Bids For Connection: How to Build Your Relationship in Small Moments

Published On: June 13, 2024|Categories: Advice for Men, Dating Tips, Sex and Intimacy|5 min read|

Imagine you’re sitting at the kitchen table, sipping your morning coffee and scrolling through your phone. From across the table, your partner looks at a newspaper, and says, “There’s an interesting article about the local farmers’ market in here. Should we try to go this weekend?”

It might seem like just a question, but it’s actually so much more. This is a bid for your attention and emotional connection. In this small moment, your response can set the tone for your interaction and influence the overall health of your relationship.

A bid for connection is any action that aims to get a positive response from another person. This can include a simple smile, a question, a touch, or a request for help. The concept was popularized by Dr. John Gottman, a psychologist known for his work on marital stability and relationship analysis. Gottman found that how partners respond to each other’s bids for connection is a strong predictor of relationship success.

Types of Bids

Verbal Bids: Verbal bids are explicit attempts to connect through words. They can range from a comment on your surroundings to sharing a tough experience from your life. These are some examples of verbal bids for connection:

  • “How was your day?” This shows interest in your partner’s daily life and experiences.
  • “Do you remember our first date?” Reminiscing about your honeymoon phase can spark positive memories and create a bonding moment.
  • “What do you think about taking a weekend trip together?” This is an invitation to plan something exciting together.
  • “I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with work lately.” This opens up a space for emotional support and empathy.
  • “I love spending time with you.” This expresses appreciation and affection.
  • “I saw a couple walking hand-in-hand, and it reminded me of us.” Sharing observations that connect to your relationship can reinforce your bond.
  • “You look amazing tonight.” This boosts your partner’s confidence and shows appreciation.
  • “You always know how to make me smile.” Compliments like this reinforce positive aspects of the relationship.
  • “I really admire the way you handled that situation.” Praising your partner’s actions can show support and admiration.

Non-Verbal Bids: Physical gestures like a hug or a touch, facial expressions, or even actions like doing chores for someone. When it comes to building connection and maintaining a sense of intimacy, non-verbal bids for connection are just as important as the words you exchange. Non-verbal bids include:

  • Touching: A gentle touch on the arm, holding hands, or cuddling on the couch are all bids for physical closeness and comfort.
  • Hugging: Offering a hug, especially when your partner seems stressed or upset, is a way to show support and care.
  • Kissing: A quick kiss on the cheek or lips can be a simple yet powerful bid for affection.
  • Smiling: Smiling when your partner enters the room can be a warm and inviting gesture.
  • Eye Contact: Making and maintaining eye contact during conversations shows attentiveness and interest.
  • Expressive Looks: Raising your eyebrows in interest or concern, or giving a loving look, can convey a lot without words.
  • Acts of Service: Doing something thoughtful like making your partner’s favorite meal or taking care of a chore they dislike can be a bid for appreciation and gratitude.
  • Spontaneous Gestures: Bringing home a small gift or planning a surprise date night shows thoughtfulness and a desire to make your partner happy.
  • Spending Quality Time: Suggesting that you watch a movie together, go for a walk, or just sit and talk are bids for closeness and companionship.

Responding to Bids for Connection

In romantic relationships, the way partners respond to each other’s bids for connection can have a huge impact on the relationship’s quality and stability. Dr. John Gottman identified three primary responses to these bids. They are turning towards, turning away, and turning against. Here’s a deeper look into each response type:

Turning Towards: This happens when you recognize your partner’s bid for connection and respond with interest, empathy, or affection. Positive responses help to build emotional intimacy and trust. Turning toward your partner also encourages them to make more positive bids for connection, creating a positive feedback loop that strengthens your relationship.

Turning Away: Partners can turn away from each other either intentionally or unintentionally. This kind of response happens when you ignore or simply don’t notice your partner’s bid. Ignored bids can make partners feel neglected and unimportant. Partners may feel disconnected and misunderstood, leading to potential conflicts and resentment. Over time, frequent turning away can erode trust and weaken the emotional bond.

Turning Against: This response involves reacting with hostility, annoyance, or criticism, effectively rejecting the bid in a hurtful manner. Turning against often leads to arguments and escalates tensions between partners. Negative responses can lead to feelings of rejection and hurt, significantly harming the relationship. Partners may become reluctant to make bids, fearing negative reactions, which further decreases intimacy and connection.

How Bids for Connection Impact Your Relationship

In happy relationships, partners often respond positively to each other’s bids for connection, creating a cycle of positive interactions that strengthen their emotional connection. Each time they acknowledge and engage with each other’s attempts to connect, they build trust and closeness. This helps them handle conflicts and challenges more easily.

In struggling relationships, partners frequently ignore or respond negatively to each other’s bids for connection. This can lead to feelings of rejection and emotional distance. When bids are met with neglect or hostility, it creates hurt and mistrust, leading to more conflicts and misunderstandings. As a result, partners may become hesitant to reach out, deepening the emotional gap.

Understanding and recognizing bids for connection can greatly improve communication and strengthen relationships. This means paying attention to both words and actions, showing genuine interest, and responding kindly. Couples therapy often teaches partners to notice and respond positively to each other’s bids, transforming how they interact. By consistently turning towards each other’s bids, couples can build a stronger, more connected relationship.

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