‘We are in danger of forgetting how lasting love works’

Everyone knows IQ and EQ. RQ, our relational intelligence, rarely rings a bell. However, it is the key for those looking for a lasting relationship, says professional matchmaker Annemieke Dubois in her latest book. RQ for singles

In her dating agency Jade & Jules love match maker Annemieke Dubois (46) is professionally involved in the anatomy of love. What makes two people fall for each other? What does it take to keep them together? IN RQ for singles, her latest book, she gathers 25 years of relationship insight. ‘The world is becoming more and more unstable, and so is our relationship. We are in danger of forgetting how lasting love works. ‘

What do you mean by the concept of relational intelligence?

Annemieke Dubois: ‘It involves a combination of different skills: introspection, regulating emotions, communicating about it and building trust. Unlike the IQ and the EQ, you build the RQ by two. You can communicate openly and honestly about your insecurities. If your partner flirts with someone else if he or she fails to adjust the behavior or have a proper conversation about it, you are still nowhere. Relational intelligence is about knowing what you are looking for in a relationship, being able to express it and daring to choose to let go of something if necessary. ‘

‘It’s wild how schools focus so much on learning language and math, but how we completely ignore human relationships. Relationships and feelings are still taboo in school. There we teach our children to believe in adventure: a relationship that does not last forever is by definition failed. That, of course, is nonsense. It is time that we learn to talk openly about such things and how to regulate these emotions. Education should play a role in that. ‘

Getty Images

‘Many people expect love to fall from the sky deus ex machina’

Never before have there been so many ways to get off the street. Yet the number of singles is increasing year after year. By 2060, about half of Belgian households will consist of one person. What happens?

‘Online dating has made our relationship much more superficial. Based on three words and a picture, we decide if anyone is worth the effort. Either we avoid the depth or are too lazy to look for it. However, many of our former partners would not have had any chance of such a dating app. We are not very relationally intelligent in that area. ‘

“I think it also has to do with the identity economy we live in and the expectations we project to our partners. We want an intellectual click, chemistry in bed and a spiritual connection. It is quite demanding and it fits the way we are looking for happiness maximization in all areas. If we learned to approach it a little more modestly, we would feel less restless.

Can you also see that in your practice?

‘In my practice, I see three trends in the way a partner is sought. There are people who think very little about what exactly they expect from a relationship – and therefore not about what they themselves have to offer. When I talk to them, I notice that a little reflection has gone before. They expect love to fall deus ex machina out of the blue. The second group is diametrically opposed to this. These are people who arrive with a list of demands from here to Tokyo. In either case, the chances of disappointment are the same. Knowing what you want while keeping your eyes open is the art. The last group, the people who are confident in life, who know what they want and what they have to offer, can do it very well. They also end up in a lasting relationship faster. “

Getty Images

‘Fear is the biggest saboteur in relationships’

In your book, you state that about half of those over the age of 35 struggle with attachment problems. How did it happen?

Attachment problems can arise in childhood, through adolescence or from previously broken relationships. Rejection, cheating or other problems can make you feel insecure later in life and protect your heart. In my practice, I see a lot of fear. Fear of separation, fear of commitment, fear of choosing, fear of failure and so on. Social media nurtures this fear. We are just a click away from other lures. An error occurred faster than you think. Fear is the biggest sabotage of relationships, especially if you fail to communicate about that fear. ‘

Imposter syndrome is a well-known concept in the workplace, but it is being seen more and more in relationships. What does it mean?

‘Anyone starting a relationship after the thirties may already have some relational baggage. Several exes have already been reviewed with both partners. Thanks to social media, the old lovers are very easy to track down. The danger is that you start to compare. Is he or she more successful, interesting, beautiful or creative than me? Before you know it, you begin to nurture your own insecurities and question yourself. What does he or she really see in me? Would he or she like to see me? In such moments, it is important to realize that everyone has a past. And that your partner is with you today because your relationship has a future. Try to shift focus to the positive things, and build from there. That, of course, is easier said than done. Emotions are not rational. ‘

‘People with and without a relationship should show a little more empathy for each other’

In a healthy relationship, there is a fine balance between autonomy and surrender, you write. But that surrender also involves addiction. And let it be something that together we seem to resist as a society.

‘Addiction has actually become a bit of a swear word. Still, it is an illusion that it can be avoided in a relationship. In love, there is an eternal tension between freedom and connection, both of which are necessary for a relationship to succeed. After a few years, there is definitely a compromise between the two. I think it’s important as a couple to continue exploring these two values, whether or not it’s within your own couple’s territory. Relationships that are too secure risk falling into the rut. In very free relationships, passion can lead to destruction. Ideally, you will find a middle ground in this together. ‘

The front page of your book says that it is intended for singles, but you explicitly emphasize that the choice not to enter into a conventional relationship is also legitimate. Should we as a society look differently at this ever-growing group of people without a steady partner?

‘I think it’s absolutely important that people with and without a relationship show more empathy for each other. As a single, you go through very different processes than as a couple. I recently had a woman on the phone in my practice who pointed out that she has hardly been invited to dinner since her divorce. As a bachelor, you can suddenly become a threat, or people think that one extra person at the table is just not that interesting. And as a single, one can sometimes be judgmental about couples’ lives, especially if they are not very social. I think we still have some way to go in that area. ‘

Annemieke Dubois, ‘RQ for singles’, from Borgerhoff & Lamberights22.99 euros

Leave a Comment