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How to Build a Romantic Relationship

When the weather turns cold, how often do our thoughts turn to being at home cozy on the couch, fingers laced around a warm drink, the dog at our feet? But what if, once again, you’re on that couch alone? Worse, what if you’re married, but your spouse avoids such an intimate setting with you?

As despairing as you may feel if you find yourself perpetually alone or if the intimacy has gone out of your relationship, hope is at hand. A powerful self-help method known as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT or tapping) has proven effective in helping people develop lasting romantic relationships.

Romance Tips

EFT implements elements of cognitive therapy and exposure therapy along with acupressure in the form of fingertip tapping on 9 or 12 acupuncture points (thus the name “tapping”). Research shows that EFT can alleviate or eliminate the symptoms of a range of distressing conditions, including PTSD, depression and anxiety, eating disorders, and physical pain.

EFT is simple to learn and use. Here’s how it works. You focus on an upsetting event or physical pain (the exposure element) while tapping (acupressure) and saying a statement of self-acceptance (the cognitive element). Then you continue tapping, while repeating a phrase that sums up your event or pain, which keeps your focus on it. The tapping sends a calming signal to your brain. That signal of safety sent by your fingertips tells your brain’s stress machinery to disengage. In this way, the conditioned association of the event or pain with the stress response is broken.

Relief from physical pain can arrive within minutes. Problems embedded in childhood, which are often at the root of intimacy issues, can take longer to resolve with EFT, but this technique has proven as or more effective than conventional talk therapy.

Author of EFT for Love Relationships, Dawson Church, PhD, has identified 12 deliberate love skills crucial to creating and maintaining lasting intimate relationships. With these 12 skills in mind, Church created a course called Loving Relationships Now that focuses on building or repairing romantic relationships by managing emotions through tapping. When one or both partners in a couple feel wounded in some way, negative emotions usually prevail. Hurt, disappointment, fear, and other toxic emotions often cause partners to stop communicating.

Relationship Advice

Couples who learn to use EFT to manage their individual emotions strengthen not only that relationship, but also their relationships with children, parents, siblings, friends, and coworkers. Learning to tap creates a peace inside you that radiates to all parts of your life.

In his 12-week course, Loving Relationships Now, Dawson Church teaches participants how to build a romantic relationship that lasts. The program is designed both for couples whose bond needs repair and singletons seeking the skills to form lasting links.

In each week of the course, a module covers one of the 12 love skills for creating and maintaining a love relationship. The modules are:

    • Week 1: Fostering Secure Attachment

    • Week 2: Voices from the Shadow

    • Week 3: Why Everything You’ve Tried So Far Hasn’t Worked: Neuroplasticity and Stress

    • Week 4: Emotional Mastery: Riding the Wild Elephant

    • Week 5: The Elephant in the Bedroom: Tapping the Power of Emotional Self-Management

    • Week 6: Avoiding Spiritual Bypass: Practices That Foster True Intimacy

    • Week 7: Finding Your Soul Mate with EFT

    • Week 8: Freedom from Love Addiction

    • Week 9: Unequally Yoked: When Only One Person Wants to Change

    • Week 10: Relationship as Spiritual Path

    • Week 11: Dealing with Attractions and Affairs

    • Week 12: Energy Ecology


By teaching participants in his Loving Relationships Now course about tapping for relationships and how to heal, Dawson Church is helping people transform their lives. Because of the possibilities EFT offers, you can retrain your brain to be destined for love.

Efficacy of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) in reducing public speaking anxiety: A randomized controlled trial

Research & Studies

Efficacy of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) in Reducing Public Speaking Anxiety: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Citation (APA Style): Jones, S. J., Thornton, J. A., & Andrews, H. B. (2011). Efficacy of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) in reducing public speaking anxiety: A randomized controlled trial. Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 3(1), p 33-42.


Thirty-six volunteers with Public Speaking Anxiety (PSA) were randomly allocated into a treatment group and wait-list control group. Subjective self-report measures were taken before, during, and after a forty-five minute treatment session with Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). Behavioural observations were recorded during a 4-minute speech immediately after treatment. Comparisons between groups revealed significant reductions in PSA on all self-report measures, but not in behavioural observations. Changes in scores taken before and after treatment for each participant revealed significant reduction in PSA on all subjective and behavioural measures. A significant reduction in PSA as measured by Subjective Units of Discomfort was demonstrated within the first 15 minutes of treatment with EFT, with further significant reductions also demonstrated at 30 and 45 minutes. EFT was found to be a quick and effective treatment for PSA.

