In Practice

Putting social psychology to work for you

10 Essential Emotion Skills to Look For in a Partner

Emotion regulation skills to look for in a mate.

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These are ten emotion regulation skills to consider when you're deciding if someone will make a good long-term partner.

1. Can they make effective repair attempts after an argument?

Unless your arguing is particularly contemptuous (eye rolling, calling each other "nuts" etc), whether you argue is not as important as whether you and your mate can effectively repair your bond and sense of trust after arguing.

2. Do they lose control of their actions?

Do they put their fists though walls? Do they spend money you can't afford?

Especially if you're going to have children with someone, you'll want to know that your potential co-parent is reliable and isn't going to be violent or cruel in front of your child/ren.


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3. Can they persist through frustration?

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When they're working on a task or project, do they quit as soon as they hit a difficult point or are they willing to persist through frustration.

4. Are they willing to discuss difficult topics?

When you need to discuss a difficult topic do they refuse to talk (termed stonewalling)? Do they duck, dive, and weave away from tough topics e.g., they tell you they'll talk about it at some later point and then avoid?

5. Can they delay gratification?

Do you think they would've passed the marshmellow test as a child? The ability to pass the marshmellow test is predictive of later success.



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6. Are they able to admit mistakes or acknowledge their role in a problem?

Are they so defensive they can't admit mistakes?

7. Can they identify "soft emotions?" (e.g., feeling sad, lonely, anxious)

When someone isn't able to identify specific emotions it makes it difficult for them to communicate what they're feeling or recognize what types of support someone else needs.


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8. Are they self-absorbed?

Are they able to shift their focus away from themselves long enough to take an interest in your inner experience (your thoughts and feelings?)

9. Are they supportive of your successes?

When something goes right for you, does your partner seem to care?

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10. Do they know how to boost their own mood?

Do they know how to deal with their own stress in effective ways? Do they know how to maintain a positive mood e.g., Do they regularly schedule mood boosting activities such as seeing friends (or whatever is important to them)?

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photo credits: Pink Sherbet Photography Pink Sherbet PhotographyPink Sherbet PhotographyPink Sherbet Photography To Uncertainty and Beyond via photopin cc

Alice Boyes, Ph.D. translates principles from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and social psychology into tips people can use in their everyday lives.

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