Bids for Connection: The Secret to Building Stronger Relationships

Bids for connection is a concept developed by the renowned couple therapist John and Julie GottmanAt its core, bids or requests for connection refer to any attempt by one partner to connect with the other through verbal or non-verbal communication. According to the Gottmans, successful relationships are built on trust, commitment, and intimacy. They believe that bids for connection play as crucial part in creating and maintaining intimacy. 

So, what exactly do bids for connection look like? 

Bids can take many different forms, from a simple smile or touch to more complex verbal invitations to engage. Some common examples include asking a partner about their day or reaching out for a hug. Other examples include making a playful comment or even just sharing a funny meme or video. Essentially, any time one partner is making an effort to connect with the other, they are making a bid for connection.

While bids for connection may seem like small gestures, they are incredibly important in relationships. This is because they are one of the most important ways partners can deposit into the emotional bank account, which refers to the accumulation of positive feelings and experiences between partners. To maintain a healthy emotional bank account, partners need to be aware of their bids for connection and respond positively whenever possible.

When one partner makes a bid for connection, they are essentially saying to their partner, “I want to connect with you, and I want to feel connected to you”. If the other partner responds positively to this bid, they are essentially saying, “I want to connect with you too, and I value our connection”. This positive feedback loop can create a powerful sense of emotional closeness and intimacy, which is essential for a healthy relationship.

Conversely, when a partner consistently fails to respond to their partner’s bids for connection, they are making a withdrawal from the emotional bank account. In addition, this can be a sign of deeper issues in the relationship or an indication that they feel emotionally disconnected or distant from their partner. Over time, failing to respond positively can lead to feelings of loneliness, isolation, and even resentment. 

Here are some tips for prioritising bids for connection;

1. Make Time for Each Other: This might mean scheduling regular date nights or setting aside time each week to check in with each other. By making time to connect, you’re sending a clear message to your partner that they are a priority in your life.

2. Practice Active Listening: When your partner is speaking, try to really listen to what they are saying without interrupting or becoming defensive. You need to show your partner that you understand and care about what they are saying. You can do that by asking questions and reflecting back on what you’ve heard.

3. Be Present: When you’re spending time with your partner, try to be present in the moment. This means putting away your phone or other distractions and focusing on your partner. When you’re fully present, you’re better able to pick up on your partner’s bids for connection. Then you are more likely to respond to them in a meaningful way.

4. Practice Empathy: Empathy is understanding and sharing another person’s feelings. When you practice empathy in your relationship, you’re better able to connect with your partner on a deep, emotional level. Try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and imagine how they might feel. This can help you to respond to their bids for connection in a more meaningful way.

5. Express Appreciation: This can be as simple as saying “thank you” for something they’ve done or expressing gratitude for their presence in your life. When your partner feels appreciated, they are more likely to make bids for connection and strengthen your emotional connection.

Our relationships often take a backseat to our busy lives in today’s fast-paced world. Unfortunately, this makes it easier to miss or overlook the importance of these requests for connection. By being mindful of our bids for connection, we increase our chances to respond positively whenever possible. This helps to foster intimacy, nourish our relationships, and create a lasting connection with our partner. With effort and intention, you can build a relationship that is full of harmony, intimacy, and love.

I wish you all the best.

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