Key Words

Public Speaking Anxiety, PSA, EFT, Emotional Freedom Techniques.

How the Science Behind “Conscious Uncoupling” Can Save Your Relationship

by Dawson Church, PhD

When Gwyneth Paltrow and husband Chris Martin announced that they were consciously uncoupling rather than “getting divorced” their choice of language caused a stir. Yet bringing consciousness into a divorce has benefits that are backed up by solid science. These benefits apply equally well to a conscious marriage.

Being conscious, in the sense of acting with awareness of the implications of your actions, engages the frontal lobes of our brains. These brain regions process what are called executive functions, such as abstract thought, and the ability to distinguish innocuous stimuli from genuine threats. For example, a loud bang can activate the survival centers of the brain. The executive centers are the brain regions that figure out it’s a car backfiring, not a gunshot.

Conflicts that arise in marriage often uncover deep emotional wounds. If couples speak and act from those wounds, they inject negative emotion into their relationship, compounding their problems. Eventually the backlog of bad feelings accumulate to the point where they get divorced.

If on the other hand they have a high enough degree of emotional self-regulation to avoid saying and doing hurtful things, their chances of a happy marriage increase, and the changes of divorce recede.

It’s fascinating to look at the neurological patterns of a person who is emotionally triggered. They literally “go unconscious.” The emotional midbrain, composed of sub-structures like the amygdala, hippocampus and hypothalamus, is fully engaged. It sends signals to the hindbrain, which regulates survival functions like respiration, digestion and circulation.

That’s why when you’re stressed, you feel a knot in your stomach, as the body shunts resources away from digestion. Your shoulders tense, as blood is forced into your peripheral muscles. Your breathing becomes fast and shallow, providing a burst of oxygen to your muscles. Non-essential systems like your reproductive system and immune system shut down.

Studies show that when primates like humans are highly stressed, the capillaries in the brain’s frontal lobes contract. These tiny blood vessels shut down, forcing blood out of the frontal lobes and into the parts of the body most needed for the fight-flight response, like the muscles. The executive centers of the brain that are responsible for wise decision making are starved of oxygen. Up to 70% of the blood in the frontal lobes drains out, effectively taking our rational decision-making capacity offline. The computer’s hard drive is still present, but the power supply (oxygen and nutrient-rich blood) is turned off.

Not only does the kind of high emotion found in marriage and divorce take our intellectual assets offline, but if we repeatedly express our negative emotions, our brains become more adept at carrying those signals. They develop increased capacity to relay the messages of emotional distress.

Studies of identical twin men, one of whom was deployed in Vietnam while the other was not, demonstrate this clearly. The twin who saw combat has a faster stress response than the non-deployed twin; over time the volume of the combatant’s brain’s executive centers shrinks, along with the brain structures responsible for memory and learning. Stress isn’t just a behavioral habit; over time it turns into an anatomical reality.

In people with this type of brain change, studies show that stress signals go straight from the brain’s emotional center to the hindbrain, which turns on the fight-flight response. When your spouse says something that annoys you, you respond with reflexive annoyance.

In people with good emotional regulation, stress signals are referred forward to the frontal lobes, who decide if the stimulus is truly a threat. If not, they block the referral of the signal to the hindbrain, so the body doesn’t get the instructions to gear up for trouble. Your spouse may say that same annoying thing, but if your prefrontal cortex is online, you aren’t tempted to scream at him or her. You choose your words consciously, and heighten your chance of a constructive encounter. Your creativity, logical reasoning ability, cognitive skills, and sense of perspective remain intact.

It is possible to train your brain. You can cultivate the habit of responding to the emotional problems you encounter in marriage with calmness. Over time, you build up those neural pathways, and calmness becomes habit. In this way, whether you’re coupling or uncoupling, your prefrontal cortex is online, and you have the full spectrum of life skills you’ve learned available to you.

