A.R.E. You Emotionally Connected?

Based on the work of Dr. Sue Johnson - the founder of EFT, the basis of a lasting, loving relationship lays in this question. We need to be present and accessible with ourselves and our partners in order to obtain that deep, meaningful connection.

Emotional connection relationships communication engaged accessible responsive


A.R.E. is an acronym developed by Sue Johnson, the founder of Emotionally Focused Therapy.  A.R.E. EFT are the 3 items needed to creating a secure and safe attachment base in relationships.

Accessibility: Are you accessible?

Accessibility in your emotional connection means staying open to your partner when you have insecurities or doubts. An important part of being accessible to your partner is understanding your own emotions. If you don’t address and understand your emotions, they will inevitably build a block between you and your partner. In order to learn how to identify your emotions, you need to pay attention to the physical sensations that are happening. Pay attention to where they are happening as well (increased heart race, tight chest, heavy stomach, sweaty palms). Take note of the intensity and duration of these sensations. What thoughts are occurring during this time? When you understand and confront your emotions, instead of suppressing them, you open yourself up to connecting with your partner and being able to read their relationship and attachment cues.

How do you show your partner you are accessibleHow does your partner show you they are accessible?

Responsiveness: Can I rely on you to respond to me emotionally?

This responsiveness means accepting and placing a priority on the emotional signals your partner conveys and sending clear, comforting and caring signals to your partner. Responsiveness means tuning in to each other’s emotions and attachment needs. You want to show your partner you are there for them to both celebrate the good and support them during the bad.  Pay attention to your partner’s hopes and areas of fulfillment, and especially their insecurities and fears. Why do they feel this way? What is leading to these emotions and attachment insecurities? What leads to your partner feeling safe and secure? Sensitive responsiveness both touches us emotionally and calms us physically. Be present with your partner and listen actively. When we know we have someone who is there to support us and celebrate with us, we feel relaxed and can let our guard down.

How do you show your partner you are responsiveHow does your partner show you they are responsive?

Engagement: Do I know you will value me and stay close?

Emotional engagement is a unique and special kind of attention that we give only to our closest loved ones. This engagement is our longing gazes, our soft touches, lingering smiles, kind gesture… those special things that we do just for our partner. Engagement is important to remind your partner how much they mean to you, it helps both of you feel safe in your relationship. Being engaged shows your partner that they are not alone. It shows that you value and appreciate your loved one. Having an engaged partner allows you to feel safe in taking emotional risks.

How do you show your partner you are engagedHow does your partner show you they are engaged?


Remember to be vulnerable enough to ask your partner, “ARE you there, are you with me?”, and pay attention to when your partner needs you to remind them that you ARE there for them.  If you are looking to improve your relationship, start couples counseling today.  For San Diego Couples Counseling, give us a call!  We are happy to help you create A.R.E. EFT in your connection.


Article by Sarah O’Leary, AMFT#123449 (supervised by Jennine Estes, LMFT#47653)

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Sarah O'Leary

I am captivated most by the importance of relationships and emotions and how they impact our everyday lives. Both relationships and our emotions help shape who we are as a person. "Relationship" doesn't just mean partner, but rather connections of all kinds. This means everything from strangers, to friends, to partners, and most importantly, the relationship you have with yourself. Emotions are what underlies our thoughts and behaviors, they are the key to understanding ourselves.