A bid for connection is any attempt from one partner to another for attention, affirmation, affection, or any other positive connection.

Bids show up in simple ways – a smile or a wink – and in more complex ways like a request for advice or help.

The Gottman Institute (supreme research experts on what makes relationships last) sees these small shared moments of attention when our partner reaches out for connection as “the fundamental units of emotional communication” and lets our partner know they are valued. It conveys love.

Missed bids for attention are missed opportunities to connect. Ignored bids for connection, or turning away or against, on the other hand, erodes the relationship over time and creates emotional distancing.

“Turning towards” strengthens the bond and a tendency to turn towards your partner forms the basis of trust, emotional connection, passion, and even a satisfying sex life.

What bids for attention look like:

  • Hey babe, look at this funny meme!
  • I sent you an article today
  • What are you in the mood for for dinner?
  • Do you like this?
  • Reaching out for your hand…
  • Wow! That was a rough day!
  • Come cuddle with me

What accepting a bid for attention means to your partner:

  • I love you
  • I see you
  • You matter
  • You’re important to me

In Gottman’s research studying newlyweds and following up with them six years later, they noted that couples that stayed together turned toward each other 86% of the time, whereas those who divorced, turned toward each other only 33% of the time.

So the next time your partner wants to show you something they like, suggests an activity to do together, reaches out their hand, or tries to break the ice with some humor after a disagreement, know that this is a small but very powerful bid for connection.

If you want help connecting with your partner in a way that it lands and promotes trust and intimacy in your relationship, this is exactly what I help my clients with.

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