A bid is any attempt from one partner to another for attention, affirmation, affection, or any other positive connection – The Gottman Institute
Relationship bids are what make up the foundation of the connection between one partner and the other. No matter what happens in your day to day life, you will either turn towards your partner or turn away. When you’re happy or something amazing has happened at work, you’re obviously more likely to turn towards your partner for affirmation, attention or affection. When something sad happens, you might turn away because you’re unhappy but this is also a bid for affection or attention.
Turning towards your partner is a positive bid – turning away is a negative bid. This is the foundation of bids in relationships, but recognising them in a situation can be vastly challenging if you’re not paying attention to your partner.
There are 2 types of bids; verbal and non-verbal.
Verbal bids can sound something like the following:
“John, could I please borrow your car for this weekend?”
“Hey Mary, should we go get drinks this weekend?”
“How was your day?”
According to Dr. Gottman, non-verbal bids include:
- Affectionate touching, such as a back-slap, a handshake, a pat, a squeeze, a kiss, a hug, or a back or shoulder rub.
- Facial expressions, such as a smile, blowing a kiss, rolling your eyes, or sticking out your tongue.
- Playful touching, such as tickling, bopping, wrestling, dancing, or a gentle bump or shove.
- Affiliating gestures, such as opening a door, offering a place to sit, handing over a utensil, or pointing to a shared activity or interest.
- Vocalising, such as laughing, chuckling, grunting, sighing, or groaning in a way that invites interaction or interest.
Bids can be hard to read, therefore, you should learn the different types and try to figure out what it is your partner is after. Are they wanting your attention, your affection, your affirmation or all three?
Let’s look at an example of bidding for connection:
You and your date/friend are out for dinner one night and your date/friend says “Hmm, there’s so much on the menu. I can’t decide what to eat!” Your responses may be:
Turning Away Shrugs shoulders and talks about something else
Turning Against “You never know what you want! You’re so indecisive”
Turning Towards “What are you deciding between? Do you feel more like this or that?”
This may seem like a pretty simple situation however it is an everyday occurrence. Maybe the next time you’re on a date, see how you communicate and how you respond to your partner’s bid!