What are the ingredients of emotional connectedness in a relationship?

By Dr. Debra Rezendes, HMT Resident in Marriage and Family Therapy in Northern Virginia

Dr. Sue Johnson, an expert on couple’s emotional connectedness, created the acronym A.R.E. to describe three ingredients that are needed to create healthy, emotionally satisfying relationships. Relationships that embodied accessibility, responsiveness, and engagement tend to have the highest relationship satisfaction and are characterized by high levels of trust and commitment.  

What exactly is A.R.E.?
  • “A” stands for accessibility. How available are you when your partner signals that they need you? How available is your partner when they send out a distress signal? Being accessible to our partner sends the message that we are present and open to meeting their needs.
  • “R” stands for responsiveness. When your partner makes a bid for connection, how responsive are you to that bid? How responsive is your partner when you need them? Recognizing and tuning into our partner’s emotional channel when they signal they need us, lets our partner know that they can turn to us in times of distress, sending a message that they are not alone.
  • “E” stands for engagement. When we feel a high level of emotional engagement from our partner, we feel valued and desired, giving us the message that we are valued and that we matter.
Self-Test Assessment 

Getting a snapshot of our relationship can be a good first step of understanding our emotional landscape with our partner. If you are interested in examining your emotional connectedness with your partner, I highly recommend taking the A.R.E. questionnaire. You can access the questionnaire HERE. 

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