The Power of Bidding in Relationships

My partner in crime (ok…in life). Doesn’t he have warm eyes??

My partner in crime (ok…in life). Doesn’t he have warm eyes??

What is bidding?

“Bidding” is a term that relationship expert, John Gottman uses to explain a reaching out to another person for emotional connection. It can be as simple as noticing a bird outside the window and mentioning it to your partner. It might be asking a question, sharing a passage from a book, or making a joke. It could be providing your partner with a glass of water or handing your partner their keys before they leave for work. Any attempt at emotional connection classifies as a bid. Make sense? Bids are also potential deposits that go into our relationship bank accounts. Gottman explains how a bid is an actual “turning towards” your partner or loved one. Interestingly, in happy couples, bidding happens twenty times more than in distressed couples. Simply put? Happy couples turn toward one another at a much higher rate than unhappy ones.

The Response to a Bid is Key

Once a bid has been offered, how we respond can be telling. What are we aiming for? In happy relationships, you would be more apt to see the receiver put down their newspaper or phone in order to be more present and to respond positively to the bid at hand. Need a tangible example? Let’s go back to the bird outside the window at breakfast. I do love birds! Let’s say I mention to John, “Look at the bird on our windowsill! So close up! Isn’t it beautiful?” That is the bid. I have just made it to John. Most likely, John is contentedly reading something on his phone as he eats his morning meal. If John were to positively receive my bid, he would most likely look up from his phone, glance out the window, and give me a moment of his attention. Annoyance is not what we are after. Nor is irritation a solid start. Bids aren’t always convenient, by the way. But John is on his game so he responds with a comment on how lovely the bird is or he might smile at me and compliment how much he loves that I appreciate nature. What a guy! You get the idea, right? In the end, John and I would share in a moment of connection over a bird. But it is larger than the bird, folks! Imagine! We tend to do this all the time in our relationships. It is interesting to note that how and if we receive the bids—has everything to do with how close we feel to one another. Isn’t that amazing? Small moments have the potential to add up to increased connection, intimacy, and trust in a way that matters.

Something to Try

If you are interested in increasing the bids in your relationship, start by noticing when your loved one bids for you. Yes, this works for your significant other but it also works with our children and close friends too. As best you can, try to pause what you are doing to positively respond to any bids that come your way. Try out your own bidding too! If necessary, start a conversation about the importance of bidding in relationships and how small moments can really add up to feeling more connected to those we love every day. If you are interested in reading more, check out this article!

What do you think about the idea of bidding? Do you bid in your relationships? How does it make you feel when your bids are received well? Are you able to receive bids well?

Margi Dehlin3 Comments