Here are some scientifically proven ways of halting those knee-jerk reactions:

  1. Take a long, slow, deep breath. Make your inbreath last at least five seconds, and your outbreath a similar length. Studies show this type of breathing signals your nervous system that you’re not facing an objective physical threat, and you’ll be less likely to treat your spouse’s words as such.
  2. Relax your tongue on the floor of your mouth. When we’re stressed, our tongues tense up along with many other muscle groups. A study found that that relaxing your tongue sends a relaxing signal to your hindbrain, telling the fight-flight response to stand down.
  3. Stimulate your acupressure points with your fingertips. Over 50 studies of Emotional Freedom Techniques or EFT, the most popular acupressure technique, show that it produces large and immediate reductions in anxiety, depression, and traumatic stress. The basic EFT routine uses 12 acupressure points and takes less than a minute to perform.
  4. Wait five minutes before responding. Cortisol is your main stress hormone. Our bodies produce it fast in response to a threat. However, cortisol molecules are also rapidly broken down when we no longer need them. If you wait five to twenty minutes, your levels of both cortisol and adrenaline will drop, and you’ll feel calm and rational again. EFT has also been proven to lower cortisol in a randomized controlled trial.

Couples that become adept at these skills are able to navigate the emotional ups and downs that are inevitable in a relationship. With the benefit of emotional self-regulation, their consciousness remains online during times of conflict. They’re able to use the skills they learn in therapy when emotions run high. They’re more likely to get through rough patches without lasting damage to the relationship. This builds resiliency, and a sense that the relationship is strong enough to navigate through life’s challenges.

And if the relationship is not going to endure, as for Paltrow and Martin, a conscious approach to uncoupling can spare them and their children the recriminations and bitter fights that characterize a pair of brains locked in fight-flight mode.

For many years I’ve been identifying the skills essential to a conscious relationship. I’ve now assembled them in a systematic program called Tapping Deep Intimacy. It’s a 12-week online course, and it trains you in the practices that foster love, trust and connection. Learning and practicing those skills has made all the difference to the more than 1,000 people who have enrolled in the course so far. This link will introduce you to one of those simple skills that makes all the difference.

However you get conscious, and whether you are in a relationship now or not, you can save yourself a lifetime of stress by using your relationships for joy and peace instead of conflict and pain.

dawson-church-phd-headshotDawson Church, PhD, is an award-winning science writer with three best-selling books to his credit. The Genie in Your Genes was the first book to demonstrate that emotions drive gene expression. Mind to Matter showed that the brain creates much of what we think of as “objective reality.” Bliss Brain demonstrates that peak mental states rapidly remodel the brain for happiness. Dawson has conducted dozens of clinical trials, and founded the National Institute for Integrative Healthcare (NIIH) to promote groundbreaking new treatments. Dawson shares how to apply these health and performance breakthroughs through EFT Universe.

Spirituality Produces Marital Satisfaction and Happier Children

Religion and spirituality can strengthen marriages and families. Many such results are found in a series of studies published by the American Psychological Association in two special editions of its journals.

A higher degree of commitment was found in romantic partners who prayed for their significant others. Couples with a strong sense of spiritual intimacy were more effective at handling their top three areas of conflict. The perception of the relationship as sacred led to a higher degree of satisfaction in marriage.

The effects of a strong spiritual bond or religious practice extended to the families of these couples. Their teenage children showed an increased experience of well-being. These patterns were found in couples at every socioeconomic level, and across a diverse spectrum of ethnic groups.

Section editors Annette Mahoney and Annamarie Cano said that the emerging field of “relational spirituality” looks at how spiritual beliefs and behaviors can affect intimate relationships. They hope this publication will increase research in this area and improve the exchange between the fields of family psychology and the psychology of religion and spirituality.

The bottom line is that it’s worth developing the spiritual aspect of your relationship, and perceiving your partner as a spiritual being on a human path, rather than trying to solve problems only at the material level.

Tapping can reinforce both your spiritual life and your marriage. There are dozens of stories written by people who use EFT to enhance their spiritual practice, and many more by couples who’ve transformed their marriages after learning EFT. The increased well-being that comes from both a strong spiritual life and a loving family doesn’t just make you feel better; it has measurable positive effects on your health and longevity as well.

