Small things often. If you follow The Gottman Institute, you’ve heard this and hopefully committed it to memory. Although grand gestures are nice, the particles of your day-to-day interactions maintain positive feelings and regard for the ones you love.
The Gottmans taught us that bids are the building blocks of healthy relationships. They are those meaningful daily endeavors when you invite your partner into your world and ask to enter theirs. Bids help you to connect and differentiate your familial relationships from those that you have with strangers at the market and the post office. Bids deepen your relationship.
The absence of bids leads to emotional disengagement, loneliness, and in many cases either break-up or unhappiness. No one typically sets out to turn away from their loved ones’ bids. You certainly don’t want to turn against by rejecting bids outright, but it happens often.
Cell phones, books, laptops, naps, current events, stress… There is always something else to do or something else that captures your attention. But like most things, you have a choice. Do you continue to scroll through social media or watch your favorite reality TV villain? If you do, you are at risk of being crowned as a “bid busters.”
You may miss the important interactions that are occurring right in front of you. Displaying the inattention that leaves your loved ones feeling ignored or rejected when they are vying to be the apple of your eye? That is busting their bid. Repeatedly being ignored or rejected when they try to connect with you by sharing a story, a touch, or a laugh will lead the bidding to stop.
Busting bids puts you on the road to detachment, distance, and even destruction. Ask yourself, are you busting bids? Are you hurting those who you want to love and want to love you?
It takes a great deal of vulnerability to say, “Hey, look at me, I need you.” So, the ask is typically more subtle. A text here, a pout there, a long sigh, all ways of reaching out with a yearning for you to turn toward them.
What do you do in those moments? Here’s a personal example. Raising boys that are 11 and 12 revealed that they can talk for hours about Roblox, Anime, or the latest Marvel movie, none of which interest me in the least. I can honestly think of 1000 things that would capture my attention more. Being a psychologist, of course, I want to talk about their feelings, how they see their future, and their take on the politics of the country. According to me, that’s the good stuff, the stuff that stellar mother-son relationships are made of. But is that me turning towards them, or am I always forcing them to turn towards me?
It’s easy to pay attention to the things that interest you, but you have the opportunity to show more love when you step out of your box. So now I can proudly say that I know more about Legendary Dragon Fruit, One Piece, and the Avengers than I thought possible. I learned that it’s the connection that matters, not so much the subject.
This also applies to my relationship with my husband. He can talk for days about computer hacking, C++, cybersecurity, and app development. Meanwhile, I’m just trying to make sure that I don’t accidentally share my Google Doc folder with the world. Technology is not my interest, but as I turn towards him, he has begun to also be intentional about turning toward me. Because of this, our relationship grows richer every day.
Attention, intention, interest, and curiosity are the antidotes to bid busters. Practicing this will make all the difference in your relationships. If you mind it, it matters. Mind your relationships and watch them bloom.
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