emotional intelligence and emotional maturity

 Are you emotionally intelligent?

Have you ever heard of emotional intelligence? You most likely are if you are capable of reading other people’s emotions. Some people are just way better at it than others. This capacity is required if you want to have any type of profound or intimate moment with another person. It is required if you want to flirt or initiate sex with a partner. Without some form of emotional intelligence, our conversations would be completely rational and robotic, which is not the case for most people. Emotional intelligence is your capacity to mind-map a person and know their desires, intentions and emotions through their tone of voice, body language and facial expressions.


The bad side of emotional intelligence

Unfortunately, emotional intelligence isn’t always a good thing to have. If you use it with bad intentions, you can really hurt someone else. People who are highly intelligent when it comes to emotions can easily detect other people’s weak spots and use it against them. You either know a person like that or you are a person like that or both. Which one is it for you? Have you ever been really mean to someone by using their insecurities against them? Do you know someone who does do that? Politicians, therapist, lawyers, police interrogators, narcissist, salesmen and others excel at reading others. Some use their emotional intelligence to help others and maintain healthy relationships. While others use it to their advantage to the detriment of the person they are using it against.

Emotional intelligence in a couple

We all have some form of emotional intelligence and we use it in our sex lives and romantic relationships with our spouse. Our emotional intelligence tends to be especially used when we are fighting or in a conflict with them. It allows us to understand how they feel when we say something that might be hurtful or nasty to them. They evaluate you and you evaluate them constantly while you are talking or arguing together. You can either use it to resolve the conflict and find a solution that works best for both or try to get your way and out-smart your lover. How do you use your emotional intelligence?

What is emotional maturity, then?

Emotional maturity is a choice, not a capacity. Either you choose to be mature or you don’t. Emotional maturity is using your emotional intelligence to be a nice person. It is also your capacity to manage your own emotions without blaming others for them but owning your emotions. Only you get to decide how you express your emotions, not your spouse. We cannot control our emotions as they come as a reflex, but how you manage and express them is a choice you constantly make. If you are mad, you could punch someone in the face to alleviate the anger. You can also decide to verbally yell at your spouse or in a calm matter name what makes you angry.

Emotional maturity, in a couple, is taking the time to consider your spouse’s feelings and your own and acting in a manner that will help the situation and eventually solve it. Emotionally immature adults tend to victimize themselves and blame their partner for how they make them feel. They justify their actions by the action of the other. If both are doing the same, this can go in circles for quite a while. Let’s give an example:

  1. Spouse A gives a snide remark to Spouse B, because they didn’t do XYZ and they feel unimportant because of it.
  2. Spouse B yells out to the other to get off their backs.
  3. Spouse A critiques Spouse B of being self-centered and selfish all the time
  4. Spouse B critiques Spouse A of always criticizing them
  5. Spouse A bring out an old emotional wound of Spouse B in a deliberate manner to hurt them
  6. Spouse B brings back an old fight, completely changing the initial subject at hand
  7. Rince and repeat for 30 minutes to an hour

This can go on and on and on, while nothing gets resolved. Both partners in this situation are emotionally intelligent, but neither is emotionally mature. It would only take one of them to show some maturity and restraint themselves from trying to bring the other one down or try to win the argument to calm things down. How would you have reacted in a similar situation in your relationship? Would you have participated in staking up the emotional wounds and attacks to each other or would you have brought yourself to be a mature adult and decide to let go of winning the argument by trying to understand what was really going on in this context?


 How to increase our emotional maturity?

When you are faced with a conflict try to act in a collaborative manner. If you feel that what you are saying or doing isn’t helping the dialogue:

  • Take a step back and breathe
  • Reflect on what the other is trying to tell you
  • Add something that will make the conversation progress and not digress
  • Remain calm and listen to each other
  • Try not to argue or poke holes in what they are saying
  • Don’t change the subject, bring up old wounds or be mean to each other
  • Don’t be selfish and see yourself as the victim
  • Avoid trying to WIN the argument, you’ll both be losers at the end anyway if you do that
  • Be respectful and apologize when you feel that you were in the wrong
  • Don’t pout or act like a child, be a mature adult


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Learn more about the author

Francois Renaud M.A.

Sex therapist & psychotherapist in Downtown Montreal
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