Do you ever look at relationships on social media and think “why can’t I have a relationship like that?” Do you look at your friends’ relationships and think “how do they make it work.” We often look to others to find out how to be in a relationship or to see if our relationship is a “good” one. How will you know if you are meeting relationship goals?


Answer this question to help you be a good partner or to find a good partner. “A.R.E. you there?”

Dr. Sue Johnson, the founder of Emotionaly Focused Therapy, has done extensive research to find out “What truly makes a relationship thrive?” Dr. Johnson identified that the key to a long-lasting relationship is emotional responsiveness. What emotional responsiveness is and how it works is outlined by the acronym A.R.E. Accessibility, Responsiveness, and Engagement.

A – Accessibility

Can I reach you? Can you reach me? With current technology we have access to loved ones at the touch of a button. Ironically, this “instant access” can cause feelings of frustration when we don’t get a response. “Why isn’t my partner responding to my text; am I not important, they must be having an affair!” This thought, rather than “they must be in a meeting,” refers to what Dr. Johnson calls “primal panic.” This panic causes us to respond with emotional reactivity which can lead to an argument.

R – Responsiveness

Responsiveness is knowing you can rely on your partner to respond on an emotional level to “good” and “bad” situations. Does your partner tune into you when you get bad news? Does your partner celebrate with you when you get good news? The ability to emotionally connect is important in a loving, supportive relationship. It is reassuring when we know we have someone “looking out for us.” It reminds us that we are not alone in the world.

E – Engagement

Engagement tells you and your partner that you are attracted to each other, you value one another, and want to be together. These are the small things that make you feel special. It reminds you that you are valued, and you matter. Understanding your worth is comforting and reduces the sense of “primal panic.”

A therapist can help you build skills to know how to be Accessible, Responsive, and Engaged. These skills do not only apply to romantic relationships. Try applying A.R.E to all those you care for and watch your relationships flourish.

Maggie Rodriguez