Relationships are largely based on emotion, so when you see advice on how to control your emotions in a relationship, it may be a bit confusing. Never fear, we’re here to clear things up for you. Now, apart from emotion, healthy relationships are also based on a good balance. That’s why, while it’s important to express emotions in a relationship, it’s also important to know to be good at keeping your emotions in check.
It’s important to know how to control your emotions in a new relationship, in a long-distance relationship (LDR), or in a marriage. Too much emotion, or reacting emotionally to every little thing tips the balance in a relationship and can put undue stress on your partner, and your own mental health.
Studies have found that our methods of dealing with conflict and how we manage the emotions resulting from those conflicts affect both the quality and longevity of the relationship.
To gain some insights into sustaining a healthy, balanced relationship with just enough emotional expression, we spoke to counselor Neelam Vats (certified CBT and NLP practitioner), who has over two decades of experience helping children, adolescents, and adults cope with issues related to depression, anxiety, interpersonal relationship, and career concerns.
What Are The Different Emotions In A Relationship?
“Emotions are an essential part of who you are, but they can be messy, complicated, and downright confusing at times. It is within people’s personal relationships that they experience the broadest range of emotions, from the mildest feelings of contentment, annoyance, and anxiety to the most profound experience of love, rage, and despair,” says Neelam.
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She goes on to outline five basic emotions as a framework to break down the complexity of these feelings.
“Enjoyment comes in the form of happiness, love, relief, pride, peace, amusement, and so on. This is when all’s well with your world and you’re happy or at least content with your lot, expressing yourself through laughter or personal indulgences,” says Neelam.
“Sadness is a common enough feeling, of course. In terms of relationships, it could pertain to a sense of rejection in a relationship or an event where you didn’t feel fulfilled or loved. In relationships, sadness may manifest as loneliness, disappointment, grief, or hopelessness,” explains Neelam.
According to Neelam, fear in a relationship is when you perceive some sort of threat, either to yourself or your partner as individuals or to your coupledom. Fear of infidelity, losing your individuality, losing your partner, and/or your relationship could be some relationship fears. These manifest as worry, doubt, anxiety, desperation, confusion, and stress.
“Anger generally arises when you experience some type of injustice or perceived injustice. While people often think of anger as negative, it’s a perfectly normal emotion that can actually help you realize when you’re in a toxic relationship ,” says Neelam. Anger can come out as annoyance, bitterness, frustration, or a sense of having been cheated or insulted.
“You typically experience disgust as a reaction to unpleasant or unwanted situations. Like anger, feelings of disgust can help protect you from things you want to avoid. In a relationship, this can range from offense at something your partner said or did or a sense of disturbance that they are not the person they were before. Disgust can have strong manifestations such as revulsion, nausea, and loathing, to milder variants of being uncomfortable and withdrawing to avoid the source of the disgust,” says Neelam.
What Are Positive And Negative Emotions In Relationships?
“Positive emotions are simply pleasant responses to our environment that are more complex and targeted than simple sensations. On the other hand, negative emotions are unpleasant or unhappy emotions that are evoked to express a negative effect toward an event or person.
Related Reading: 6 Types Of Emotional Manipulation And Expert Tips To Handle Them
“Both positive and negative emotions are necessary. Remember, emotions serve a purpose, even when they’re negative. So, instead of trying to change the emotions you experience, consider how you react to them. It’s usually the reactions that create challenges, not the emotions themselves,” explains Neelam.
9 Expert Tips On How To Control Your Emotions In A Relationship
How to control your emotions in a relationship can make or break things for you and your partner. “Emotions control how we think, talk, and act. That’s why knowing how to take charge of your emotions is necessary for a happy life. Controlling your emotions involves creating a balance between your expectations and your reality. It also means draining negative thoughts from your mind and learning how to keep overwhelming thoughts in check. Above all, creating an emotional balance in a relationship needs a lot of honesty,” says Neelam.
Based on this advice, let’s explore a few ways you can control your emotions, or at least emotional responses, in your relationship:
1. Communicate clearly with your partner
“The first step to control your emotions in a new relationship, in an LDR, or in a marriage is to communicate clearly and with kindness and honesty. This involves both speaking and listening, so be sure to really listen when your partner is sharing something about their day or themselves, and don’t be afraid to share from your end. The whole point of a relationship is to create an environment where both people complement each other. If one person is not contributing, you’re in for a one-sided relationship. And when has that made anybody happy?” says Neelam.
2. Be authentic for healthy emotional balance
“For your relationship to have true emotional balance and emotional control, you both need to be authentic. Being authentic shows that you feel supported in the relationship and your partner should feel able to do the same,” Neelam says.
Being authentic is all about being the best, most real version of you. Trying to pretend you’re someone you’re not is going to take a toll on your emotional health and keeping your emotions in check will be tough. Then, you’ll find yourself wondering, “Why am I so emotional in my relationship?”
3. Practice emotional balance independent of your relationship
“Having a balanced relationship isn’t just about the balance between two partners,” says Neelam, “It’s also about how you balance your emotions within yourself. If you’re not able to practice keeping your emotions in check in your life outside of your relationship, you won’t be able to stop being too emotional in a relationship.”
