The early days of all relationships can be difficult to navigate. If you want to know how to get a guy to like you, want you, and fall in love with you, you must be sure you’re using your most highly refined communication skills at all times.
Doing so sets the stage for clear, healthy relationship boundaries right from the start. And productive communication begins with emotional awareness, otherwise known as “emotional intelligence.”
What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional Intelligence (EI) — also known by the terms emotional leadership (EL), emotional quotient (EQ) and emotional intelligence quotient (EIQ) — is defined as: “The capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s goal(s).”
This capacity for emotional insight is necessary for you to be able to accurately communicate your thoughts and feelings to someone else.
For example, if you put 99 percent of your energy into getting your hair into the perfectly disheveled bun and picking out an adorable little romper before your date, but only focus 1 percent of your energy on paying attention to the ways your emotions drive your behavior and impact your date, you may not find yourself being asked on a second date by him, or by anyone else for that matter.
Don’t get me wrong. I know it’s not all about you. There are plenty of duds out there, and most women have to wade through ponds and ponds of frogs before finding their true prince.
However, if there have been multiple occasions on which you thought you’d found yourself a prince, only for him to hop away from you before a second date, it might be time to give your level of emotional insight a deeper look.
It takes effort to develop emotional intelligence skills, so you need to be willing to give it more energy than the 90 percent you’re used to putting into your hair and outfit. But if you want to find that prince of a man who makes having kissed all of those frogs worth it, you need to become more proficient at understanding, empathizing and negotiating with others.
Here’s some dating advice to improve your emotional intelligence. With practice, you will understand how emotional intelligence will help you get the guy you want.
1. Increase your self-awareness.
It’s a sophisticated skill to be able to identify, evaluate, and control your emotions when they are happening. When you develop your capacity for this, you become better able to recognize your emotional reactions and how they are affecting others in the moment.
For example, if your new date tells you he had a disagreement with his sister earlier that day and you feel your stomach knot up at the memory of your last fight with your own brother, it’s best not to go off about how annoying your brother, but to stay focused on him and what he is sharing with you.
Instead, take note of your emotion (upset), the sensations in your body (your stomach feeling like it’s in knots) and reflect on it (“Interesting. My emotions were triggered by his story”).
2. Improve your emotional self-regulation.
Once you’ve taken the time to become aware of how you are feeling, you can move onto figuring out how to better regulate your emotions through relaxation exercises like taking deep breaths.
Once you are relatively clear-headed again, you can respond in an attentive way to your date, asking a question like, “What was the argument with your sister about?”
3. Review your motivations.
Emotional intelligence requires you to become crystal clear about your goals and then take a positive attitude toward achieving them. You want to take a good hard look at your motivations and whether you truly want to make a good impression on a potential partner, or if you’re just thinking about how you can get a free dinner.
When you think about your motivation, which is hopefully to evaluate a potential partner and make a good impression on him, it requires you to be aware of your automatic thoughts and whether they tend to be more positive or negative.
When he laughs, do you think about how his face looks weird when he smiles like that, or about the fact that he seems to have a good sense of humor? If he checks his phone during your date, do you think of it as an automatic deal-breaker, or do you say to yourself, “Well, that wasn’t polite, but maybe there’s more to the story. I’ll ask him and see what he says”?
4. Become more attuned with your empathy.
When you can understand how people feel, the benefits play out not only in your love life, but in your overall personal success. By learning how to know what people are feeling through observing their words and behaviors, you become better able to control the signals you send to them as well.
Using your improved emotional intelligence in this way allows you to anticipate and identify your date’s needs.
For example, if he talks about a long meeting he had with his boss, this likely means he’s highly invested in his work. You can acknowledge this by asking him questions about his job, such as what he likes and doesn’t like about it, and what led him to choose his career.
The better you understand what makes him tick, the better you’ll be able to see his true potential.
5. Hone your interpersonal skills.
Highly distilled social skills play a huge role in building a strong, healthy, and lasting connection with a romantic partner.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you communicate clearly, or does he have to guess what you mean when you silently roll your eyes?
- Do you consider his point of view, even when it doesn’t jibe with yours, because you want to work toward collaboration?
If he asks what you do for a living and you’ve just had a day from hell at the office, rather than going off on your own a rant about your unfair workload and inconsistent directives from your boss, try focusing on the fact that you share a similar commitment to your work, and discussing how this passion influences your lives.
Finding the right partner requires your willingness to take the time necessary to get to know who they are, what they stand for and what makes them tick. It definitely takes more than one date to assess someone’s EQ and which of these emotional intelligence skills they posses.
But it won’t matter whether your hair up-do stays in place or your romper shows off your figure if you and this guy can’t connect on a deeper emotional level. And the only way to understand another person is to understand yourself.
Joanne Erman is a leadership coach that works in private practice in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.