Hello all! Long time no type! I recently spoke to a local group about healthy attachments in adult relationships. I felt this info was worth sharing with you all so here are a few "noggin' nuggets" that merely skim the surface of a recent training I completed in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for Couples - created by Dr. Sue Johnson. (She has written many books but "Hold Me Tight" is a good place to start if you want to learn more on this topic.)
One of the most powerful statements I heard during this training was when it comes to conflict in a relationship "the virus is emotional disconnection and the inflammation is the fighting." Thought provoking, huh? Well... Is it the chicken or the egg? Some couples say they don't feel close or connected to their partner anymore because they fight so much. This is where I ask them to flip that thought and think on the possibility that maybe you fight so much because you haven't felt truly emotionally connected to your partner in a long time... THAT is what Dr. Sue Johnson says is the heart of the matter! The deepest parts of you may be doubting where you truly stand with your partner therefore causing you to feel unsafe, unstable and unattached emotionally. That fact alone can subconsciously put you on the defense with each other.
So how can you tell if there is emotional disconnection within your relationship(s)? Well you are in luck... Dr. Sue Johnson shared this acronym below highlighting the three basic needs we assess for within healthy attachments to others:
*ARE you there for me?
-A: Accessibility: Can I REACH you?
-R: Responsiveness: Can I rely on you to RESPOND to me emotionally?
-E: Engagement: Do I know you will VALUE me and stay CLOSE?
The great thing about EFT is that much of it can be used in any close relationship you have in your life. I'm sure many of you can think of your "go to people" in life in regards to these three questions above and the answers are "YES! YES! YES!" I challenge you to turn the tables and ask yourself how your loved ones would answer the "ARE you there for me?" questions about you.
Note: You may feel like you are really trying your best to be a solid "YES!" to all of those questions for your partner and/or loved ones but it just isn't being reciprocated. I often ask my clients in any given situation to focus on the things that YOU can control. Please remember that people can only meet you where they are at emotionally and THAT simply has nothing to do with your own personal efforts to reach them, no matter how hard you try. If this is the case - Keep trying, continue to model the behavior and be as CLEAR as you can be about your own emotional/attachment needs within the relationship. After all, I have yet to meet a mind reader. ;) I leave you with this final calming thought:
"In love you don't have to be perfect, you just have to be there." -Dr. Sue Johnson
Jill Simpson, PLPC
Teen, Adult, Couple & Family Therapist