Discover what emotional responsibility is and build healthier and happier relationships

It is important to know what emotional responsibility is, especially if you feel that in your relationships there is not enough communication and mutual care.

are you one of those people who suffer from not being able to express what they feel? It is likely that this is due to the lack of emotional responsibility, which is very important for a good performance in relationships, friendship and family.

If you seek to base your bonds on dialogue, respect, empathy, mutual care and choosing a learning path, you will know how important it is to be affectively responsible.

In this post we will show you what affective responsibility implies, so it will be easier for you to develop and establish healthy and honest relationships. We will also address its importance and talk about how this concept helps you deal with relationships today.

what does affective responsibility mean?

Affective responsibility is a way of understanding interpersonal relationships that is based on taking care of the feelings and emotions that are born within the framework of a relationship.

According to the Medium portal, it is about being emotionally aware of the impact of your actions on others. It is only by being affectively responsible that we can create lasting and, of course, healthy bonds. To talk about the importance of emotional responsibility, we must start with empathy, which is more than putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes.

Before delving into the concept of affective responsibility, think about how you expect and want people to treat you in the different relationships in which you participate in your life; it can be in a couple relationship, in a friendship and even in the family.

With this question in mind, let’s see what affective responsibility is with the help of the definition proposed by the television program Diálogos en confianza of Channel Eleven of the National Polytechnic Institute of Mexico:

“Affective responsibility is to be clear, respectful and empathetic with what the other may feel. [Although affective responsibility is not exclusive to couple relationships] In a loving bond we cannot be selfish and think only of our own pleasure, the healthiest thing to do is to establish agreements that both of us respect”.

Now, if we analyze what affective responsibility is with this definition, we will know why it is so complicated to be affectively responsible in the different relationships in life.

Let’s see what aspects are involved in being affectively responsible.

responsabilidad afectiva en parejas

Source: Pexels

what does emotional responsibility entail?

Unfortunately, and it must be said openly, in many relationships we assume that any action or expression is okay, so we forget that there will be things that will bother or hurt others. Basically, we underestimate that any action will have a consequence, so lack of affective responsibility is a factor that can erode a relationship.

In essence, when asking ourselves about what affective responsibility is, we need to understand some fundamental aspects:

Understand that a relationship goes beyond oneself: putting selfishness aside and being empathetic is fundamental. There is another person involved, with its virtues and defects, so you must learn to deal, in the best possible way, what it means to share with another being.

All relationships have conflicts: we are all entitled to make mistakes. But something essential to understand is that, being affectively responsible, you must take responsibility for your actions, be able to ask for forgiveness and also to forgive the other. Although this cycle should not be endless because, if so, you could be dealing with what we know as toxic people.

Takecharge of your emotions: basically, it is to understand that you cannot blame the other person for what you feel. You have to understand where those feelings come from and what they mean to you.

comunicación con responsabilidad afectiva

Source: Pexels

what is not emotional responsibility?

As we mentioned before, talking about what is affective responsibility does not only include couple relationships. Any type of bond can be affected, such as your ties with:

Family members.



Within the framework of this concept, we must also clarify what is and what is not affective responsibility. This concept is often misrepresented, so it is essential to clarify a few things.

Affective responsibility is:

Communicating or expressing our expectations and feelings about the relationship.

Establishing limits, mutually, with the intention of maintaining respect for each other.

Mutual care.

Understanding the weight of our actions and how they affect each other’s lives.

Maintain good communication. Especially if we are going to discuss an issue that bothers us.

With this in mind, we must understand what affective responsibility is not. This way we do not make mistakes (as far as possible), when establishing bonds with the other.

Affective responsibility is not:

Invalidating the other person’s emotions and preventing them from expressing them.

Going beyond the established limits.

To behave in a way that leads the other person to be deluded with possibilities, when we do not intend to get involved.

Believing that the other person must guess what we feel, need or think.

Keeping relevant information related to our feelingshidden.

If you feel that you are incurring in any of these last actions, it is time for a review and to rethink the way in which you are handling the bond with the person you love. And, although emotional responsibility is not something that works from one day to the next, applying it constantly in your daily life will help you to sustain better ties with others.

Some people tend not to show their feelings and emotions, until they reach a point where they can’t stand it anymore and explode; as a result, conflicts and fights are generated. In this sense, it is essential to know how to be affectively responsible, so let’s go to the next section!

how to be affectively responsible?

