How to Be Emotionally Stable in a Relationship: 15 Ways
In This Article
“Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions.” Author Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love reminds us that emotions can rule us if we let them. How to be emotionally stable in a relationship means finding space from those emotions.
What does it mean to be emotionally stable in a relationship?
How often have you seen couples arguing with both trying to be right? When was the last time you were angry because things didn’t meet your expectations?
Did you then blame it on your partner or did you reflect on what you could do differently?
In reality, most of our relationship problems come from us. This is why how to be emotionally stable in a relationship starts with you.
As psychiatrist David D. Burns explains in his podcast on his interpersonal model, most people don’t want to face their dark side to understand how it impacts their relationships.
So, what does stability mean in a relationship? It’s when two people are willing to look internally and change themselves first. Moreover, they support each other through that change.
The work can be painful but it’s also highly rewarding because you’ll gradually start not just understanding the “emotionally stable” meaning but also embodying it.
Consider the American Psychological Association’s definition of emotional stability: “predictability and consistency in emotional reactions, with the absence of rapid mood changes.”
From this, you can conclude how to be emotionally stable in a relationship. Essentially, you need to face your triggers, fears and core beliefs to liberate yourself from your thoughts and emotions.
As you do, you free yourself from over-attaching your happiness to external events and people, including your partner, and become more open to taking life.
5 signs you are in a stable relationship
To know how to be emotionally stable in a relationship, you must first appreciate what this looks like. The main takeaway is that there are no games and no power play.
On the contrary, those in a stable relationship nurture a good balance between the needs of each individual and those of the couple.
1. You each take responsibility for your emotions
How to be emotionally stable in a relationship means owning your emotions. In short, you don’t blame your partner for how you feel.
You take this one step further for deep stability in a relationship and you decide what to do with your emotions. Will you problem-solve, self-care or simply accept them as part of life?
Related Reading: 10 Emotional Needs You Shouldn’t Expect Your Partner to Fulfill
2. Both of you talk freely about emotions
Emotional stability in a relationship happens when both can share their feelings. It’s worth noting the difference between emotions and feelings at this point.
As a counselor explains in this article on the difference between emotions and feelings, emotions are the physical sensations within your body. This could be anything from hunger to heart palpitations.
On the other hand, feelings are the stories the mind creates to explain emotions, whether consciously or unconsciously. So, if you experience hunger, you might subconsciously reach for the fridge.
Similarly, your subconscious might tell you to be anxious because you had a heart palpitation. Perhaps it was nothing and just your heart doing its thing.
To be able to connect with both emotions and feelings and to articulate them takes practice for everyone. You’ll note that stable people have taken that time and have usually helped each other along the way to learn how to be emotionally stable in a relationship.
3. Conflict is an opportunity for exploration
Once you know your emotions and how they impact your thoughts and vice versa, you can approach conflict with curiosity. This contrasts sharply with someone who doesn’t understand why they’re angry and blame their partner.
Instead, how to be emotionally stable in a relationship means owning your emotions and where they come from while exploring your partner’s emotions and how you impact each other. The conflict becomes a learning opportunity to improve yourself and your daily habits as a couple.
4. Compassion and mutual respect are the core
The big difference between compassion and empathy is that, with compassion, you appreciate that we are all human. We make mistakes and that’s how we learn how to be emotionally strong in a relationship.
As Dr. Krisin Neff explains in her article on the three components of self-compassion, once you connect to this common humanity, you no longer isolate yourself when things go wrong.
This creates stability in a relationship because you support each other while accepting each other for who you are.
5. Communication isn’t about “I”
There are many ways to communicate; it all depends on your intention, whether conscious or not. Everyone carries baggage and old wounds; sadly, this impacts communication because baggage and wounds often push people to try to prove something.
In contrast, stability in a relationship involves “us” communication. With that approach, it’s about co-creating dynamic stability in a relationship such that both feel valued and heard.
Related Reading: The Importance of Communication in Relationships
How to deal with an emotionally unstable partner
While how to be emotionally stable in a relationship starts with you because you are the only part you can change, you do have some influence over your partner. If they are struggling with their emotions, give them space and time.
You can also try to encourage them to talk about their emotions. Start by sharing your emotions first to show them how it’s done, but remember that listening is the most important part of creating emotional stability in a relationship.
As you listen, make sure you validate their feelings and don’t give them opinions. In this conversation, it doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong. What matters is their experience.
Finally, if you’re still struggling with how to be emotionally stable in a relationship, perhaps you can steer them towards going to a therapist either separately or together.
15 ways to be more emotionally stable in your relationship
Read these next points to know how to be emotionally stable in a relationship. Although, keep in mind that this isn’t something that just happens. It takes patience and effort with yourself first.
1. Get to know your triggers
Learning how to be more emotionally stable starts with understanding what sets off your emotions. When triggered, we subconsciously jump back to a painful moment in the past, often as children.
Moreover, once triggered, we are stressed and flooded with intense emotions, whether fear, anger or sadness. If you want to start managing those emotions, you must go to the triggers’ root cause.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to unpack the past. It just means you must start befriending your emotions to learn how to be emotionally strong in a relationship.
2. Befriend your emotions
In other words, how to become more emotionally stable means embracing your emotions. As this article on “name it to tame it” explains, when we label our emotions, they lose their power over us.
The worst thing you can do is bottle up emotions and then suddenly explode at your partner. Instead, name them and you can even talk about them together to further help you process them.
3. Don’t believe your thoughts
Perhaps the most challenging part of how to be emotionally stable in a relationship is to stop believing your thoughts.
