How to keep your emotional bank account flourishing

Everyone understands the concept of bank accounts - you deposit money and withdraw it as and when you need it. The goal is to keep depositing to save and spend according to our needs so that we can live comfortably. This applies to another kind of bank account that is not tangible unlike a financial bank account - the emotional bank account.

Emotional bank accounts are metaphors for your relationships and the investment that goes into them. Your emotional bank account (or EBA henceforth) determines how safe you feel around other people, or in this case, your partner(s) and how you work together to build relationships. It is an account that thrives on healthy trust, communication and acts of love and care. In his book titled “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People”, Stephen Covey brought in the metaphor of the emotional bank account. Unfortunately, many of us might go about living our lives completely unaware of the existence of EBA, thus potentially leading to some sour, unhealthy experiences in our relationships.

Just as how you need to keep depositing money into your financial bank account to prevent the balance from going to the negatives, similarly, deposits to an EBA involve positive behaviours that enhance your relationship. Conversely, withdrawals mean negative behaviours or interactions that can jeopardize the trust you have built till then. Consistent deposits build trust and ease communication between you two. It is important to strike a balance between the deposits and withdrawals to keep your relationship going smoothly, and it requires a lot more deposits to ensure the withdrawals do not hurt as much and can be resolved effectively.

Your relationships - romantic or otherwise - are constantly evolving. With these changes comes the need to adapt. Your responsibilities and expectations may keep changing, therefore, to ensure that the two of you are on the same page, communication is key. This is an integral part of investing in one another.

Here are a few things you can do to keep your EBA flourishing:

  1. Be genuinely curious to learn more about them.

Show interest in their likes and dislikes, listen to them talk about their day or why they like what they do. Make an effort to be kind and empathise with them, especially if they are pouring their heart out to you. These little but super important gestures show that you truly care about your partner. By even just being fully present, you are showing them that you are making an effort to learn more about who they are even if you’ve been together for a while.

  1. Use actions and words to show how you care.

This includes doing something nice for them, gifting them something thoughtful, taking up something they had to do but couldn’t because they were exhausted, complimenting them for the things they have done. Being appreciative of your partner fills in the EBA and strengthens your relationship.

  1. Spend quality time and show physical affection.

Even a quick hug before you go about your day makes a difference. Catch up after a long day with a meal together, a movie, or a romantic dinner outside. Make plans to engage with them and give them your undivided attention throughout that time. If your partner enjoys physical affection, you can do little things like holding their hands while walking and talking, or kissing and cuddling with them when they slip into bed.

  1. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Being honest is key. Empty communication, empty promises do more harm than good. Keep up with your promises and commitments, show up when you’ve communicated that you would. Sincerely apologise and take responsibility when you make a withdrawal. You must communicate your needs and desires and respect your partner’s needs and desires. Be emotionally present and support them when they are going through a tough time.

It is in the little things: how you are appreciative of each other, how often you express your genuine thoughts and feelings, how open and comfortable you are around each other even on your dark days. These are what build trust and love between the two of you and ensure that your emotional bank account is never depleted. With this healthy balance, you can ride out any hiccups in your relationship and build something truly magical and long-lasting.

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