9 mistakes people with low emotional intelligence make in a relationship

Ever found yourself in a relationship that felt like an emotional roller coaster? One moment, you’re up in the clouds, and the next, you’re plummeting back to earth, completely bewildered.

I’ve been there, gripping the safety bar, wondering why love has to be so complicated. 

What I’ve come to realize is that emotional intelligence — or rather, the lack of it — often plays a starring role in these dramas. 

In this article, we’ll explore 9 common mistakes people with low emotional intelligence make in relationships. 

Buckle up; this could be the guide that changes your love life.

1) Not listening

We’ve all been in conversations where we can tell the other person is just waiting for their turn to speak. 

In relationships, this is more than a mere annoyance; it’s a red flag signaling low emotional intelligence. 

Listening isn’t just about being quiet while the other person talks. It’s about giving them your full attention, understanding their viewpoint, and validating their feelings. 

When you’re with someone who doesn’t listen, it can feel like you’re talking to a wall. And this lack of active listening creates a gap that no amount of love can easily bridge. 

Relationships are a two-way street, and if one person isn’t tuning in, you’ll find yourself at a dead end before long.

2) Being overly critical

Constructive criticism is one thing, but constant nitpicking is an entirely different ball game. 

When someone is overly critical in a relationship, it’s like living under a microscope — every move you make, every word you say, is scrutinized and judged. 

I’ve been in this position myself, unfortunately — so I can say firsthand that over time, this kind of behavior erodes self-esteem and creates a toxic atmosphere. 

Often, the critical person doesn’t even realize the impact they’re having; they may think they’re helping or even showing love by “improving” you. 

But love isn’t about molding someone into your idea of perfection; it’s about accepting them as they are while encouraging them to grow. 

3) Holding grudges

We’re all human, and mistakes are inevitable in any relationship. 

While it’s completely normal to feel hurt or disappointed at times, holding onto these emotions like a collector of resentments is a mistake often made by those with low emotional intelligence. 

When you’re with someone who holds grudges, past mistakes are never truly buried; they’re like time bombs that can explode at any moment, derailing present-day interactions and spoiling future plans. 

The inability to forgive and move on creates an environment of tension and mistrust. 

You find yourself walking on eggshells, fearful that a simple mistake could reopen old wounds. 

Love is about growth, learning, and moving forward, together. Holding grudges stagnates this progress, trapping the relationship in a loop of negativity and tension.

4) Ignoring their partner’s needs

Imagine being in a partnership where it feels like you’re giving 100%, but getting back half in return. 

It’s exhausting and leaves you questioning the relationship’s value. 

People with low emotional intelligence often overlook their partner’s needs, either because they’re not tuned in or they’re too focused on their own desires and concerns. 

This is not just about forgetting anniversaries or failing to pick up on subtle hints. It’s about a fundamental disconnect, a failure to prioritize the emotional and even physical well-being of the person you’re supposed to care about most. 

In a balanced relationship, both partners are attuned to each other’s needs — whether it’s a need for space, emotional support, or even just a helping hand around the house. 

Ignoring these needs is like pulling a thread on the fabric of your relationship; do it often enough, and the whole thing starts to unravel.

5) Poor conflict resolution

Conflict is a natural part of any relationship. It’s how we handle these moments of discord that sets the tone for a healthy or unhealthy dynamic. 

Someone with low emotional intelligence often struggles in the conflict resolution department. 

Whether it’s sweeping issues under the rug, exploding in anger, or giving the silent treatment, poor conflict management creates a thick layer of unresolved problems and emotions between partners.

I’ve experienced my fair share of all these things with my ex — and now that I’m with a highly emotionally intelligent man, I can really see what a huge difference it makes.

Because a healthy relationship thrives on open communication and the ability to compromise. But when you’re with someone who lacks these skills, conflicts tend to either escalate or fester. 

Both scenarios are damaging and prevent the relationship from moving forward. 

6) Emotional outbursts

Emotions are complex and can be difficult to manage, even in the best of times. But frequent emotional outbursts are often a hallmark of someone with low emotional intelligence. 