As psychologist Steven C. Hayes details in his article “stop believing your unwanted thoughts,” there are some easy exercises you can practice to start distancing yourself from your thoughts.
As you create distance with your thoughts, the emotions that go with them will also feel less intense such that you can manage them better.
Related Reading: 4 Tips on How to Get Rid of Negative Thoughts in Relationships
Watch this video to learn more about creating distance from your emotions as you continue to explore what is emotionally stable for you:
4. Be curious about your partner’s reality
How to become emotionally stable also means letting go of your drama. The mind loves scenario-planning and dragging you into a whirlwind of stories.
Simply stepping out and being curious about someone close to you can help put a pause on all those thoughts. As you do, your emotions dissipate, empathy increases and you start connecting more deeply.
5. Let go of the “me, myself and I” mentality
Stability in a relationship is about letting go of power games. We all play games in life as we try to get our needs met.
Nevertheless, how to be emotionally stable means letting go of self-interest so that you can move into teamwork that moves you together towards a higher goal.
6. Visualize being your partner
How to be emotionally stable in a relationship means understanding that we are all human and we all make mistakes. So, rather than fall into blaming, try to do an exercise where you imagine being your partner.
To do this properly, spend at least 5 minutes writing about a particular situation but from their point of view. Use “I” as you write as them and embody their thoughts and emotions.
Changing perspectives is a great check against your emotions to ensure you’re seeing reality and not just what you want to see. In other words, what is emotionally stable, if not the art of managing multiple viewpoints serenely?
Related Reading: 20 Steps to Becoming a Supportive Partner
7. Reframe conflict
Most people never learn proper conflict management, so they either ignore it or yell at each other. Neither approach can help you with how to be more emotionally stable.
Instead, review psychiatrist David D. Burns’ useful framework to guide you: the Five Secrets of Effective Communication.
While using empathy, I-statements and inquiry, among others, is useful, it can be hard to change your approach. In that case, you might also want to explore this marriage course online.
8. Learn to accept that life is hard
The foundation for how to become more emotionally stable is to accept that life is hard and to set our expectations accordingly. When we do that, we’re less likely to react when things don’t go our way.
9. Be attentive and appreciative
Getting caught up in our endless internal chatter of problems is so easy. Nevertheless, how to be emotionally stable in a relationship means creating distance with that chatter.
A great way to do this is to really notice what your partner is saying and how they feel. What thoughts and experiences are they going through?
Moreover, how can you show appreciation for their struggles? The more you do this, the more you’ll open up to each other and move into a supportive dynamic with nothing to prove.
Related Reading: 10 Things to Do if You Feel Unappreciated in a Relationship
Another way to think about how to be emotionally stable in a relationship is to ask yourself whether you truly appreciate each other for who you are, including yourself.
So, do you set excessive standards for each other or are you happy to allow things to go wrong? Furthermore, the more you can value yourself, the less you fear rejection or humiliation.
A good starting point for acceptance is to make a gratitude list of all the things you appreciate first in yourself and secondly in your partner.
11. Clarify boundaries
An important part of being emotionally stable is respecting your boundaries. Essentially, they are ways to honor your values and beliefs about relationships.
These can include personal privacy to money and deal with extended family members.
Related Reading: 6 Types of Boundaries in Relationships & How to Maintain Them
12. Create a healthy lifestyle together
The basis for how to be emotionally stable is a healthy heart and mind. Consequently, you need to get enough sleep and eat the right food.
As this psychotherapy page on the Effects of Junk Food on Mental Health explains, junk food inhibits our happy hormones and can lead to anxiety, depression and stress.
13. You are not your emotions
In the same way that you are not your thoughts, you are not your emotions. To believe otherwise is to become fused with your emotions with no hope of managing them.
Instead, how to be emotionally stable in a relationship is about creating distance from your emotions. As a psychologist explains in his “cognitive defusion” article, you can start by changing your language.
So, rather than saying, “I’m a failure,” change it to “I’m having the thought that I’m a failure.” Alternatively, “I’m angry” becomes “I’m experiencing anger.”
The more you practice, the more you’ll bring balance to your emotions.
14. Practice gratitude
As mentioned, gratitude is a powerful way to become emotionally stable. Moreover, it helps create positive emotions that can counteract your negative ones.
15. Be present
Finally, and most importantly, we become emotionally unstable when our minds spend too much time in the past or the future.
That’s why a powerful technique for how to become emotionally stable is mindfulness. In short, the more you focus on the now, the less you’ll worry about what could be or what wasn’t.
Related Reading: 10 Ways of Being Present in a Relationship
Some commonly asked questions
Here are answers to some questions that can help give you some clarity about being emotionally stable in relationships:
What does emotional stability in a relationship look like?
What does stability mean in a relationship if not balance, focus and serenity? It doesn’t mean negative emotions don’t happen but are just part of the relationship flow.
Furthermore, the relationship has healthy boundaries where both practice assertive communication and are willing to talk about emotions. Overall, both partners have a balanced outlook on life with a deep sense of gratitude and the ability to let the little things go.
How essential is emotional stability in a relationship?
If you consider the “emotionally stable” meaning as being able to stay calm when facing challenges, then, yes, it’s fundamental. Without it, you risk miscommunication, lack of trust and insecurity. This doesn’t lead to happiness.
In a nutshell
Everyone can learn how to be emotionally stable in a relationship, but each will have a different journey. Some might need a marriage course online, and others might be able to learn some techniques, such as mindfulness and conflict communication.
Either way, you owe it to your relationship and also to yourself to work on your emotions. Then, with emotional stability comes peace and the perspective to deal with all challenges. Life becomes more manageable and enjoyable.
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