Social emotional abilities (i.e., specific skills), defined as the set of cognitive abilities, emotion-based knowledge, and behavioral competencies (i.e., skill levels) that facilitate adaptively employing prosocial processes and behaviors (i.e., “actions”), such as emotional regulation and sympathetic and empathetic response behaviors, is contemporarily modeled and measured as emotional intelligence. This conceptualization can be problematic, however, as the two concepts are not the same and traditional methods of measuring emotional intelligence can have limited practical utility. The social emotional ability development (SEAD) theoretical model introduced in this treatise represents a pragmatic and simplified approach to the development of social emotional ability and competency as abstracted from constructs of emotional intelligence, social intelligence, and sociocultural learning theory. Further, the SEAD model reaches beyond the individual as the unit of analysis to explore, conceptualize, differentiate, investigate, and define the hierarchal, bi-directional, and contextual nature of the dimensions of social emotional ability within close relationships. Implications for how the SEAD model can be used by researchers, practitioners, educators, individuals, families, and couples across a broad spectrum of domains and interventions are discussed.