How Emotional Sensitivity And Reactiveness Can Impact Your Relationship

Ally Villar
·4-min read

No relationship is perfect. We’ve all had our fair share of ups and downs and unpleasant fights. But all of this emotional sensitivity is part of how a relationship grows. It’s also a process of getting to know one’s partners more deeply.

Whether you’ve been together for a decade or a year, there’s bound to be a few bumpy roads in between. Interestingly, it only eventually helps to strengthen your bond not just with yourself but also with your partner. 

As humans, it’s natural for us to be overwhelmed with our emotions and sometimes lose control of it, especially when we’re angry. Which is why once we do get a grip on our feelings and handle arguments with a clear mind, we understand our partner’s side better and develop a stronger bond.

According to a recent study, understanding emotional sensitivity and reactivity can further improve relationships as well as sexual satisfaction. 

Emotional Sensitivity And Reactivity Greatly Affects Our Relationships

emotional sensitivity
emotional sensitivity

Image Source: iStock

For the study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, researchers looked into data collected by the Flourishing Families Project which is a longitudinal study conducted from 2007 to 2011 of families with children between the ages of 10 and 14 years old.

With this, they analysed 334 married heterosexual relationships and how emotional sensitivity and emotional reactivity or cutoff influences these couples. 

To put it simply, emotional reactivity is one’s level of emotional sensitivity to stressful events or the intension to overreact. Emotional cutoff, on the other hand, is when we disconnect from difficult or stressful situations.

  • Researchers found that these two factors were able to predict relationship satisfaction as well as sexual desire a year later.

  • They also found that women had greater emotional reactivity while their husbands tend to have a greater emotional cutoff.

“For women who are emotionally reactive, this might look like being hypersensitive or over-reacting to a difficult situation and this was associated with decreased relationship satisfaction for her,” said by study author Amber Price, according to Psypost.

“For men who are emotionally cutoff, this might look like using the silent treatment, becoming defensive, or avoiding emotional connection when times get hard. This was associated with decreased relationship and sexual satisfaction for him as well as a decrease in relationship satisfaction for his partner,” Price added.

Price also clarified that “Though certainly not all men engage in emotional cutoff and not all women are emotionally reactive, it is important to work towards greater emotional regulation as a way to help improve relationships.”

Tips To Handling Fights With Your Spouse

emotional sensitivity
emotional sensitivity

If there’s a problem that’s been bothering you, don’t hesitate to talk it out with your partner | Image Source: iStock

While it’s inevitable for you and your spouse to have disagreements and not be on the same wavelength with each other, there are ways to handle such conflicts. These simple ways can help you better communicate instead of simply yelling or walking out. 

1. Try not keeping things to yourself when something upsets you. If there’s a problem that’s been bothering you, don’t hesitate to talk it out with your partner. Remember, holding on to it will only make you angrier and make things worse for you both. 

2. Be fair. Once you do open up, make sure that you are also fair to your spouse and address the issue as clear as you can so you can solve the problem.

3. Avoid bringing up past arguments. Talking about incidents from the past will only add fuel to the fire. So stick to the topic you are currently disagreeing on and respect each other emotional sensitivity.

4. Give your spouse your full-fledged attention. While in a discussion with your partner, avoid distractions and keep your focus on what your partner is saying. This ensures that there are no misunderstandings and you get to solve the problems more effectively. 

5. Hold each other, physically. It would also benefit the both of you, if you held onto each other’s hands while discussion your issues. This encourages comfort, ensuring you aren’t hurting each other emotionally. 

With reports from Sandra Ong


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