Now that you know what emotional responsibility is, it is time to learn how to put it into practice and enjoy relationships based on trust, respect and mutual care.

To be affectively responsible, you must strive to improve some things in your relationship, so we will tell you what are the signs that indicate that in a couple, a friendly relationship or a family group there is affective responsibility.

1. Assertive communication

We have already mentioned it before, however, we have to do it again; assertive communication is one of the most important elements to exercise affective responsibility. We know that nowadays, it is complicated to express what we want, what bothers us, what we feel, among many other aspects; however, speaking directly, clearly and honestly, is the solution to prevent and overcome conflicts.

If you master the most effective assertive communication techniques, you should have no problem expressing yourself clearly in any situation.

Persona con responsabilidad afectiva habla con pareja

Source: Unsplash

2. Establishing agreements

No matter what relationship you are talking about, agreements are the best way to overcome problems and conflicts. In the case of affective responsibility in a couple’s relationship, one way to apply it is by establishing what is allowed and what is not through dialogue.

Let’s think of a couple in which one party does not agree or feel comfortable with public displays of affection, yet the other party continues to do so because he or she does not know of this discomfort, since his or her partner has never expressed it.

In this case, an example of affective responsibility would be that, at the beginning of the relationship, the two parties (or whatever parties they are) take the time to talk about their needs and establish the necessary agreements to have the healthiest relationship possible.

If we think about it better, the affective responsibility is very similar to a negotiation process, in which, by means of communication, an agreement beneficial for the parties involved is reached.

With all this, we intend to emphasize how important it is to maintain communication in the different types of relationships. Undoubtedly, dialogue is the best way to know what another person needs and to communicate what we want.

responsabilidad afectiva relación de pareja

Source: Pexels

3. Understanding that a relationship consists of more than one person

As we saw, when knowing what affective responsibility is, in any relationship there should be no room for selfishness, that is, it is necessary to forget the idea that oneself is what matters most and start considering others. In this regard, psychoanalyst Adriana Ortiz Barraza, in the program Diálogos en confianza, explains:

“Indeed, affective responsibility has to do with empathy, but empathy has to do deep down with breaking your narcissism and understanding that there is an other.”

On the other hand, our teacher Maia Mazar, from the conflict management tools course, explains that empathy (the ability to put yourself in the other person’s place) is a tool for solving problems:

“When we cannot reach a solution, a technique that is very useful is to think about what is happening to the other person. What we can do, in this case, is to think about what is happening to us and what the other person is thinking”.

4. To be clear that any relationship will have complications

Affective responsibility implies committing oneself to people and understanding that, inevitably, there will be complicated moments and that does not mean we are going to disappear.

The best thing to do is to act responsibly and face those problems through communication and the establishment of agreements.


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5. Consider that any action will have a consequence

This point of affective responsibility encompasses all the previous ones. Keep in mind that any word and action will produce a reaction in the other person, therefore, it is essential to know how to be empathetic and stop to think if what we are doing affects others.

Do not think that affective responsibility implies acting in a perfect way, because it is impossible. It is about acting and speaking with empathy and respect, establishing agreements (through dialogue) with the purpose of respecting others and, in case of making a mistake and provoking a conflict, being responsible and assuming the consequences.

The goal of affective responsibility is not to make the other person suffer and involves taking responsibility for what we might cause in others, whether family, friendship or partner.

emociones en responsabilidad afectiva

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Importance of affective responsibility

Now that you know what affective responsibility is and the main points to assume affective responsibility in your different relationships, the next step is to know why it is important to talk about and start exercising this way of acting.

Mainly, affective responsibility will help us to face and overcome conflicts with other people, because we must be clear, conflicts will not cease to exist; however, affective responsibility seeks to solve and overcome them.

In this context, our teacher Maia Mazar indicates that conflict is not negative, but rather, it should be seen “as an opportunity” to develop skills to manage it.

In addition, knowing what emotional responsibility is will help you to better manage your emotions and feelings. Little by little your capacity for assertiveness and empathy will develop, which will help you to be more stable as a person.

Obviously, we cannot assure you that being affectively responsible will free you from emotional pain. This is a reality that is always present, but, if you know how to be emotionally responsible, you can handle problems and difficult situations in a better way.

Likewise, affective responsibility allows you to help those closest to you to deal with their problems and, thus, to accompany them in an affective way.

do you understand how important affective responsibility is in all kinds of relationships? Becoming a better human being, more empathetic and understanding, isn’t that a good goal you would want to reach?

