Guys, do you want a better, healthier relationship with your partner? Use these 12 steps to improve your ‘relationship intelligence.’
By now most of us know there are multiple types of intelligence, and we’re also aware that emotional intelligence trumps the intellect when it comes to relationships. Because yes, men read relationship articles, too. We even buy self-help books. We even read …
But you may not know there is a subset of emotional intelligence that applies specifically to relationships and even more specifically to intimate partnerships. Let’s call it relationship intelligence.
And let’s dispel right now the myth that women are born with relationship intelligence and have more of it than men. They don’t. But because men have been conditioned to feel inadequate in this area and shown as bumblers in popular media, we have trouble trusting our instincts and tapping our innate relationship skills. So we often come across as under-confident and unsure of ourselves.
Because men have been conditioned to feel inadequate in this area and shown as bumblers in popular media, we have trouble trusting our instincts and tapping our innate relationship skills.
Guys, being a good partner is not difficult. You already have everything you need to bring your best self to a relationship. Because your best self is right there, inside you.
A word about the phrase ‘relationship intelligence.’ I didn’t coin it. There’s a book (from 1998), and a more recent article. But none of the available material distills the wisdom you need to navigate the most important relationship of your life into simple steps you can learn, practice, master, and post on your wall to remind yourself to keep doing them every day.
So here’s your simple 12-step guide to relationship intelligence.
1. Respect yourself.
You thought I was going to start with respect your partner, but the truth is, self-respect comes first and is the foundation of every healthy relationship. No woman wants to be with a doormat, and if you don’t have a spine, you’ll be tagged as a ‘nice guy’ and relegated to the friend zone. Maintaining your boundaries is actually sexy, because it shows a woman you will respect hers too and also draw boundaries around your relationship. Make your personal growth and your self-care important. Don’t be afraid to say no. Make yourself a priority, and your partner will treat you as one.
2. Respect your partner.
There are many ways you can show respect—and you have to show it, not just speak it. Listening is primary, and everything follows from tuning in, hearing your partner, and taking your partner’s needs seriously. The core of respect really is the golden rule of treating your partner the way you’d like to be treated. But you have to go beyond gold and embrace titanium. This means learning to avoid behaviors that come across as disrespectful to your partner, even if you wouldn’t find them disrespectful yourself. Don’t worry about figuring out what these are. Your partner will tell you. Your job is to listen, learn, and back up your knowledge with action.
You have to go beyond gold and embrace titanium. This means learning to avoid behaviors that come across as disrespectful to your partner, even if you wouldn’t find them disrespectful yourself.
3. Don’t prejudge.
You may think you have the answer. You may be convinced you’re right. But there’s a chance you’re dead wrong. Unless you have a thing for dimwits, you chose your partner because this person is smart, so it makes sense to keep an open mind, be willing to see that you might be wrong, admit without reservation when you are wrong, and benefit from your partner’s good sense and wisdom. If you prejudge a situation, you won’t hear what your partner has to say, and you’ll frame your response based solely on your prejudgment. And that’s a recipe for relationship failure.
4. Don’t let the little things go.
A strong relationship is like a piece of woven fabric incorporating all the threads of your day-to-day interaction. Tears in this fabric—even tiny ones—must be mended promptly, before they enlarge, damage its integrity, and threaten to rip it completely apart. If there are too many holes in your relationship fabric, you’ll feel a sense of disintegration. That’s why resolving, forgiving, and reconciling is critical to maintaining your relationship’s longevity and health.