You already know the basics of solid relationships, like trust, respect, and good communication. But there’s another crucial ingredient in successful partnerships that you may not know about.
It’s called emotional intelligence, explains psychotherapist Dr. Deborah Sandella, and the more you have, the better off you and your partner will be.
Emotional intelligence (EI for short) is best explained as heightened awareness of your feelings moment to moment. Most people react immediately to physical sensations like pain, discomfort, or dizziness. An emotionally intelligent person, however, will also notice and react to their feelings with the same immediacy, rather than ignoring or burying them.
“EI means we are in touch with our feelings, can communicate with others about our feelings, and appreciate others’ feelings,” Sandella told INSIDER.
And that’s really important when you’re trying to form a relationship with another person.
“When a couple’s combined emotional intelligence is higher, their relationship has more depth, less conflict, and fewer negative qualities — all making them more likely to stay together,” Sandella said.
So how do you figure out your own level of EI? This simple quiz from Dr. Sandella can help. Sit down with your partner in a fun, informal setting (don’t make it feel like an interrogation!) and ask each other these questions. Answer instinctually — don’t think too much before you respond.
1. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest) how in touch are you with your feelings from moment to moment?
2. What is your favourite feeling? What is your scariest feeling? Why?
3. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest), how loveable do you think you are?
4. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest), how much do you allow yourself to receive help and support from others?
This series of questions does two things: First, it forces partners to be vulnerable with each other — and this kind of confessions can fosters greater intimacy.
“Vulnerability helps us to soften and feel more understanding,” Sandella said. “We can start to have more empathy for the other person.”
Second, it gives both partners an idea of how emotionally intelligent they are. The higher you score yourself on the three ratings questions, the higher your emotional intelligence.
The good news is that both partners don’t need to have high scores for a relationship to work. Sandella cited research that found couples with one emotionally intelligent partner are just as successful as couples with two emotionally intelligent partners.
“It only takes one,” she said. “The partner with high EI, over time, will teach the other person.”
Plus, you can improve your own EI — here are 7 practical ways to do it.
Want a more fine-tuned reading of your EI? Dr. Sandella has an extended quiz that you can take right here.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.