Pareja con responsabilidad afectiva comunicándose

Source: Pexels

Affective responsibility in today’s relationships

Before we finish, a question: is affective responsibility really being exercised in our present day? In a world that has advanced so much in technological and scientific matters, could it be said that it has also advanced in human and interpersonal matters?

Speaking exclusively on the subject of love and relationships, we must say that the themes of monogamy and marriage dominated the collective imagination for a long time (at least in traditional Western thought). However, with the social, cultural and even economic changes that have taken place, we find that the way in which people establish their bonds has been completely transformed.

Let’s see what aspects affect affective responsibility today:

1. Dealing with “what are we?”

Currently, there are forms such as “casual relationships” or “open relationships”, which have been assumed as new ways of relating to each other, being a valid alternative to traditional couple relationships. We know that they have always existed, but now these variants seek to be understood, so the need to reflect on them has arisen.

And this is where affective responsibility comes in. This concept, as we already know, serves to make you consider that every bond has implications for the people involved, regardless of the name we give it or the time we remain in that relationship.

For this reason, regardless of the “title” you have decided to give to your relationship, the most important thing is that you both agree on the basis of that link, are aware of what you want and maintain good communication, without incurring in false promises and deceptions .that way you will be able to make any kind of bond you establish with others work.

Pareja besándose

Source: Unsplash

2. Ghosting

Believe it or not, there is a relationship between what is affective responsibility and ghosting. However, what links the two terms is that they are complete opposites.

As we mentioned earlier, the advancement of new technologies has brought benefits to many people. But, inevitably, they have changed the way we communicate, offering us multiple possibilities. And it is in this context that ghosting arises, the termination of an affective relationship, unilaterally (without the need to warn or offer explanations).

The person who is willing to break the link does so only to avoid facing the breakup, so he/she decides to block any kind of contact with his/her partner. This situation only reflects a lack of communication and care for the other person, without taking into consideration the feelings of the other, believing that just by disappearing he/she will break any kind of link.

The basics of affective responsibility contradict this practice. It is about being able to deal with the breakup in a sincere way in which, even though it may be painful for the other person, the desire to end the relationship is communicated with great respect.

3. The romanticization of the bond

If we have learned anything, in recent times, it is that love is not only in heterosexual and monogamous bonds. There are thousands of ways of loving others that go beyond the “better half” story, so knowing what affective responsibility is is essential to understand the dynamics of current relationships.

Romantic love, as an idea, sounds very good. However, it is necessary to abandon this idea and stop idealizing the other person as that human being who will solve all our affective problems, since you will only be burdening this figure with expectations.

Affective and loving bonds do not imply being indebted to another person, or even expecting him/her to behave the way you want. that person is an independent being, with its virtues and defects, so only by understanding this and maintaining a basis of respect and communication, you can sustain a healthy relationship.

It is not about expecting the other person to do “what you expect from him/her”. It is about loving and accepting the other as he/she is and, although eternal love or “for life” cannot be guaranteed, you will be able to maintain a healthy bond, in which responsibilities and commitments are assumed by respecting emotions (your own and others).

Pareja abrazándose con amor

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Books to learn more about emotional responsibility

One of the best ways to learn what affective responsibility is and understand the implications it has for a person and their interpersonal relationships, is by consulting specialized literature on the subject.

For that reason, in this part we want to share with you a small selection of books in which effective responsibility is discussed. In addition, with them you will be able to know more deeply some examples of affective responsibility in couple, and you will discover which are the keys to have a relationship in which communication, honesty, and mutual respect are the main thing.

These are not the only books with which you can learn how to have affective responsibility, however, they are the best with which you can start, and they will surely be very helpful to change things and start relating to the people you love in a more loving, respectful and responsible way.

Pareja lee libros de responsabilidad afectiva

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Let it be good love: why affective responsibility is key in your relationships

This book on affective responsibility explains, in a very detailed way, how to start developing relationships in which love is “the good kind”, that is, relationships in which the people you share with care about what you think and feel.

This book was written by Marta Martínez Novoa, and as its subtitle says, it will help you to know why affective responsibility is fundamental in your relationships as a couple, in friendships, or with your family members.

The author of this book is based on the idea that for a relationship to be fair and for the people involved to feel good, it is important to build a good foundation in which affective responsibility is the main thing.

Likewise, the idea of the book is that you learn to identify the signs that indicate that a person is not being affectively responsible with you, that you discover how to deal with the lack of affective responsibility, and that, in general, you develop the necessary tools to have relationships in which love is really love.

