The Importance of Bids for Connection

If you are a regular reader of my blog, by now you have heard me say many times that we are a relationship species. We also thrive on healthy connections with our loved ones; our sense of security is directly linked to those connections.

Dr. John Gottman has coined the term bids for connection as ‘turning towards’ your partner. When we make an emotional bid to our loved ones, we are attempting to connect. Both giving and accepting the bid fills our emotional bank account. We can also ‘turn away’ from the emotional bid, creating distance and potential conflict in the relationship. Although Dr. Gottman speaks primarily of this in marital relationships, it can be applied to any relationship in which we reciprocally work to keep it healthy.

Here are some examples of some bids for connection:

  • Verbal statements: these are any type of bids that include words. Terms of endearment, asking how someone’s day was. It can also be a blanket statement such as “Something happened today that is really bugging me.” Bids can also include compliments, or requests – “Do you mind getting me a soda when you’re up?” They can include statements of appreciation – “Supper was really good, honey,” – or a feeling statement – “I’m kind of feeling sad today.”
  • Non verbal statements: these are the bids that include affection – a hug, kiss, arm around a shoulder. It can be kind gestures such as cooking for someone, completing a chore for them, buying them a small gift. Bids can also include facial gestures such as a nod, smiling or a wink.

When we turn towards the emotional bids, we are responsive; we let our loved one know that they can count on us. The turning towards builds trust. When we remain unresponsive by ignoring or dismissing a bid, it wears away at the relationship.

If we are invested in a relationship, it is important to keep emotional bids as part of our strategy to keep the connection healthy – both in creating them and recognizing when one is being offered. The turning towards of one another will help to build and keep the relationship strong.

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