Bids For Connection: How They Can Strengthen Your Relationship

You’ve probably heard plenty of stories about what you shouldn’t do in relationships —from love bombing to gaslighting. But, what can you do in your relationship to cultivate a healthy connection? One important thing is to pay attention to bids for connection.

What Are Bids For Connection?

Termed by the Gottman Institute, a bid for connection is “the fundamental unit of emotional communication.” These are requests from one partner to another to connect. A bid is a means to gain acceptance, affection, or attention from a partner. They can be big or small. A bid for connection can be verbal or nonverbal. They could be a question, expression, or physical touch.
Bids can be serious, sexual, or funny.

Examples of Bids

  • Venting about a concern
  • Making a simple request
  • Sharing details about your day
  • Sharing an accomplishment
  • Asking for a hug or physical touch
  • Sending an interesting social media post or video

How to Respond to a Bid

How you respond to a bid is important. According to Gottman, people do one of three things when responding to a bid:

  • Turn towards the bid or acknowledge it
  • Turn away from the bid or miss it
  • Turn against the bid and reject it in an argumentative manner.

Gottman argues that it’s important to turn towards these bids. Here’s an example of how to respond to a bid in a positive way.

Your partner looks at their phone and laughs. You can turn towards the bid by asking them what they are looking at or reading. Turning away from your partner would be just ignoring them. Turning against would be saying “It can’t be that funny.”

Unfortunately, many bids are ignored or responded to in an unhelpful manner. A person may see a bid as nagging or criticism. Therefore, understanding how to spot a bid is important.

Why Are Bids Important?

Although bids are often small, they are very important. The quality of our relationship depends on bids. Gottman conducted a study on newlyweds and followed up with them six years later. The couples that stayed married turned toward their partners 86 percent of the time. Couples that divorced only turned towards their partner an average of 33 percent of the time.

Turning towards your partner forms the basis for emotional connection and trust. They support vulnerability and create safety in the relationship. Frequent bids for connection also foster passion and a happy sex life.

Tips for Responding to Bids

So, how do you get better at responding to bids? It starts with paying attention.

Pay Attention

Learning to pay attention to bids is important. It’s important to recognize that a bid was made. This opens the door for connection. Pay attention to your partner when they share a funny story with you or when they ask for your advice.

Don’t Ignore Chances to Connect

Often, one partner will ignore or disregard the other’s bid to connect. The next time your partner makes a bid to connect, don’t ignore it.

Tips for Making Bids

So, how do you turn towards your partner instead of turning away? Here are some tips.

Ask For What You Want

Be direct and ask your partner for what you want. If you need physical connection or touch, tell your partner. It’s okay to say “I’m making a bid for connection right now.”

Let your partner know when they miss a bid

If your partner misses a chance to connect, let them know. Tell them that you wanted to share the funny YouTube video with them in order to laugh together and emotionally connect.

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