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How do Emotions Affect Relationships: Psychology of Trust

How Emotions Affect Relationships

Virtually everything around us today is enabled or assisted by the use of technology. Luckily, we haven’t turned into robots yet!

Our feelings and emotions still affect us.

So, HOW do Emotions affect Relationship Psychology?

It takes love to bring two people together, but a relationship lasts only if other important emotional needs are met. Why are emotional needs important in a relationship? Well, in a partnership you seek affection, security, appreciation – all the things that make you a more fulfilled person. Emotions are the means to express and receive these key human requirements. If you can’t express your needs your partner will not be able to support you fully. However, if your partner isn’t receptive to your needs then you won’t feel safe or cherished. It is a two-way street. When you are encouraged by those whom you love, you get the strength to face life’s other challenges. 

No wonder then that lack of support is the leading cause of divorce in the US, according to a Forbes online survey.

The constant fighting, loathing, and outbursts will take a toll on your relationship until eventually one of you gives up. 

You must think, what is the strongest emotion that decides which relationship will flourish and which won’t?

But then, what are emotions anyway?

Why do we feel emotions?

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines emotion as a reaction with a complex pattern. An emotion contains a mix of physiological, behavioral, and experiential elements. 

What emotion you feel depends on the event or matter you experience.

Think of the joy you felt on your first date, viz-a-viz, the anger you experienced on your first fight with your partner. The person is the same, but the situations are different.

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As you can see, emotions can provide pleasure but also instigate violence. If you flip this notion, emotions also become a way to express these same feelings. 

So emotions help you communicate, but not in a dull transfer-of-information kind of way. They allow you to form deeper bonds by feeling things together. 

You might think that anger is bad and pleasure is the way to go. The truth is much more nuanced than labeling emotions as “good” or “bad”.

P.S. Thich Nhat Hanh has been one of my favorite people for a long time! He was nominated by Martin Luther King, Jr. for a Nobel Peace Prize, and was a leading source of wisdom, peace, compassion, and comfort.

From my personal experience, I highly recommend his book Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames (amazon affiliate link) if you want tools for transforming relationships, focusing energy, and rejuvenating those parts of you that have been laid waste by anger.

What are “bad” emotions in a relationship?

Learning how to deal with emotions, good and bad, so you can experience life without unnecessary turmoil.

Paul Ekman, an emotional psychologist, lists six basic emotions that we all feel as humans. They are:

  • Anger
  • Contempt
  • Disgust
  • Enjoyment
  • Fear
  • Sadness
  • Surprise

What is the strongest emotion on the list? That depends on the context. Which is the worst emotion on the list? That too depends on the situation.

Disgust is not a good feeling, but it prevents you from eating spoilt food that will make you sick. Fear is not desirable, however it will stop you from jumping into the lion’s den at the zoo. 

In a relationship, all these emotions have a role to play.

Our failure to regulate and work with our emotions causes the problem. Conversely, we get in trouble for not interpreting our partner’s emotions correctly. 

When emotions turn toxic

So it is not the emotion per se that is harmful. It can however manifest itself in disastrous ways. Left unchecked, this manifestation turns a relationship toxic where partners may try to:

  • Manipulate each other to do one’s bidding
  • Use shame, force, or coercion to make the other comply
  • Resent even the smallest mistakes made by the other
  • Blame the other for their own mistakes

So, what is the most powerful emotion? Frankly, it’s more important to figure out how to handle emotions than identifying a single emotion as problematic. 

How do you handle emotions in a relationship?

Sometimes, a journey inward is the first route on the road to a successful relationship #emotionalhealth 

You cannot be at your best all the time. There will be moments when you lose your cool. Sometimes your partner will give you a hard time. Luckily, there are things you can do to work around your emotions.

Build Trust

Being able to express yourself to your partner without the fear of judgment is essential in building trust. 

But you know what? Sometimes, you will feel judged.

After a bad day at work, you may have little patience for your partner. The silly things they do, which you normally find amusing, may irritate you. Before you know it, an argument ensues.

That’s all part of a relationship. The problem arises when arguments and conflicts turn into resentments.

