The Importance of Emotional Integrity in a Relationship

Beyond emotional intelligence, lies emotional integrity. It's an important dimension for building happy and lasting relationships.
The Importance of Emotional Integrity in a Relationship
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 29 August, 2023

Emotional integrity in a relationship involves honesty and the ability to relate to your loved one in a sincere and respectful way. Indeed, firm adherence to the recognition of your partner’s feelings, without judging them, along with knowing how to control your own egoisms, outlines a mature and satisfactory relationship.

Unfortunately, many people lack this dimension or only exercise it sporadically. Integrity is linked with the ability to act correctly in accordance with certain values. A person with integrity is respectful and sincere and takes morally correct action, whatever the circumstance. However, this practice in the emotional field is a little different.

Honesty is linked with emotional regulation and with a more intimate respect for yourself and above all, for others. It means validating your partner’s needs, knowing what you feel, and expressing it with courage and respect, even if these emotions are painful or complicated.

scene to represent emotional integrity in the couple
An individual can be a person of integrity yet lack emotional integrity.

Emotional integrity in a relationship

It may seem contradictory, but you can fall in love with a person of integrity who doesn’t practice emotional integrity. This is because the two are unrelated. For instance, someone might be loyal, disciplined, congruent, respectful, noble, and responsible. Yet when they feel hurt, angry, frustrated, or scared, they might hide it.

In fact, as humans, we have an almost innate tendency to hide what we feel. Curious as it may be, this is intensified in many relationships. For example, you may suddenly get angry about something specific and not tell your partner. You simply wait for them to discover it. Or, perhaps you avoid arguments as you don’t know how to handle stress. You might even project it onto them.

There are many kinds of recurrent and immature behaviors that often occur in relationships. For instance, you may be a brilliant person who always does the right thing on a social level but, in a relationship, you act with the emotional intelligence of a three-year-old. So, let’s see what it means to know how to practice emotional integrity.

Emotional integrity is extremely fragile. There are times when you can regulate it better, and more complicated moments when it’s difficult for you to exercise it in a healthy way.

What you feel doesn’t always determine your behavior

Emotional integrity is directly related to respect and self-respect. If you always let yourself be carried away by what you feel, you’ll tend to often act impulsively. It’s easy to regret your decisions and actions when you’re motivated by negatively valenced emotions.

In a relationship, authentic respect is exercised by being able to regulate the more complicated emotions. Just because they love you doesn’t mean you can dump your daily frustrations on your partner. Emotional integrity involves self-control. This is something you must learn as soon as possible.

Difficult situations aren’t avoided, they’re resolved

One thing sure to cause distance in a relationship is when one of the partners avoids difficult situations. Indeed, some people simply prefer to avoid problems. Others run away from arguments and prefer to let time pass so that matters hopefully resolve themselves.

Practicing emotional integrity in your relationship means knowing how to reach agreements, listen to your partner, propose solutions, face any difficulty between the two of you, and not evade or place any responsibility on them.

Being consistent between what’s said and done

Research conducted by the University of Michigan (USA) highlights the importance of congruence in emotional integrity. They suggest that having partners who are always consistent with what they feel, think, and do, gives us confidence and makes us feel secure.

So, if you have a partner like this, you feel calm because you assume that you’re with someone who, under any circumstances, will always act in the same way. On the other hand, an unpredictable person, who does the opposite of what they say and tells you things they don’t mean, doesn’t possess emotional integrity.

Woman enjoying her partner
People who are consistent with what they think, feel, and do, provide security and a sense of calm because they’re not subject to impulsive behavior.

Emotional integrity means practicing honesty

Honesty in a relationship means being sincere and revealing your deepest feelings to your partner. It involves explaining your most confusing and painful emotions to them, even if it’s difficult for you and you struggle to find the right words.

This isn’t easy because you might believe that it’s better not to share your fears with your partner. Maybe you’re afraid of showing your vulnerability, speaking with an open heart, and revealing yourself as you really are. You may fear not being understood or being misjudged.

However, if you want to build a meaningful, sincere, and happy relationship, you must make use of this type of integrity. It’ll inject well-being and authenticity into your relationship. It’s well worth a try.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Chen, W. L., & Liao, W. T. (2021). Emotion Regulation in Close Relationships: The Role of Individual Differences and Situational Context. Frontiers in psychology12, 697901.
  • de Silva, Padmasiri. (2018). Emotional Integrity and Resilience. 10.1007/978-3-319-97514-6_11.
  • Landa, I., & English, T. (2021). Variability in state authenticity predicts daily affect and emotion regulation. Emotion. Advance online publication.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.