Are we functioning from affective responsibility?
Let's see what affective responsibility consists of and how it is expressed in our relationships with others.
How many times have we heard expressions such as "I am like that, I already knew myself", "I am just being sincere" or "we are nothing, we have no commitment"? These are some common samples of interactions in which the person who says them has a lot of chances to be to be functioning outside of their affective responsibility..
What is affective responsibility?
Although the concept of affective responsibility can be complex to define, it could be easily understood through the expression "to take charge". A person will be functioning from a high affective responsibility when you take charge of the emotional impact and expectations that your interactions are generating or have generated in the other people with whom you relate, have related or will relate in the future. with whom you relate, have related or will relate in the future.
Thus, operating from this formula could range from honestly communicating to a job candidate that he or she is not the profile we are looking for (instead of showing positive feedback and never calling), to telling a person that we do not feel the same way about him or her after a period in which we have been getting to know each other.
Affective responsibility is applicable in any interaction in any area of our lives; however, it is especially relevant in the area of the couple (regardless of whether we are in search of a partner, have noncommittal affairs, form a long-term monogamous stable couple, have built a polyamorous unit, or want to break a bond).
To give us an idea, some examples of low affective responsibility include ghosting, having several affective relationships at the same time without the other person's knowledge, hiding relevant information about our feelings about the relationship, or not being clear about the rules of the relationship we share. or not being clear about the rules of the relationship we share.
Thus, taking charge of the bonds we generate, accepting and understanding that our interactions generate emotions and expectations, even if they are not reciprocal, and functioning with empathy, consideration, assertiveness and active coping are the basis of the apex of good treatment, which is affective responsibility.
In addition to the concept of empathy, there is another concept that can help us understand what it means to be affectively responsible: the process of mentalization. That is, keeping our minds in mind. When apart from our mind with its emotions, thoughts and needs, we also have the minds of other people on the radar, we will be on the way.
- You may be interested in, "How to start using Mindfulness against stress?"
Applying affective responsibility to relationships.
A maxim of affective accountability is to be clear and consistent with our intentions and emotions. Transferring to the other people with whom we relate what we feel and what we do not feel, managing our emotions so as not to be lurching in our positioning and thus, being able to destabilize the other person or persons with our doubts or our unresolved management process; and above all, not saying one thing and then doing another, are fundamental keys.
So, does operating from affective responsibility mean that we cannot change our mind? Not at all, of course we have the right to change our minds. Taking responsibility will only require that we do not justify acting in any way without taking into account the impact this may have on the other person.
Undoubtedly, affective responsibility has a lot to do with communication.. When we are clear and honest about what we feel, want and need, we are undoubtedly on the right track. But let us not confuse sincerity with unfiltered communication or sincericide, since in that case, we will not be "taking charge" and therefore, we will not be functioning from an authentic affective responsibility.
An important key to keep in mind is the difference between affective responsibility and taking responsibility for the emotions of the other people with whom we are connected. The main difference is that when we take responsibility for other people's emotions, the focus of attention is on the other person, we disconnect from our own needs and emotions and prevent the other person from managing him/herself from an approach of condescension or overprotection; however, when we operate from affective responsibility, the approach of the dynamics is horizontal, the other person is given full management and decision-making capacity, and the focus is (also) on our own emotions and needs.
There are many authors who indicate that only when we are affectively responsible can we generate stable, satisfactory bonds based on good treatment, and the reality is that a relational functioning based on affective responsibility brings us closer to empathy, mutual care, honesty, consideration, assertive communication and relational horizontality, as opposed to the one-sidedness, lack of clarity, manipulation and hierarchization of bonds that we approach in the opposite case.
Some say that today we function with less affective responsibility than ever before. I will simply say that people make decisions that define us every day, and that this is a very good criterion. and that this is a very good criterion to take into account in order to build good treatment, coherence and well-being in our relationships, whatever they may be.
Author: Diana Lozano López, Sexologist and General Health Psychologist M-24562.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)