“I have kind of a fraught relationship with my parents and a lot of anger issues I’m still working out. So, my reaction to everything was to be unnecessarily defensive and refuse to hear anybody out. I put up a lot of walls and just wouldn’t acknowledge my own emotions or express them properly. Obviously, this spilled over into my romantic relationships in a terribly unhealthy way,” shares Diane, 38, a landscape architect.
4. Take a look at the impact of your emotions
“Intense emotions are not all bad. Emotions make our lives exciting, unique, and vibrant. But, it’s imperative to find time to take stock of just how your uncontrolled emotions are affecting your day-to-day life and relationships. This will make it easier to identify problem areas,” advises Neelam.
How to control your emotions in a relationship is all about taking a good, hard look at how they affect other people. If you’re not working on your sadness, your anger, or even how you express joy, people around you could get hurt, sometimes beyond repair. Value your emotions, and value the effect they have.
5. Aim for regulation in your emotions, not repression
“You can’t really control your emotions but you can certainly learn to manage them. There’s a huge difference between control and repression. When you suppress emotions, you’re preventing yourself from experiencing or expressing them, which is going to cause major problems later,” says Neelam.
“I rarely cry in front of people because I’ve always been told it’s a sign of weakness,” says Jackie, 34, a mechanical engineer in New Jersey. “So, when I started seriously dating my current partner, I found it horribly difficult to express emotions in a relationship in a healthy way. I would bottle things up and then there would be an emotional outburst. How to control your emotions in a relationship? I’ll say, express yourself on a regular basis.”
6. Identify what you’re feeling
“Taking a moment to check in with yourself about your mood can help you begin gaining back control of your emotions,” advises Neelam. In other words, put words to your feelings. Look deep within, look at the physical, mental and emotional manifestations going on within you.
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Is your chest tight with anger? Is your throat closing up with unshed tears? Are your fists clenched in fear or is your entire body rigid with anxiety? What are these feelings? What is the source, if there is one (not every emotion has an immediately recognizable source)? Get into your own head and sit there for a bit.
7. Accept your emotions – All of them
So, you’ve identified your emotions. Now what? Do you just know how to control your emotions in a relationship now? Not quite. Firstly, controlling your emotions isn’t a linear process or an “aha!” moment. It ebbs and flows as you learn to express emotions in a relationship and also how to stop being too emotional in a relationship.
Acceptance is your next step. Appreciate that even in the best of relationships, you’re not going to respond with positive emotion all the time aka toxic positivity. There will be anger and sorrow and bitterness and resentment and all the rest of them. It’s what makes you human, and fighting it and trying to smile through gritted teeth in relationships at all times is not healthy.
8. Give yourself some space
Step away from your partner for a bit as you learn how to control your emotions in a relationship. It’s no easy task to introspect and take stock of your own feelings, and a little personal space is good whether you’re trying to control your emotions in a new relationship, in an LDR, in a marriage, and so on.
Whether you practice sleep divorce, a solo vacation or just a long, solitary walk every day, some solitude will help clear your head. If you’d rather talk to other people than be on your own, that’s fine too. Talk to your friends, or you could even head to a professional therapist, in which case Bonobology’s panel of experienced counselors is at your disposal.
9. Try meditation and mood journals
A journal is a good place to write down the question, “Why am I so emotional in my relationship?” It’s also a great place to let loose your feelings with no filter. A mood journal helps you record your emotions and how you respond to each one of them. Like you’d do with a food journal, you can now jot down your emotions, making them more real and palpable, and therefore more manageable.
Related Reading: 9 Ways To Practice Mindfulness In Intimate Relationships
Meditation, too, could help quieten your mind and make you see things with greater clarity. Struggling with how to control your emotions in a relationship can make you fuzzy and confused. Take some time for yourself to just breathe and cleanse your mind as you begin your journey to better managed emotions.
- Emotions are simply our reactions to positive or negative events or people
- Every relationship has both positive and negative emotions, and every emotion comes with a lesson
- Being authentic, communicating clearly, and being honest about your feelings are some ways you can better manage your emotions
So, if you’re constantly asking yourself, “Why am I so emotional in my relationship?”, remember that you’re not alone. We all battle to express our emotions in a healthy manner and unlearn years of conditioning and repression that tell us one or the other emotion is too much or too little. And that every relationship has emotions beyond happiness. Show yourself and your feelings some love. You’ve got this.
Practicing a balance of emotions in a relationship ensures that you don’t put undue stress on your own emotional health, or your partner’s. When you react with extreme emotion to everything, it makes mountains out of molehills, leaving you and your partner exhausted and resentful.
Identify and accept your emotions, no matter how negative or overwhelming they may seem. Remember that every emotion is valid and that even the happiest relationship does not mean that you’re happy all the time. Anger, resentment, jealousy, and so on are part and parcel of every relationship.
Understand that not every situation requires an intense reaction. If you feel like you’re about to explode, give yourself space and time and practice things like mood journaling and meditation. Remember that emotional outbursts impact people around you and could deeply hurt your partner and your relationship.