Libro Que sea amor del bueno

Source: El Corte Inglés

I Love Me, I Love You: A Guide to Developing Healthy Relationships

Having healthy relationships can be complicated, especially because we do not know how to establish limits of respect, and because the lack of affective responsibility is a widespread problem in our society.

Having a guide to develop healthy relationships and have emotional responsibility is more than necessary, and this book by María Esclapez aims to fulfill that task. if you want to learn how to have affective responsibility, this is one of the books you should have in your library.

Esclapez’s main idea is that you can identify relationships that hurt you, that you know what affective responsibility is, and that you can develop your self-esteem to set your own limits and start having relationships that you feel comfortable with.

This book, from experiences of its author, will give you examples of effective accountability, and give you tools so you know what to do in the moments when you feel vulnerable within a relationship.

Libro Me quiero, te quiero

Source: Amazon

The Little Book of Love

It may seem ambitious to write a book that talks about how love works, and how to develop affective responsibility to improve one’s relationships. However, this book fulfills that purpose and is a good reference for those who want to learn from what affective responsibility is to how to apply the concept within a relationship.

It is abook written by Ángel Rielo with the purpose of explaining some concepts related to love. This author even talks about the concept of love, the different types of love that exist, and the link that exists between affective responsibility and relationships between people.

Likewise, Rielo recommends a series of very useful tools for those who wish to learn how to have affective responsibility and how to have healthy relationships. This work is also ideal for those who wish to build a couple relationship that overcomes the barriers of romantic love, especially, because it has some tips with which you can avoid the most common problems of polyamorous relationships, for example.

El pequeño libro del amor

Source: Amazon

The love contract: tools for women who negotiate in a relationship

When we talk about what is affective responsibility, we talk about that one of the most important tools to develop it in a relationship is communication, however, not everyone knows how to communicate assertively.

Coral Herrera Gómez, understands this problem, and that is why she writes this book, with the purpose of providing women with tools to communicate and negotiate fair agreements within a couple relationship.

The idea, as with the other books on affective responsibility that we have discussed, is that you develop your knowledge and skills to relate to others, and that you can build relationships in which equality, respect and love are the main pillars.

The book has several examples of affective responsibility, and some exercises with which you can begin to develop a better relationship with yourself, with your partner, with your friends, and with your family.

Libro de responsabilidad afectiva

Source: Amazon

A matter of limits

If you already know what affective responsibility means, you understand that the best way to have a relationship that respects what you think and feel is to set boundaries. When you don’t allow a person to treat you unfairly, and you make it clear what you expect from a relationship, other people can act in a more conscientious way.

Nedra Glover Tawwab, the author of this book, explains the consequences of not setting boundaries and being in a relationship with a person who is characterized by a lack of emotional responsibility. In addition, she teaches some techniques with which you can develop self-esteem and learn how to set healthy boundaries in relationships.

If you not only want to know what affective responsibility is, but you want to go deeper into the subject and understand how to apply this concept to your life, this book can help you.

Libro de límites y responsabilidad afectiva

Source: Amazon

Affective Manipulation

Finally, we want to share with you a work with which you can learn what are the characteristics of a relationship in which there is a lack of affective responsibility. This book is ideal for people who feel that they have entered a stage of vulnerability within a relationship, and do not know how to get out of it.

The idea is that you learn what are some of the dogmas that have been established around love, and that you discover tools with which you can break them to have healthy relationships, full of love and affective responsibility.

Libro de manipulación afectiva

Source: Kobo

Sometimes, in order to have a relationship in which all the precepts of affective responsibility are fulfilled, it is necessary to know how to establish clear limits. Of course, this doesn’t happen most of the time, mainly because we don’t take the time to clarify things and talk about what’s important.

But now that you understand what emotional responsibility is, and that you have some supporting texts to back up your ideas, you can begin to set boundaries and build relationships in which you feel that love and respect are paramount.

Now that you know what affective responsibility is, try to put it into practice in the different relationships in which you are involved. We know that it is not easy, since all relationships involve difficulties and conflicts, which will be worth handling and overcoming, if you are really interested in a relationship.

You already have the advantage of knowing why emotional responsibility is important, but in order for you to learn how to deal with conflicts when exercising emotional responsibility, we invite you to our Lifestyle courses, with which you will be able to manage any kind of conflict in a healthy, efficient and constructive way. we wish you the best of luck!

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