The Emotional Account: Use It To Achieve Fulfilling Relationships


We’re now a few months into the year, and I hope yours has got off to a good start. If you’re struggling with your 2016 resolutions, take a quick look at this post from last year, which will help you achieve your objectives in three easy steps.

But let’s leave our goals to one side for a moment and concentrate on human relationships, especially the ones that are fundamental (or, I should say, essential) to your happiness and well-being.

In this article I’d like to talk to you about a very important account, one that you may be overlooking because you’re not (yet) aware of its existence.

And no, I’m not talking about your bank account (which I’m sure you’re well aware of!).

I mean your emotional account. Don’t know what that is? Keep reading and you’ll find out!

Are you still in love with your ex?relationship_threesixtyskills

To introduce today’s theme I’d like to tell you the story of Joanne (name changed for privacy reasons), 34, who I met before the Christmas break.

There’s something that is troubling her deeply and that she wants to understand how to get over: nine years after the end of their relationship, she still finds herself thinking about her ex-boyfriend.

She assures me that she’s in love with her husband, David. So why is she still thinking about her ex?

Joanne maintains that her current relationship is going very well. However, as she says this she winces very slightly.

I therefore decide to probe further regarding her relationship, to check whether there are things that don’t add up.

As we make our way through the coaching session, I eventually discover that, in fact, her husband has various issues with his family.

This means he is often stressed and irritable, and the resulting tension has negative repercussions on his relationship with Joanne.

Joanne’s relationship with her husband

Joanne confides that she and David have difficulty setting aside time for each other. The time they spend together is mainly spent discussing the issues with David’s family, to the detriment of their own relationship.

This is an extremely frustrating situation. Ideally, Joanne wants the moments she spends with her husband to be light-hearted, carefree and fun, since she considers herself a very lively, sunny person.

As for David, he’s a very serious person who has difficulty unwinding. In Joanne’s own words: ‘He doesn’t know how to be cool.’

At this point I ask her what the connection could be between what she has just told me and the things she loved about her ex-boyfriend.

Ping! Her eyes lit up and it was clear from her face that she’d had a revelation: her ex is cheerful, sunny and fun. He possesses the exact characteristics that she’s looking for right now in her current partner, but isn’t finding.

Could this explain why her subconscious keeps bringing up her ex?

Being aware of your own needsrelationship_threesixtyskills

I help Joanne understand her fundamental need to make time to have fun with David, despite the problems that have been affecting his relationship with his family for years now.

I see a radical change take place in Joanne – an increase in energy. Her attention is now completely focused on how to improve her relationship with her husband.

She’s excited at the idea of being able to do something to change the stagnant situation she is stuck in, and can’t wait to put the theories we have discussed into practice.

The emotional account

Joanne’s story is an example of what happens when you have two emotional accounts that use different currencies. What does this mean?

The emotional account is an account that gets opened automatically every time you interact with someone, whether it’s a friend, a family member or an acquaintance.

In the same way, every time someone comes into contact with you, an emotional account is created for them.

As a result, when you interact with another person, there are two emotional accounts in the balance: yours and your counterpart’s.

For the relationship to function as well as possible, both parties need to pay into each other’s respective accounts.

If one or both of the accounts doesn’t receive enough income, they’ll end up at zero or, worse still, in deficit (when the outgoings exceed the income), and the people involved will suffer. Little by little they will start to notice problems.

On the other hand, when people know how to keep their respective accounts well nourished, giving and receiving in a way that meets their mutual needs, the relationship works and both parties are happy.

Perhaps the parallel between emotional accounts and bank accounts seems utilitarian, but it’s not. Every human relationship involves a transaction, an exchange between what is given and what is received.

What currency are you using?

A word of warning! It can often happen that the currency you want to receive into your emotional account doesn’t match the currency of the other person’s emotional account.

Each person has needs and necessities that are reflected in their respective accounts.

Sticking with the banking theme, if you have an account in euros, you won’t be able to receive Swiss francs, unless they are converted to euros. In the same way, you can’t deposit apples in someone’s account if this person is expecting dollars.

For the transactions to be effective, either the currencies need to be the same, or the bank needs to be able to convert them into the destination currency.

Unfortunately, when it comes to human relationships, the person who owns the account is very often unable to receive and convert a currency that differs from their own.

What happens when the currency is incorrect?relationship_threesixtyskills

Going back to Joanne’s story, at this point she needs the currency ‘fun and understanding’ to be deposited into her emotional account.

As for her husband, he is paying in the currency ‘good listener, supportive and serious’. He has need of this currency in his own account and he receives it from Joanne.

As a result, Joanne’s account continues to be in deficit, since she gives David what he requires but doesn’t receive the currency she needs from him.

What David doesn’t know is that to nourish his wife’s emotional account he has to be able to give her some time for fun and relaxation – a break from the seriousness that has been filling their days recently.

At the end of our session, aware of the different currencies in use, Joanne decides to devise a strategy for communicating her needs to her husband in a way that creates a balance between their respective emotional accounts.

As you can see, the problem was nothing to do with her ex. Her restlessness was mainly due to a relationship misunderstanding and miscommunication between Joanne and her current partner.

To sum up

Being mindful of your emotional account is useful for improving your awareness of what you need, what you’re able to give and what you want to receive from others.

When you find yourself in a frustrating or stagnant relationship situation, try thinking about the currency of your emotional account and that of your loved one’s account.

  • What are you depositing in their account? Is it the currency they are expecting?
  • What are you receiving into your emotional account? Is it what you need?

Finding an answer to these questions won’t instantly allow you to solve all the relationship problems in the world, but it will mean you can clarify a few things and find effective solutions.

Sometimes it doesn’t take much for you to realise that the thing that’s bothering you so much with that one specific person could simply be down to a mismatch in your… emotional account!

So here we are at the end of this article. As always, if you liked it and found it useful, I’d like to invite you to help me share it by clicking on the social media buttons below.

Also, if you haven’t yet done so, why not join the ThreeSixtySkills community on Facebook? There you’ll find further suggestions and tips on personal growth, as well as on improving communication skills and interpersonal relationships.

Best of luck!