here’s syllogism: being intelligent doesn’t automatically make you a responsible person, therefore, being emotionally intelligent doesn’t automatically make you an emotionally responsible person. thorndike (1986) defines emotional intelligence as the ability to understand others and to act wisely. can this relate to emotional responsibility. for instance, are you being emotionally responsible when you understand and act wisely towards another person. would you be violating this understanding/wisdom if you left someone because you now understand them, and so, acted wisely by leaving. by leaving would you have handled your emotions wisely. goleman (1998) defines emotional intelligence as the ability to be aware of and to handle one’s emotions in varying situations. he claims that emotional intelligence includes such things as empathy, motivation, self-awareness, self-regulation and social skill. so, would you have abandoned your responsibility to this person – or abandoned this person by leaving. does emotional responsibility have anything to do with abandonment. for instance, when someone stops being in a relationship with you, has the person abandoned you or left you. using thorndike and goleman’s assertions, has the person left because he/she has changed after reassessing the situation and thought the wise thing to do was to leave, or has the person abandoned you because you are no longer what you were when the promise was made. before going any further, let’s get one thing clear, though the focus here may be biased towards romantic love, emotional responsibility in this post does not only relate to what happens between lovers.
what does shakespeare mean when he writes, love is not love, “which alters when it alteration finds, /or bends with the remover to remove.” is he talking about emotional maturity or a caveat for those who feel abandoned in a relationship – “remember you said you love me, why are you changing? what is abandonment – is it the feeling that you have been left by someone. if this is your definition, you might want to rethink it. abandonment is about leaving people we are responsible for – your child, an old or sick person – people incapable of being responsible for themselves, someone/people you have agreed to take care of. someone/people you should have the emotional responsibility to live up to the emotional commitment you made to them. the point is, as a fully functional person, another person can leave you but he/she cannot abandon you. yes, i said it. why. how can someone abandon you if they haven’t promised to be responsible for you. responsibility is a moral value at the ontological level – it means being responsible to others and doing personal and social tasks in its best way, here, i imagine a love relationship is a social task. responsibility means acceptability, commitment, and internal incentive to doing undertaken tasks perfectly. underline perfectly. don’t promise for instance, you’ll cook for someone and then three months later you do it with complaint.
romantic love operates on fractals. therefore, as you rush, giddy-headed into a relationship, be careful what things you promise to be responsible for, be careful what love-adrenal rush makes you promise to be responsible for, which when the intoxication dissipates, you have no wish to be responsible for. remember the butterfly effect. love on first sighting is all good, but i always believe, before you commit to anyone, wait just a little bit. there is no need to promise things on first sighting or when your head is still in the clouds. wait. wait for when all initial limbic or amygdala inebriation sates, then make any promise, that is if you must. remember, though it is impossible to sate infinite love, infinite love doesn’t require gratification, and as such generates little anxiety or hostility. infinite lovers are in love with love itself. the same cannot be said for finite lovers. finite lovers are in love with the expectation of what love can bring them. in truth, love shouldn’t be about what we can do for people or what they can do for us – you’re not a charity case, so your lover isn’t a charity case. love should only resemble charity in the act of giving, not in expecting anything back – you don’t give a beggar on the streets money because you want something back … it is a responsibility you carry out unconditionally, the same is true of emotional responsibility.
emotional responsibility in this post doesn’t refer to you being emotionally self-responsible, for instance, coming to the realization that you no longer imagine your emotional states as the responsibility of other people, or things visible and invisible. emotional responsibility here means, making an emotional commitment and being emotionally responsible enough to fulfil it – meaning, your responsibility shouldn’t change because you find alterations in the person to whom this promise is made. that is, it is not emotional responsibility, “which alters when alteration finds.”
let me further break this down. you shouldn’t stop being emotionally responsible for the promises you made to someone or a lover just because he/she has become unloving or uncaring. you shouldn’t stop being emotionally responsible because it has become tiring for you to do so – for this only happens when your commitments suddenly change, when other things begin to distract you. that is, when you accept other responsibilities after you had made this one. that won’t be fair on the person. however, your emotional responsibility can be reconsidered only when doing such has become emotionally self-torturous. remember, whatever we do is our own choice – even choosing to be miserable. so, you can only reassess your emotional responsibility because of you – not because of the other person, not because of changing thing-concepts and not because of group-concepts. never forget, that when you made this promise, you chose to sacrifice your needs against the collective needs of the person to whom you made the promise. i read somewhere that brewster (1977) and karami et al (2004) consider responsibility as a kind of attitude and skill, and like any other attitude or skill responsibility can be acquired or learnt. let me leave brewster and karami and his friends alone for now.
here, i am talking about emotional honesty – your willingness to know and own your feelings. that is, always being true to what you feel. at this level of emotional maturity, you do not hide, repress or suppress what you feel, but you honestly experience what you feel. you are at least honest with yourself about how you really feel despite what you are supposed to feel. this needs being open about what you feel. and telling whoever you have made a promise to why you can no longer fulfil it. that’s why i agree with gertrude stein that love is “the skillful audacity required to share an inner life.” remember, it must be because of your own emotions – not because of the person to whom it was promised, or reasons external to the promise made. to do this you must reach a level of emotional maturity where you have no burden and pitfalls of group-concepts, self-concepts, self-constructs, self-images, and thing-concepts. and this is hard – what with all the nice distractions all around us. hence, the reason to assess your emotional capabilities before making promises in love. but whatever you do, remember rumi’s advice, “close your eyes. fall in love. stay there.” if you can’t do this then be careful about entering the house of love for you are not emotionally responsible.
imagine this: man comes home there is no supper – just the woman.
“you didn’t cook.”
“why. thought you said that’s one way of showing me you love me – that that’s your way of being emotionally responsible to me.”
“guilty as charged.”
“so, no supper means what.”
“means nothing. i am not particularly happy with myself right now so i didn’t cook.”
“and the logic being?”
“i don’t want to cook for you when i’m not in the right frame of emotion to do so. so, if there’s no food then there is no emotion to judge. good night”
“good night as in, i am not having supper? what about your emotional responsibility?”
“man, i just said, no food, so no questioning of my responsibility.”
“but i am hungry.”
“well, i am not responsible for your feeding, i am only responsible for the promise to cook for you. look, whenever you have eaten outside this house, have i ever accused you of not letting me fulfil my emotional responsibility to you? did you quarrel with those people for doing something i am responsible for? you’re quiet. good night.”