How to use affective responsibility correctly

Whenever you bond emotionally with another person, you acquire a responsibility. We tell you why it is so important to take care of the emotions of others and how to achieve it.

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last update: 26 April, 2022

Most people have experienced bonds in which the other only took care of their own wants or needs, disappeared without explanation, offered intermittent interest, and ultimately caused great emotional damage. Even you yourself may have fallen into this type of harmful behavior. To avoid them, it is essential that affective responsibility is developed in relationships.

This term implies being aware that when you connect with others, you acquire a responsibility. It involves understanding that your words and actions impact others, about their feelings, their expectations and their well-being; and, therefore, you cannot lead yourself through life with a selfish and little empathetic attitude.

Affective responsibility should be present naturally. Nevertheless, the individualism that prevails in societies, as well as the great weight that social networks have acquired, have meant that, on occasions, you do not hesitate to go over the emotions of others in order to achieve your own goals. Fortunately, it is possible to improve.

What is affective responsibility?

Affective responsibility is the attitude by which you take charge of how your words, actions and decisions can affect others. Thus, you abandon selfishness and cowardice to opt for empathy, negotiation and sincerity. Being emotionally responsible implies assuming that you have a relevant role in the well-being of another human being and trying to live up to that circumstance.

this responsibility must be present whenever an affective bond of any kind is established: whether in a friendship, in a formal relationship or in a casual relationship. The fact that there is no commitment or future project with the other person does not mean that you can ignore their emotions.

What does lack of affective responsibility look like?

The ghosting It is one of the most common manifestations of affective irresponsibility today.

To better understand this concept, we show you some of the most common examples of lack of affective responsibility below. Take note not to make the following mistakes.


This term, which has become popular in recent times, refers to the fact that disappear from a connection without warning. The person, without giving any kind of explanation, stops responding to the other’s messages and calls, plunging him into a maelstrom of uncertainty and leading him to wonder what he did wrong to be abandoned in this way.

Offer intermittent interest It is also a very common and harmful practice. The person is sometimes charming and totally involved, and at others, cold and indifferent. This greatly confuses the other party who never knows what to expect from that link.


Powered by social networks, there is another attitude that has become widespread lately, which consists of having online conversations with people with whom you never get to meet. The person does this to keep the other in the bedroom, as a second option, but without really being interested in him nor have the slightest care towards his feelings.

Imposition of one’s own desires

The imposition of one’s own desires and needs is one of the clearest manifestations of lack of affective responsibility. In a relationship between two people it is essential to be open to listening, negotiating and finding a meeting point.

Yes the person only looks out for himself, for what he wants, and ignores the needs of the othercan cause significant damage. «This is what it is: take it or leave it», perfectly reflects this selfish attitude in which space is not given to the emotional world of the other.

emotional invalidation

When there is no affective responsibility, the requests, complaints or claims of the other are totally invalidated. If the friend or partner expresses his sadness or his disagreement with the treatment he receives from the other, the person labels him as exaggerated, crazy or demanding. He makes her think that he has no right to feel this way or to expect anything in particular from their bond.

affective neglect

Finally, it is necessary to remember that it is not only about what you do, but also about what you do not do. By connecting emotionally with others, you have to provide them with presence, listening and care. You have to actively contribute to that relationship. If you don’t, you are being careless, selfish and irresponsible.

How to work affective responsibility?

Affective responsibility is essential to establish healthy and solid relationships. However, not everyone knows how to apply it. Depending on upbringing, own fears and personal beliefs, you may need to learn to bond in a more appropriate way. Thus, the following are some keys that you can begin to put into practice.

Listening assertively, negotiating and looking for meeting points are ways of caring for affective relationships and assuming responsibility for them.

honesty and sincerity

The basis for a healthy relationship is sincerity. It is important that be able to determine what you are looking for in the link and what you are willing to offer. Sometimes, to avoid conflict, to avoid disappointing the other, or just for comfort, you tell him what he wants to hear, even if it’s not true. Nevertheless, by not keeping your word, you cause damage and you leave yourself in a very bad place. For this reason, try to always go with the truth ahead.


Honesty without empathy is an act of cruelty, because it is not just about making it clear what you want, but about also contemplate what the other wants and needs. The way you speak to others, the tone and words you use, the space you give them to express themselves too… all these details make a difference.

Thus, you do not have to give in to what the other wants, nor lie about what you expect, but you do have to being able to listen, understand and validate emotions of the other person, even if they are different from yours.

Assertive communication

Assertiveness is the main tool that can help you when applying affective responsibility. It allows you Communicate with respect for yourself and the other personfinding a balance without falling into submission or aggressiveness.

Negotiation and cooperation

A relationship of any kind is always a matter of two. So you have to be willing to see the other’s perspective, compromise, and negotiate; you cannot pretend to impose your criteria. If there is no agreement regarding an issue, it is important to put aside the ego, give value to the other’s opinion and look for a meeting point.

self confidence

In some cases, the lack of affective responsibility comes from low self-confidence. You disappear without giving explanations, you try to impose yourself or you miss the other because you are afraid to face the conflict, show yourself vulnerable or give the other any power over you. However, every relationship involves emotional risk and you should be willing to take it; Otherwise, you will not be able to connect.

Thus, it may be essential build a strong and healthy self-esteem that allows you to consider others without this making you feel weak or at risk.

Affective responsibility is not negotiable

In short, you must understand that being emotionally responsible is not a choice, it is not something you can choose, take or leave. Whenever you relate emotionally to others, you acquire the obligation to take them into account and take care of their emotions; otherwise, you would be using them for your own purposes.

This It does not imply that you should forget yourself, always give in or take responsibility for the happiness of others.. But you do have to be empathetic, aware and consistent with your actions. Thus, if you think that you have not been acting correctly so far, remember that it is never too late to make a change.

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