The term “affective responsibility” is in vogue. However, many claim to practice this dimension when, in reality, they do so in an erroneous or misrepresented way. Do you want to know what this important area in any link really consists of?

How do you feel in your relationship as a couple? You are happy? If you don’t have an affective bond with anyone right now, look in the rearview mirror of your memory. What went wrong in your last relationship? Was it communication, trust, commitment? The truth is that if we put most of our failed love affairs under a microscope, we would discover that there is a common trigger.

Affective responsibility is that matter that not all of us master adequately . And be careful, this more or less latent ineptitude is appreciated not only in the sphere of a couple, but also in that of friendships and family relationships. Emotional injustices arise from not calibrating how our attitudes and behaviors affect the people we are supposed to love.

There are many who gravitate in the affective territories in an autonomous and individualistic way . They expect the other person to adapt to them, who fits into their corners, into their gaps and infinite edges. Behind the “is that I am like that” there is a great deal of selfishness and deep depressions in emotional immaturity; those that lead to disaster in any relationship.

It is important to talk about affective responsibility in times of ghosting , fragile ties and love that is born from mobile applications. Now, indeed, it is easier than ever to meet an infinite number of people, but what is no longer so easy is to find lasting love.

Meeting the emotional needs of the other does not mean giving up or neglecting our own. It is necessary to find that middle ground in which each one is capable of taking care of the other while respecting himself.

Without adequate affective responsibility we will never build a healthy relationship.

What is affective responsibility?

Having an adequate affective responsibility means, above all, knowing how to respond to the needs of the loved one, knowing that each of our actions has an impact on the other. In this way, to combine the language of respect and affection, one must pay special attention to communication, empathy and care for the bond.

As is evident, not everyone has this ability to respond in the field of relationships. And if you don’t have it in this space, you more than likely don’t have it in any kind of relationship. Because affective responsibility is basically nourished by two key aspects: emotional intelligence and interpersonal respect. 

If we have not grown up with valid parental and educational models that have taught us these two areas from a very young age, it is difficult to establish such relational value. As the philosopher Tom Roberts explains to us in a study, people have an obligation to take responsibility first for the proper management of our emotions, because they have a clear impact on our relationships.

Let’s see what pillars build affective responsibility.

Affective responsibility is one of the most effective tools we have to navigate these more complex, uncertain and challenging territories in any relationship, be it as a couple, friendship, family, etc.

1. Empathetic and assertive communication

Respectful, empathetic and sincere communication is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship. Therefore, knowing how to address the other person implies taking care of the message and the way in which it is expressed. It is not necessary that we measure to the millimeter everything that we want to express, something like that would be exhausting, there is no doubt.

It is just about creating an adequate relational harmony in which the dialogue is fluid, aimed at reaching agreements and avoiding reproaches. Communicating is building, it is creating an intimate space of respect where trust flows.

Likewise, an obvious antidote to ghosting behaviors (leaving a relationship without saying anything) is undoubtedly applying this principle of responsibility and respect. Something like this implies, in all cases, knowing how to express at all times what one feels and what the needs of each one are at all times.

2. Respect for the relationship, regardless of the type of relationship and its status

We may be in an open relationship with someone, and in which it has become clear that we do not want a firm commitment. We may even find ourselves in a difficult moment and the break is close. Affective responsibility requires respecting the other person in any type of bond built with them, and in all circumstances (both in good times and in crises).

If we have agreed to an open or polyamorous relationship, for example, respect and care are essential to shape a healthy bond. But, affective responsibility is also a priority.

Think, for a moment, about how you want others to treat you. That is the best starting point to understand what affective responsibility is.

3. Establish agreements and understand that all behavior has an effect

A relationship is not a company, but it is a team and as such requires agreements and internal rules. Affective responsibility implies knowing what the limits and needs of each one are. Something like this requires negotiations and commitments that, far from being evaded, must be clarified as soon as possible to create a relational map that guides us correctly at all times.

Also, despite having that guide and those agreements, interpersonal conflicts and differences will arise when we least expect it. The person responsible in affective matters understands that knowing how to respond to those critical moments in a mature way is essential. It is then that we need that well-calibrated emotional compass that will guide us to successfully navigate those days of ups and downs.

4. The commitment to take care of the relationship

Affective responsibility implies understanding that there will be difficult times and that, instead of disappearing, we will choose to stay and work on that relationship. Committing ourselves to someone does not mean repeating to them every day that we will love them forever, it means making them see that we will take care of that bond with affection, dedication and courage. Without giving up at first.

Affective responsibility is not emotional dependence. Each member of the couple must first be responsible for her own emotions.

What it is not to be responsible in affective matters

At this point, it is very likely that more than one will say that “yes, I am a person with a good emotional responsibility.” The truth is that they are pillars that are easy to understand, they are ideas that we like and whose music already sounds familiar to us, but that is not easy to carry out. Although it is hard for us to believe it, many of us understand the theory and fail in practice.

Therefore, it is important to do a brief review of what affective responsibility is not:

  • You are not responsible for absolutely everything that your partner feels and happens to. Many times, although our communication, attitude and behavior are the most respectful and caring, the other party may not be happy. There are multiple factors beyond our control.
  • Affective responsibility does not mean neglecting my needs to prioritize those of my partner . If there is an element that defines this dimension, it is balance, equality and reciprocity. Love is not sacrifice, love is growth.
  • Being emotionally responsible does not make you emotionally dependent. The way the other person feels should matter to you, but not determine you to the point of invalidating you. Each member of the couple is, first of all, responsible for their own emotions . From her. He attends and regulates them for their own well-being and, later, to achieve a good coexistence with others.

To conclude, few relational and coexistence crafts are as important as those referring to this dimension. We should all sharpen, improve and strengthen the pillar of relational responsibility and our emotional intelligence much more.

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