How to Be Emotionally Responsive To Benefit Yourself and Your Relationship

As a preschool teacher, I find myself engaging with children with an emotionally responsive manner. This may look like offering hugs, lending an ear, and lots of talking, but in reality it's a lot more than just that.

Emotional responsiveness is not just for kids. It can benefit many different relationships including family, friends, or intimate partners. Being emotionally responsive can take a lot of practice, but in the end can be so rewarding and helpful.

Being emotionally responsive can be broken down into three different aspects:

  • Accessibility – staying open to the other person when doubts surface

  • Responsiveness – tuning into the other's emotions and responding dependably

  • Engagement – being emotionally present and available


How can one be accessible, you may ask? Simply by being there physically for the person shows your accessibility. Being able to give the other person all of your attention, without distractions and being able to emotionally be open shows your accessible. Come home from work frustrated and exhausted? Can't seem to calm those big emotions? Although you may be there physically, emotionally you are not ready to hear your partners words. Listening is the biggest major key. Not just hearing the sounds coming out from the other's mouth, but actually listening and hearing the words, the feelings, coming from the other. Being accessible allows the other person to connect with you emotionally, helps them feel safe and vulnerable, and makes them feel valued. By giving your ears and eyes to this person, you will keep them from feeling lonely and shut out.


Responsiveness means I look at you, hear you, feel you, and respond in loving and affirming ways. With the simplicity of technology and instant text messages, the world has seem to fallen into "I read your message but forgot to respond." This can cause a partner to feel alone, unheard, and very isolated. A way to show your responsiveness is by unplugging and giving the other person your undivided attention. Then, after hearing all of their thoughts and concerns, you respond in an affirming tone. "You let me know.... and it would be helpful if....".By creating a responsive relationship, you are allowing the other person to feel comfortable enough to lean on you. Responsive partners can strengthen the bond and connection between two people, allowing each to feel safe. And remember, if you don't know what is happening between you two, it's time to try to know more.


Engagement simply can be turning to each other throughout the day or week and catching up. Hear what is meaningful to the other. This helps the pair build trust. It can help the partner understand you care about their joys, hurts and fears. Engagement shows you are accessible and sincerely trying to respond to your partners needs. This shows and builds connection. This type of connection, built over time, forges a safe haven and secure base in any relationship and creates peace and strength which is unique and necessary among human relationships.

The confidence evolved from a deep emotional connection has a healthy ripple effect through a person's whole life. There is nothing quite as reassuring as being able to trust a partner you can confide in, who knows your heart’s deepest longings for companionship and understanding. This can be said for marriage, parenthood, or friendships.

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