9 Signs Your Potential Partner Is Emotionally Intelligent

Emotional intelligence is a secret superpower that can make or break a relationship. Initially coined by American psychologist Daniel Goleman in his 1995 book of the same name, emotional intelligence is the special ingredient in your relationship cake, adding depth, understanding, and a sprinkle of connection. When your partner possesses emotional intelligence, they become the Robin to your Batman, the Louise to your Thelma. They can read your emotions like a well-worn comic book, flipping through the pages of your feelings with ease. They know when to offer a comforting word, a tight hug, or a hilarious meme that makes you snort-laugh Diet Coke out of your nose.

Different from cognitive intelligence which contributes to academic and professional success, it helps individuals understand and connect with others on an emotional level which leads to better communication, conflict resolution, and being overall socially and emotionally competent. Imagine you're stuck in a funk, feeling as cheery as a rainy day in July. Your emotionally intelligent honeybun not only notices the dark cloud hovering above your head but also has a knack for coaxing out the sun. They whip out their metaphorical umbrella, armed with compassion and empathy, ready to ride out the storm with you.

You don't want to end up as one of those couples bickering about tiny things like what noodle shape to buy or where the best parking space is, and that's why emotional intelligence is so important to look for in a partner.


When you've had a day straight out of a Final Destination movie, there's nothing better than having an empathetic partner to greet you at the door when you get home. Your real-life superhero, swooping in to save the day as you're screaming into your pillow out of rage, is next-level romantic. If they're actively listening to your venting session, offering a warm hug, and understanding words, they have emotional intelligence up the wazoo.

An emotionally intelligent partner knows how to rock the empathy game during disagreements, too. They don't just steamroll over your opinions like a bulldozer; oh no, they step into your shoes and understand where you're coming from. It's like having a debate with a master diplomat who seeks a win-win situation. They communicate with kindness, address your concerns, and find solutions that leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. But here's the real gem — an empathetic partner shows that they actually care about your emotions. They're not just in it for the surface-level stuff; they genuinely care about your happiness. They create a cozy haven where you can spill your emotional beans without fear of judgment. And guess what? When you share those vulnerable moments, their empathetic response becomes the glue that seals the trust between you.

May Han, a licensed marriage and family therapist told PsychCentral, "One tip to be more empathetic with your partner on a daily basis is actually to slow down and be aware of yourself. When we are in task mode, our brain shuts down the part in charge of social connection." To remedy this, she recommends slowing down, meaning putting your phone down when you're with your partner, not bringing work home, and saving house chores for another time.

Active listening

We've all been there, sharing an epic tale only to realize our partner's mind has taken a detour to Planet Me-Myself-and-I. But an emotionally intelligent partner knows the art of active listening like the back of their hand. Active listening means fully engaging with your partner's words, both verbally and non-verbally. It means staying present in the moment and giving undivided attention.

It's not just about hearing the words; it's about diving headfirst into the sea of conversation and swimming with the current. Imagine you're pouring your heart out about your day, and your partner's eyes are locked on yours, nodding along like a bobblehead on caffeine. They ask questions that make you feel like a captivating storyteller, not just a blabbering mess. They pay attention to your tone, your body language, and the rollercoaster of emotions written on your face. So, when you're fuming about that friend who turned into a drama queen, they don't just roll their eyes and change the subject. Oh no, they dig deeper, asking about the specific stressors that got you all fired up.

Ever been in a conversation with someone who was simply waiting for you to finish talking so they could get to their point? It's pretty obvious. Robert Solley, Ph.D. and a clinical psychologist specializing in couples therapy told PsychCentral, "The listener has to hold back their own emotional reactions and interpretations, and really try to get the essence of what the speaker is putting out." Active listening isn't just about hearing; it's about building trust, and when your partner hangs on your every word, it's like they're saying, "Your thoughts and feelings matter to me."


