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The I.C.A.R.E. Relationship Model

The quality of our relationship connections can generally be categorized into five main pillars that form the foundation of a healthy relationship. I have taken these pillars and refined them into the primary components of my (I)C.A.R.E. model. 


I. Investment

  • Routinely check-in with each other and invest in the general health of the relationship. Celebrate the positive then discuss opportunities to further strengthen the relationship.

C. Connection

(ARE you there for me when I need you?)

  • Accessible (Can I reach you? Will you make time for me?) - This means staying open to your partner and being willing to struggle to make sense of their emotions so they are not so overwhelming. You can then step back from disconnection and can become more aware of your partner's attachment needs. 

  • Responsive (Can I rely on you to respond emotionally?) - This means tuning into your partner's feelings and fears. It means placing a priority on the emotional signals your partner shares and then sending back clear signals of comfort and empathy.

  • Engaged (Do I know you will value me and stay close?) Emotional engagement here means that special kind of attention that you only give to a loved one. Maintain good eye contact, demonstrate empathy and use Active Listening to "listen to learn, and not only to respond" as they share their feelings with you. Engaging also means asking your partner: How do they need you to be in the conversation? How can you best support them? The response will either be... (1) I just need to vent, (2) I need us to work together to find a solution, or (3) I need you to solve this problem for me.

A. Affirmation

  • Consistently recognize and affirm that the relationship is important by validating and appreciating your partner’s past life experiences, beliefs, values and opinions.  Express how they enrich your connection, personal awareness and perspectives. 

R. Respect

  • Demonstrate respect for your relationship and for each other's individuality, boundaries, opinions, and beliefs. Don't try to make yourself great by making others look small. Consider your contribution to the situation, withhold judgement, and instead offer the consideration you would like to receive.

E. Empathy

  • Put yourself in the other person’s shoes before acting so you can respond appropriately to the situation. Always give each other a safe place to express true emotions without judgement or condemnation. Acknowledge their pain and show gratitude that they are being vulnerable with you.


This step of introducing you to the basic elements of the (I)C.A.R.E. model should give you some sense of what love and the concepts of positive dependency and emotional connection are all about. 

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