Picture this: You're sitting at a cozy corner table in a Michelin-star restaurant, enjoying a delightful meal with your partner. In that moment, you realize that your relationship has been going through a rough patch, and it's time to make a change. You decide to pay closer attention to your partner's bids for connection, which sets the stage for a transformative journey. In this article, we will explore the concept of bids in relationships and how they can significantly impact the quality and longevity of your partnership.
Bids, as described by renowned relationship expert John Gottman, are the fundamental units of emotional communication. They serve as the building blocks of connection between partners. Bids can take various forms, from simple gestures like asking about your partner's day or offering a warm smile, to more substantial expressions of vulnerability or affection. How we respond to these bids has a profound impact on the health and vitality of our relationship.
The Research Behind Bids
John Gottman's extensive research on couples revealed a striking difference between relationship masters and disasters. Masters, those who have thriving and harmonious relationships, consistently turned towards each other's bids 86% of the time. They actively listened, responded with interest, and made their partners feel valued and understood. In contrast, disasters responded positively to bids only 33% of the time, often neglecting or dismissing their partners' attempts at connection. The frequency and quality of bid responses directly correlated with relationship satisfaction, stability, and longevity.
Turning Towards, Away, or Against
When a bid is made, we have three possible responses: turning towards, turning away, or turning against. Turning towards means actively acknowledging and engaging with the bid, demonstrating genuine interest and attentiveness. It involves actively listening, offering support, and making an effort to understand your partner's needs.
This response fosters trust, emotional connection, and intimacy. On the other hand, turning away occurs when we ignore or dismiss the bid, often due to distractions, preoccupations, or disinterest. This response can leave our partners feeling neglected or unimportant. Turning against is the most detrimental response, involving reacting in a confrontational or argumentative manner, rejecting the bid, and potentially damaging the relationship.
How should I respond to a bid?
There are three ways you can respond to a bid:
Turning towards (acknowledging the bid): When your partner makes a bid for connection, turning towards means actively acknowledging and engaging with their bid. It involves giving them your full attention, expressing interest, and responding in a positive and supportive manner. For example, if your partner sighs audibly while reading an email, you can turn towards them and ask, "What's wrong?" This response shows that you are present, caring, and willing to listen.
Turning away (ignoring or missing the bid): Turning away occurs when you either ignore or miss your partner's bid. This response can happen when you're preoccupied with something else or fail to notice their attempt to connect. For instance, if your partner asks you how your day was while you're busy tidying up the kitchen, responding with a grunt or continuing what you're doing without acknowledging their question is turning away. It sends a message that their bid for connection is not important or valued.
Turning against (rejecting the bid in an argumentative or belligerent way): Turning against involves responding to a bid with hostility, defensiveness, or criticism. It can escalate a situation and create conflict rather than fostering connection. An example of turning against would be replying to your partner's question about your day with an attack, such as saying, "Why are you always interrupting me when I'm trying to get things done?" This response dismisses their bid and can damage trust and emotional intimacy.
Why do bids matter?
Bids for connection are crucial because they form the foundation of trust, emotional connection, passion, and a satisfying sex life in a relationship. In his research, Dr. John Gottman found a significant difference between successful couples (masters) and struggling couples (disasters) in how they respond to bids. Masters turned towards each other 86% of the time, while disasters turned towards each other only 33% of the time.
While none of us are perfect at accepting all of our partner's bids, masters demonstrate a higher degree of responsiveness and attentiveness. Building a strong relationship requires consistent daily attention, rather than relying solely on occasional grand gestures or date nights. It's the accumulation of the small bids and responses throughout the day that nurtures the connection between partners.
How often should I make bids?
It is important to bid often to show your partner that you care and want to connect with them. Mastering the art of the tiny moment involves reaching out in various ways to demonstrate your love and support. This can be as simple as sending a good luck message before a meeting, leaving an encouraging note on the fridge, or greeting your partner with a kiss that lasts at least six seconds when they walk in the door.
Happy couples make bids for connection frequently. According to Gottman's research, masters made as many as one hundred bids in a ten-minute period during a dinner conversation, while disasters engaged each other only sixty-five times. The key is to make multiple bids throughout the day, even if they are short and simple. These bids, when consistently made, convey a sense of love, attentiveness, and desire to connect with your partner.
The Impact of Ignored Bids
When bids for connection are consistently ignored, a cycle of resentment and emotional distance can accumulate over time, eroding the fabric of the relationship. Ignoring bids sends a clear message of disengagement, detachment, and lack of care, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and dissatisfaction. Over time, this can strain the emotional bond between partners and create a rift that may be challenging to bridge.
Mastering the Art of Bids
To nurture a healthy and fulfilling relationship, it is essential to make frequent bids and respond positively to your partner's bids. These bids can be simple and spontaneous gestures, such as offering a heartfelt compliment, showing physical affection, or actively participating in shared activities. The key is to be attentive and responsive, demonstrating your commitment to their emotional well-being and the strength of your connection. By embracing bids and engaging with your partner, you create an environment of emotional safety and intimacy where both partners feel seen, heard, and valued.
The Transformative Power of Paying Attention
Paying attention to bids is not merely a superficial act but a catalyst for positive change in your relationship. By making a conscious effort to listen actively, engage wholeheartedly, and respond with care, you demonstrate your commitment to your partner's emotional well-being and the strength of your connection. This shift in focus can lead to a renewed sense of appreciation, understanding, and empathy within the relationship. As you consistently respond to bids, you create a positive feedback loop that fosters trust, deepens emotional intimacy, and reignites the spark in your relationship.
To conclude: In a world filled with distractions, responsibilities, and competing priorities, it is crucial to prioritize and value the bids for connection in your relationship. By turning towards your partner's bids, actively listening, and responding with care, you create an environment of emotional safety and intimacy.
Remember, the power lies not only in grand gestures but also in the daily attentiveness and small moments that strengthen the foundation of your relationship. Embrace the transformative potential of bids, and watch your love thrive and flourish as you build a lasting and fulfilling connection with your partner.