It's like having a personal emotional bodyguard by your side — someone who knows their own feelings and can express them with finesse. An emotionally intelligent, self-aware partner knows how to communicate their emotions without playing guessing games, especially when they've had a rollercoaster of a day. So, when they're feeling stressed or overwhelmed, they give you the inside scoop, helping you understand what's going on; no more deciphering code names for emotions like a secret agent!

A self-aware partner can acknowledge their own flaws and take responsibility for their actions. They're like personal growth professionals, willing to learn and evolve. For example, they might realize they have a habit of being a little too critical. Instead of being stuck in criticism mode, they transform into constructive communicators. 

Licensed clinical psychologist and professor Alexandra H. Solomon, Ph.D. told Goop, "We can develop relational self-awareness by paying attention to relationship dynamics. It's this idea of looking at everything that happens in a relationship as being a dance, a pattern, a choreography — and understanding how we each play off each other. So often, those dynamics and patterns predate the relationship itself." A self-aware partner knows how to avoid the trap of defensive or passive-aggressive behavior. They're like emotional acrobats, flipping and twisting away from triggers like a Cirque du Soleil performer. They understand their own emotional dance moves, so they can manage them like a pro; no passive-aggressive post-it notes on the fridge or silent treatments.

Emotional regulation

Emotional regulation is the ability to manage and control your own emotions in a healthy and constructive manner, meaning you're not flipping off every person driving slowly in the left lane. An emotionally intelligent person who possesses these skills can remain calm and composed during stressful situations, and they don't react impulsively, allowing some time for reflection during a triggering situation. When an individual can regulate their own emotions, they are better equipped to empathize with their partner's emotional experiences.

What about the opposite? Emotional dysregulation can occur if someone experienced childhood trauma. Your fight or flight response (limbic system) and the ability to make rational decisions (prefrontal cortex) can affect emotional regulation if you experienced things like abuse or neglect, according to PsychCentral.

Emotional regulation in a partner is important to the health of a relationship, especially in dealing with conflict. Let's say they're in the middle of a setback at work, and they're feeling like Kim Cattrall on the set of Sex and the City. They have the mental strength to ride that rage wave like a pro surfer in Nazaré, remaining cool as a cucumber and not taking their frustrations out on you. What if you're the one who stepped on your partner's emotional toes? They know how to handle it with thoughtful communication, rather than going nuclear on you.

Social skills

Strong social skills allow someone to forge and maintain healthy relationships, building rapport and connection with others effortlessly. They are adept at engaging in conversations, active listening, and articulating their thoughts and feelings clearly and concisely. An emotionally intelligent person can read body language and tone of voice really well, adjusting their behavior accordingly. But, why is this important in a partner?

Social skills are the secret sauce of any relationship, and we're not talking about the need to be exceptionally extroverted or having to be the life of the party either. What we mean is that an emotionally intelligent partner will establish a rapport and connection with those around them, which means introducing them to your family and friends should be a breeze. They can artfully express their thoughts and feelings while being attentive to the needs and perspectives of others. Basically, they get a golden buzzer for the well-choreographed dance of communication.

If you two get into a disagreement, they can channel their emotional intelligence into expressing their viewpoint respectfully and actively listening to find common ground. Having them by your side during stressful life situations will be seen as a perk of the relationship. Dr. Goleman, the author of "Emotional Intelligence", explained during an interview with Aleteia that a socially adept person won't just survive, but can thrive during a life crisis. They know how to seek support when they need it and provide a helping hand to those around them.


A partner who has strong resilience demonstrates emotional strength and stability. They are not easily overwhelmed by obstacles or setbacks, but instead, approach every turn and red flag with determination.

Resilience allows a partner to navigate conflicts and difficult emotions in a healthy and constructive manner, meaning they can handle disagreements or misunderstandings in your relationship without completely losing it. A resilient partner is open to learning from experiences and embracing change. For example, if you and your partner are facing a major life challenge, like a financial setback, their resilience kicks in like a turbocharged engine. They tackle the situation head-on with a positive mindset, determined to find solutions and provide you with the support you need.