Can You Predict the Success of Your Relationship?

by Dawson Church, PhD

Imagine if you could predict how happy you are going to be as a couple. What characteristics would you look for in your perfect partner?

New research has shown that emotional intelligence is strongly associated with relationship success and long-term satisfaction. It’s a trait well worth looking for in potential partners. If you’re in a relationship, whether a new one or a long-term one, it’s worth cultivating.

Emotional intelligence is a measure of how well you understand and relate to your own and another person’s emotions.

There are 4 elements of emotional intelligence:

    1. Emotional Awareness: You’re aware of, and understand your emotions, and are able to examine them objectively.
    2. Regulating Emotions: You don’t become overwhelmed by your emotions, and can effectively manage them.
    3. Harnessing Emotions: You can use your emotions in a positive way to meet your goals and solve your problems.
    4. Perceptiveness of the Emotions of Others: You can empathize with others and understand their feelings.

Luckily, emotional intelligence is something that you can learn and improve upon. One way to do this is to practice emotional mindfulness — becoming aware of your own emotions at times of heightened emotion, and considering why you feel that way.

This is also known as emotional labeling.

To learn these skills, couples can attend coaching sessions and develop their skills together. Many certified Clinical EFT practitioners work with couples. I’ve also seen many couples experience breakthroughs in the Tapping Deep Intimacy online program. It teaches 12 essential skills for cultivating emotional intelligence, as well as showing couples how to apply EFT effectively to love relationships.

Being able to understand and manage emotions effectively is important for a happy love life, and research shows that having a high emotional intelligence level will allow you to model good skills to your partner, helping both of you.

You can assess the emotional intelligence levels of potential partners to determine if they’re a good fit for you.

Couples just starting their relationship journey, as well as those in trouble, can improve their relationships, and increase their chances of long-term happiness, by increasing their degree of emotional intelligence.

EFT is one of the best tools I’ve discovered for raising your emotional intelligence level, and though it takes commitment and hard work, the payoff in the form of a happy long-term relationship, is more than worth it!

Research shows that you can improve your chances of a loving long-term relationship by increasing your level of emotional intelligence. Why not increase the odds by cultivating emotional intelligence with EFT?

dawson-church-phd-headshotDawson Church, PhD, is an award-winning science writer with three best-selling books to his credit. The Genie in Your Genes was the first book to demonstrate that emotions drive gene expression. Mind to Matter showed that the brain creates much of what we think of as “objective reality.” Bliss Brain demonstrates that peak mental states rapidly remodel the brain for happiness. Dawson has conducted dozens of clinical trials, and founded the National Institute for Integrative Healthcare (NIIH) to promote groundbreaking new treatments. Dawson shares how to apply these health and performance breakthroughs through EFT Universe.

Cultivating Healthy Habits? Involve Your Partner!

Many of us are focused on cultivating healthy habits. Like starting an exercise program. Or losing weight. Or quitting smoking.

When our partner is on the same track, our chances of success rise dramatically. That’s the message from a new study using data from ELSA, the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.1 ELSA aggregates data from 3,722 couples 50 years old or older.

For example, 50% of women trying to quit smoking were successful if their smoker husbands were quitting at the same time. But if they were married to a non-smoker, the figure dropped to 17%.

When the husband wasn’t trying to quit, and continued smoking, the success rate dropped to 8%. Similar differentials were found for other lifestyle changes. The chances of success were greater for men, too, if their partners were simultaneously making changes.

There are many stories on EFT Universe of couples changing together. And there are many other accounts in which one person in the relationship was committed to change, while the other wasn’t interested. This situation is so common that in our couple skills program, Tapping Deep Intimacy, we devote an entire module to the problem.

Whether you’re in a marriage or partnership in which the other person is an enthusiastic collaborator, or whether you’re going it alone, EFT will help you shift. Check out the Tapping Deep Intimacy 12-week online program for the skills to create a fantastic partnership or marriage using tapping and 11 other proven relationship techniques!


1. Jackson, S. E., Steptoe, A., & Wardle, J. (2015). The influence of partner’s behavior on health behavior change: The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. JAMA Intern Med, 175(3), 385-392.