Gradually, you stop communicating freely and the partner you once trusted appears unsupportive.

With a little compassion and awareness, you can understand the emotional needs of your partner.

P.S. For me The Forty Rules Of Love (amazon affiliate link) by Elif Shafak has been the greatest, most beautiful glimpse of unconditional love.

Remember, it is not about CONTROLLING your emotions but understanding them in the first place.

Learn to Express

Allow your emotions to guide you without letting them overwhelm your senses. For instance, when you are angry, focus more on expressing what’s causing the anger than “getting angry.”

You know what I mean?

Check in with yourself – what’s making me feel so angry? Am I feeling hurt? Could it be that my partner’s action made me feel like I don’t matter to them as much? And then communicate that!

Yeah I know, it’s not easy. But hey, you reach the “easy” by practicing it over and over again.

If you’re looking for a framework to express your emotions and improve your communication skills in your relationships: Marshall B. Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships (amazon affiliate link) has been a life savior for me – it transformed the way I thought about relationships and communication!

Make a Commitment

Remember self-affirmations? They are positive statements you say to yourself to become the person you want to be.

If you think they are cheesy, you are not alone. However, if you think they don’t work, you are wrong.

Making a commitment, out and loud, to your partner is very effective. When you are clear with your intentions, and also express them clearly, it increases the likelihood of actually following through. 

Lock eyes and commit to be kinder to each other. You’re both in this together, remember? You literally (and hopefully!) are playing for the same team. 

Handle Conflicts well

If there is conflict, mind the language you use to express disapproval. You would know the things that can truly hurt your partner’s feelings. So don’t say them. 

The aim is to resolve the conflict, not make your partner feel miserable.

When offended, your partner is less likely to listen to you. They may even lash out at you, or worse, completely shut down. 

Validate each other

A good way to offer support is by acknowledging the nice, supportive things your partner does for you.

Doing so will also remind you of how much they care about you. It will bring you closer and make the bond stronger. 

Handling your emotions takes time and effort. With proper guidance, not only can you learn to express your own feelings but also interpret those of your partner.

What if you had ALL the necessary skills to lead an emotionally happy, healthy, and fulfilling life – with a loving, meaningful relationship with yourself, with others, and with your work – that is deeply aligned with your core?

If you’re looking to own your healing and growth, and want to learn the most effective skills and strategies that will support your emotional and relational healing, Learn-Heal-Grow School – is for you!

Conclusion

  • Why do we feel emotions: To express ourselves on a deeper level and create more intimate bonds. 
  • Are emotions important in relationships: A resounding yes! By expressing our feelings freely we feel more connected, secure, and appreciated by our partner. 
  • Good and bad emotions: Emotions are not inherently good or bad. It is how we express and react to them that can make a situation less ideal. 
  • Handling emotions: Learn to express what you feel without hurting your partner’s sentiments. Make a conscious commitment to be nicer to each other and find opportunities to cherish each other. 

In the intimate tango of feelings, the emotional needs of women and men need to be met. 

Hopefully, this article helped you understand the role of emotions in a relationship. 

Are emotions important in relationships according to you? What are your most pressing emotional needs? 

Feel free to let us know in the comments below!

Curious to learn the secret to a fulfilling relationship? Happy Relationships: The ONLY Thing That Matters would be a great read for you.

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4 Comments

  1. Every part of the article is so true, and it spoke to me. A relationship, so effortless and easy suddenly can become difficult based on various situation, health issues, work pressure, social commitment, etc. We forget, to be kind to each other to respect each other, and thereby create unhealthy emotional patterns within ourselves, which are often hard to break. Thank you for this article, no matter how bad the situation is I will bring my consciousness to be kind to my partner, remain calm, hold my head high and carry-on.

    1. Yes! And that’s the key – be kind, and at the same time hold your head high. Meet the others needs, and also state your needs – only when both have their needs met does the whole relationship blossom! I’m so glad you found this useful 🙂

  2. Normally I do not read article on blogs however I would like to say that this writeup forced me to try and do so, Your writing style has amazed me. Thanks, quite a great post.

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