A resilient partner knows how to handle conflict and difficult emotions with finesse. When tensions arise, they become masters of open communication, listening, and understanding your perspective while navigating the stormy waters of disagreement. They see challenges as opportunities for growth and self-improvement, like the best personal development gurus. In the previous interview, Dr. Goleman explained that emotionally intelligent people can come out the other side of a crisis, as helping others and being needed can help us get stronger and become even more resilient.

Sensitivity to others

A partner who is sensitive to others demonstrates genuine care and empathy along with the ability to understand and validate the emotions and experiences of their loved ones. Imagine you've had a tough day shopping for those final holiday gifts on December 23rd, and you know your partner's sensitivity radar is on point. They catch your worried, tired expression from across the room and spring into action, offering an ear or surprising you with a cuddle. It's like they have a sixth sense for knowing exactly what you need at that moment.

Their ability to be in tune with your emotional state creates a sense of support in the relationship. An emotionally intelligent partner is attuned to your non-verbal signals and they can sense when something is bothering you, even if you haven't explicitly said what it is. A sensitive partner becomes the body language whisperer, picking up on your movements, and all those subtle cues that even the best poker players would envy. It's like they have an emotional lie detector, minus the interrogation room drama!

A 2022 study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology took a look at couples on the brink of divorce. They were given relationship training to help improve their marriages. After giving the subjects personality tests, they found that sensitive people were more likely to use training to save their marriage, and couples who reported at least one person as being sensitive reported improvement in their relationship.

Open to feedback and constructive criticism

A partner who's open to feedback recognizes that they are not perfect, and uses that for self-improvement. If you offer some constructive criticism about a household chore to your partner, like their questionable dishwashing technique (we've all been there, right?) an emotionally intelligent person doesn't launch into a defensive monologue but rather listens to your perspective, and actually considers making some small changes.

Author Alain de Botton said during a lecture about love in the modern age (via YouTube): "Mothers and friends don't care enough, and don't have to deal with you all the time. They don't give you the vital feedback that only a lover deep in a relationship or marriage would tell you. We don't know how to educate, because we think education is a breach of love, rather than the beginning."

An emotionally intelligent partner understands that feedback is a vital aspect of healthy communication. They value open dialogue and actively seek to understand and address your concerns. If you express annoyance with a specific behavior, like how they won't put their phone down at the dinner table or leave wet towels on the floor, they will listen attentively, reflect on their actions, and engage in a constructive conversation to find a resolution. They will embrace the opportunity to learn and improve themselves, meaning they will view feedback as a catalyst for personal development rather than as a personal attack.

Conflict resolution skills

When your significant other possesses strong conflict resolution skills, it demonstrates their emotional maturity and ability to navigate difficult situations. For example, if you're in the midst of bickering about where to spend the holidays, instead of resorting to shouting like a toddler who can't get that lollipop or giving you the silent treatment, they will try to de-escalate the situation and have a calm, open conversation. They will actively listen to your concerns, validate your emotions, and work towards finding a mutually satisfying solution. They won't dismiss your feelings or engage in blame-shifting, but rather take responsibility for their part in the conflict, and maybe even apologize.

According to Marriage.com, having to deal with problems in your relationship is a natural part of life. But when couples in healthy relationships have issues, they work on resolving them. As they get older, couples become better at their conflict resolution as they get more practice encountering difficulties throughout their marriage.

Instead of engaging in an epic power struggle or hoisting the white flag of avoidance, an emotionally intelligent partner sets sail for Compromise Island. Together, you brainstorm solutions, divvy up tasks like a seasoned crew, and ensure that each of you feels heard and respected. Your partner prioritizes understanding over winning and doesn't use personal attacks like telling you you're just like your mother.