Instead of communicating issues or concerns in a calm and rational manner, they’re prone to letting their emotions take the driver’s seat, leading to explosive arguments, dramatic scenes, or teary meltdowns. 

While it’s natural to have strong emotional reactions to certain situations, a lack of emotional control can be incredibly destabilizing in a relationship. 

It creates an atmosphere of unpredictability where you feel like you’re constantly walking on a tightrope, unsure when the next emotional eruption will occur.

Such emotional volatility can make it hard for a relationship to thrive, as it disrupts the emotional safety net that both partners should ideally provide for each other.

7) Lack of empathy

In a relationship, empathy is more than a buzzword — it’s the glue that holds two people together through thick and thin

It’s the ability to understand your partner’s feelings and perspective, even if you don’t fully agree with them. 

However, those with low emotional intelligence often struggle with this essential quality.

A lack of empathy can manifest in various ways: dismissing your partner’s feelings, belittling their experiences, or simply failing to show any interest in their emotional well-being. 

The absence of empathy turns what should be a loving relationship into a one-sided emotional affair.

Without empathy, it’s difficult to have deep emotional conversations, resolve conflicts amicably, or even enjoy the simple pleasures of companionship. 

Empathy enriches our emotional landscape, and without it, a relationship can feel barren and unfulfilling.

8) Not apologizing when they’re wrong

Apologies are more than just saying, “I’m sorry.” They’re an acknowledgment of wrongdoing, a display of humility, and a step toward making amends. 

For those with low emotional intelligence, this process can be especially challenging. Whether it’s from a place of pride, stubbornness, or sheer oblivion, failing to apologize when wrong creates a toxic environment in the relationship.

This behavior not only perpetuates conflicts but also undermines trust and respect. 

It sends the message that being right — or appearing to be right — is more important than the emotional health of the relationship. 

The longer this pattern persists, the more it chips away at the foundation of mutual respect and understanding that every relationship needs.

If the cycle of wrongdoing without apology continues, it can lead to a breaking point where the emotional account of the relationship is in constant deficit. 

Realizing this mistake and rectifying it is crucial for a relationship’s long-term survival.

9) Keeping score

In a relationship, love should never feel like a competition. 

Yet those with low emotional intelligence often make the mistake of “keeping score” — meticulously tracking what they’ve done for their partner versus what’s been done for them. 

This tit-for-tat approach turns the natural give-and-take of a relationship into a tally board, where gestures or acts of love are only done in expectation of something in return.

This mindset creates a transactional atmosphere that can stifle the spontaneity and genuine affection that are hallmarks of a loving relationship. 

It turns every disagreement into a list of grievances and every act of kindness into a bargaining chip.

If you find yourself — or your partner — keeping score, it’s a sign that the relationship is drifting away from emotional connection and toward a more transactional, less fulfilling dynamic. 

In a healthy relationship, love is freely given and received without the need to even the score.

The road to emotional intelligence: a journey worth taking

The landscape of love is complex, and it’s easy to stumble if you’re not equipped with the right emotional tools. 

Recognizing these common mistakes is a significant step toward fostering a healthier, more fulfilling relationship. 

But let’s be real — it’s a journey, not a destination. Emotional intelligence isn’t something you acquire overnight, and it’s okay to have bumps along the road.

If you or your partner are making these mistakes, don’t lose hope. Awareness is the first step toward improvement, and now that you know better, you can do better. 

Relationships are a two-way street and require both parties to grow, adapt, and most importantly, understand each other’s emotional landscapes.

It might be tough at first. You might even need to have some difficult conversations. But remember, your emotional well-being, and the health of your relationship, are worth it. 

Take the time to work on these areas, and you’ll find that your relationship — like your emotional intelligence — has room to grow, enrich, and bring joy to both parties involved.

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

10 signs you’re an ESFJ, the most caring and empathetic personality type

If you can relate to these 8 things, your life is more fulfilled than you realize