Scientific Guide to Emotional Compatibility

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By David Webb, Expert Psychology Author

Learn all about emotional intelligence, why it can matter more than IQ and why emotional compatibility is crucial within relationships.

In a previous article, I addressed the importance of IQ compatibility within successful relationships. In the course of that article eight distinct signs of intelligence were outlined, along with the key observation that interpersonal intelligence (the ability to emphasize with and sensitively respond to the moods, emotions and motivations of others) and intrapersonal intelligence (the ability to navigate your own emotions, personality traits and mind-set) have the most positive impact. In other words, the evidence suggests that emotional compatibility is even more important than intellectual compatibility when it comes to great relationships.

In the last decade or so, science has discovered a tremendous amount about the role emotions play in our lives. Researchers have found that even more than IQ, your emotional awareness and ability to handle feelings will determine your success and happiness in all walks of life.” – John Gottman, Ph.D.

The impetus for much of this research owes a great deal to the work of psychologist Daniel Goleman, whose 1995 book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ was an international bestseller.

What is emotional intelligence (EQ)?

Emotional intelligence is essentially concerned with how you manage yourself and your relationships. According to Daniel Goleman, EQ consists of four domains:

  • Self Awareness

  • Self Management

  • Social Awareness

  • Relationship Management

Within these four domains there are a number of competencies i.e., associated skills such as:

For additional emotional intelligence examples and to learn more about the groundbreaking work of psychologist Daniel Goleman, visit For anybody interested in the application and impact of emotional intelligence in the workplace, the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations is an excellent resource.

The importance of emotional intelligence

Before addressing the importance of emotional intelligence, particularly in respect of emotional compatibility, it should be noted that emotional intelligence is not always more important than IQ. 

For example, IQ would be more influential than EQ when it comes to academic achievement; however, as far as fulfilling relationships are concerned, emotional intelligence clearly matters more. As psychology professor, Glenn Geher Ph.D. states “Our ability to read other people’s emotional states, and to communicate our own to others, remain essential, and a deficit of those skills tends to cause serious social, romantic, and professional problems.” 

To help demonstrate his point, Geher asks us to consider the following:

Think of the person in your world whom you would deem as extremely poor at expressing their emotional states to others. This person might be furious with a co-worker who slighted them, but might have a complete inability to express anger or upset. Or this person might be thrilled with a birthday present that a friend gave to them, but may have zero capacity to show happiness or gratitude in the moment.

Geher then asks us to answer the following questions:

  1. Do you think that this person’s inability to effectively express their emotional states might make for difficulties in friendships?
  2. Do you think that this person’s inability to effectively express their emotional states might make for difficulties in obtaining and maintaining a relationship with a solid romantic partner?

I’m confident that like most of the people who have been asked these questions, you will have quickly answered yes to both.

The importance of emotional compatibility

The simple but powerful exercise outlined above, not only helps demonstrate the importance of emotional intelligence in general but also specifically serves to show just how important emotional compatibility is.  

To be of like mind emotionally is crucial within relationships. Without emotional compatibility all the elements of a healthy relationship become practically impossible to establish and maintain e.g., mutual respect, the feeling of being understood and open communication.

Would you rather have a good friend who understands your feelings or one who has no clue or concern for your inner emotional world? And, of course, all of this is essentially double-downed when we think about a long-term romantic partner. Would you rather have a spouse who feels and understands your emotional states or one who is fully clueless regarding how you feel? The answer is kind of obvious. – Dr. Glenn Geher 

Want to assess your own emotional intelligence and find people you share EQ compatibility with? Check out this emotional intelligence test provided by Psychometrica.

Can you increase your emotional intelligence?

Absolutely, the great news is that there are a number of things you can do to enhance your emotional intelligence. For example, Amy Morin, an internationally recognized expert on mental strength notes that simply taking a few moments each day to pay attention to how you are feeling so that you become comfortable labeling your emotions, is just one way of deepening your emotional intelligence

And just in case you’re wondering why you want to increase your emotional intelligence, I’ll leave you with the following quote. 

If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” —Daniel Goleman, Ph.D.

How to find emotionally compatible relationships

Want to make amazing friends while learning more about yourself? The free Vera app was designed by psychology and relationship experts to introduce compatible people with the aim of establishing interesting conversations, friendships, or relationships. Meet people near you and around the world and learn what true psychometric compatibility feels like. Download the Vera app now or try our recommended free psychometric tests.

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