Yay! We’ve looked previously at the spiritual and intellectual aspects. Now, we’ve made it to the “touchy, feely” part of a relationship – the emotional aspect!
Unfortunately, emotional expressions are usually stereotyped by gender. Girls are conditioned to cry when hurt; boys are conditioned to play through the pain. Men are expected to be stoic and tough; women are expected to be nurturing and emotional. It is acceptable for women to talk nonstop, hug at every possible moment, and make group trips to the restroom for more talking. For men, it is acceptable to grunt one or two words, fist-bump or high-five, and make solo trips to the restroom – where talking is forbidden. Add to these differences the hormonal effects of estrogen and testosterone and we encounter the complex world of emotional interaction.
The Significance of Your Soul
The emotional aspect involves your soul. It encompasses your feelings, intuition, and interactive experience with people.
Your soul is the intangible component that enables your desire for connection. Without emotions, you would simply act out the obligatory actions of your daily schedule and personal interactions. But you wouldn’t truly experience or express anything.
Jesus said a good man, out of his heart’s good treasure, reflects good fruit. An evil man, out of his heart’s evil treasure, produces evil fruit. For “out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). What is on the inside comes out. The seed confirms what kind of fruit to expect.
If a person claims to love, yet expresses no genuine emotional response, that love may not be genuine. Or even love at all! Your emotional response generally reveals your true feelings.
Emotional Interaction with the Other Three Aspects
Emotions provide the feeling and sensory experience for the other three aspects. Spiritually, we protect our hearts with all diligence (Proverbs 4:23). Intellectually, we control our thoughts and our minds (2 Corinthians 10:5). Emotionally, we should exercise the same self-discipline. If we do not control our feelings, they will control us.
Think about it. Without emotions, there is no meaningful worship of God. There is no genuine compassion for others. Even worse, there is no true remorse and repentance for sin.
The emotional aspect also is the channel through which the evidence of the Holy Spirit flows (Galatians 5:22-23). Case in point, can you show true love without emotion? Can you demonstrate real joy without emotion? On the contrary, without emotional expression, it is difficult to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.
A mature and balanced emotional aspect provides the freedom for genuine emotional expression. Here again, it is wise to align your feelings and emotional expressions with the moral framework of the spiritual aspect.
There is nothing like the feeling of being in love! But, how would you respond if someone asked you, Why do you feel the way you do? Could you readily identify any practical reasons? Oh, the feelings may exist. But we should always question the motives behind them.
Step back and analyze your feelings. Ask yourself, Are my feelings reasonable, genuine, and mutual? Or are they the result of my spiritual weakness, surface-level attraction, and/or my emotional neediness? Then be bold enough to answer honestly. Remember, your heart often misleads you (Jeremiah 17:9). Since God examines both your heart and mind (Jeremiah 17:10), make sure both are in agreement with His Word.
Romantic feelings in a dating relationship can be intense. So much so that they overpower your spirit and overwhelm your mind. When you are attracted to someone, your emotions affect your physical aspect. If they are uncontrolled, passionate feelings may lead you to do things you later regret.
An emotionally mature person will balance strong feelings with spiritual morality and intellectual reason. Am I going to obey God and stay true to my moral convictions? Will the decision I make honor God or result in guilt and regret?
Paul advised young Timothy to be a positive example for others. This included his words, lifestyle, and purity of conduct (1 Timothy 4:12). Here’s the first clue. You control your sexual impulses by not toying with them. Don’t see how physically involved you can get in a relationship before stopping. God created you to experience passionate, loving feelings. But He intends for you to pursue and enjoy them only within marriage.
How the Emotional Aspect Affects Relationships
The dating phase of a relationship is the perfect time to discover if emotional compatibility exists. Prior to committing to a serious level in the relationship, it is wise to determine if the emotional differences are tolerable or deal-breakers. Here again, never settle for deal-breakers.
When dating someone, observe his or her emotional level and intensity. Then compare it to your own. An ideal mate should be a compatible match to your emotional maturity, intensity, freedom of expression, and needs.
An emotional connection is critical in a relationship. Without it, you risk being frustrated, incomplete, and unfulfilled. You’re much better off to find fulfillment through emotional compatibility. When you accurately identify and achieve emotional compatibility with another person, you truly “connect” with that person.
Emotional Development and Maturity
Emotional maturity takes place as you gain experience from your interactions with people. Here are some ways of demonstrating growth and personal maturity in the emotional aspect:
- Know who you are. Several tools can help you with this. Take a personality test, a spiritual gifts test, or any other reputable questionnaire to help understand who you are.
- Observe the emotional interactions of others. During group social functions, observe the behaviors, interactions, and intensity levels of others. A person may be nice on the surface, but not truly compassionate. Polite, but not respectful. Likeable, but not loveable.
- Control your emotions. Learn when and how to express your feelings as well as when and how to restrain yourself.
- Be comfortable experiencing and sharing heartfelt emotions. Be strong enough to cry. Tough enough to be tender. Confident enough to be humble. Secure enough to be vulnerable. Honest enough to be real.
- Move past dependence and independence into interdependence. Guard against any harmful and premature attachments as well as any self-centered arrogance. Develop the emotional strength to be patient and wait for someone who meets all your expectations and who is compatible in all aspects.
Next time, we’ll pull it all together and look at how the physical aspect enables the other three aspects.