By Susan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence Coach
Apply your Emotional Intelligence (EQ) when you're choosing who to date and marry. Approach it with both thinking and feeling. It's an important decision that will affect the rest of your life.
1. Choosing the obvious ones to avoid: addicts, child abusers, chronic gamblers, felons, "boys", etc. If you keep falling in love with the wrong type of guy, you need help. Please seek it.
2. Choosing by sexual attraction alone. That's a choice your reptilian brain is making which is to say not a choice at all. "Choosing" implies weighing alternatives and being rational. In no area of your life do you want your reptilian brain in charge. It doesn't "think."
3. Choosing by externals alone. It's nice if he's handsome, but not if he's just another pretty face. Are you choosing a 37' powerboat instead of a man who owns one? His face will change; his toys may disappear. It's "for better or for worse," not "for as long as he can buy me Fendi handbags."
4. Rushing. Date him long enough to go through actual situations that test what you can't see and touch - his values, priorities, manners, morals, and interests . At first you'll go to drag races, WFW matches and duck hunting just to be with him, right? Do you really see yourself doing these things every weekend for the rest of your life? By the same token, is he being nice to your kids just to get to you? Is he willing to go shopping with you and to art museums? Only time will tell.
5. Rushing. Give it time so he can sort out his feelings. Men tend to go from desire to action without thinking in between. This is why we see them make such poor choices in women, and then do it again. You may be sure, but is he?
6. Rushing. You need time because even a workaholic will give you attention 24/7 at first. Only 6 months down the line will you discover that once he's "got you," he compartmentalizes you. Work comes first, then his golf. He'll summon you when it's your turn.
7. Not checking out his attitude toward women. How does he treat his mother? Your friends? His sister?
8. Trusting only your intellect.
This means gathering facts, listening to experts, not checking in with your intuition, and listening to advice. Let's say your best friend, who's very perceptive, tells you he's a womanizer.
I'd give that some weight, but I'd check it out myself. It won't be hard. Give it time, stay awake and you'll see.
Another example - You made the list of what you wanted. There he is in front of you, lacking 3 of the 6 items on your list, but you adore him. You really click. That's a good time to go back and rethink your list. You're always entitled to change your mind.
9. Trusting only your feelings. Come now, do you really think you can make a life with someone who is (admittedly) darling and sexy BUT hates your religion, has different morals and ethics than you do, has already alienated your father, wants 6 kids while you don't want any, refuses to "let" you work, and has already ordered you to get rid of your cat? This is like allowing yourself to fall in love with a married man. Just go stick an ice pick in your eyeball instead.
10. Misunderstanding the nature of feelings. Our emotions give us information. They don't demand behavior. When I was a teenager I was dating a creep. My father told me I had to quit seeing him. "But I love him," I said. Said he: "Love someone else." No, you can't manufacture feelings. No, they do not have to be acted upon. They can be "taken under consideration" and thought through.
Take a look inside him. Ask yourself these questions.
1. What's his EQ? Did you know you can measure it? Since your relationship depends upon your interpersonal skills, it would be smart if you both took the EQ-MapŠ and then worked with an EQ coach on areas needed. EQ can be learned. Go here - http://tinyurl.com/z94t .
2. Does he have deficits in the limbic brain? This is about eye contact, oxytocin, bonding, parenting, affection, using the word "we". If all you're getting is reptilian (sex ) and neocortex (intellectual), why give up good closet space?
3. How's the left- right brain balance? Talking to someone who's all left-brain is like getting facts from a machine. Talking to someone who's all right-brain - they may not be organized enough to show up for the talk!
4. How "male" brained is he? According to Simon Baron-Cohen, the extreme male brain is good at systematizing, and low on empathy. It takes the average male 7 times longer to process emotional information than for a woman to. What if it takes him 70 times longer? What if he can't get there at all?
5. How does he manage his anger? You need to experience this. Don't make a decision until you've had your first big fight. Make sure you both trust yourselves and the relationship enough to be able to disagree openly and come to a resolution.
6. Will he be there for you? As Oriah Mountain Dream says, will he "stand in the middle of the fire with [you] and not shrink back?" It's a sign of maturity and character to be able to stand and deliver when you feel like running.
7. Can he be faithful? This isn't a philosophical question. If it happens to you, it can hit you in the gut. Male infidelity may be intellectually defensible, but emotionally it destroys the covenant of the relationship the way the radioactive contamination from a nuclear bomb destroys vegetation. It won't be coming back in your lifetime, and without it, there is no relationship.
8. Does he know enough is enough? One should never use more force than is necessary. Can he think before he speaks and then deliver just the right amount. And no more. It shows empathy, self-confidence, and self-control. This means resisting all urges to deliver the big one-two he knows would really really hurt you in a verbal argument.
9. Do you laugh together? If there's anything you can count on to get you through the long haul, it's a sense of humor. Wit gets bonus points with me. It can be used in public, and can save your marriage on a 6-hour car trip. Silliness - now that's the sign of true loves.
10. Does he say nice things to you about you and the relationship? The formula is 3 positive things for each negative thing. Does he do this? Is he willing to learn?
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