We here at The Gottman Relationship Blog have been struck by the outpouring of interest in our recent postings on bidding. In the resulting “Ah hah! moment,” we have decided to focus on this topic in more depth! Look forward to our future blog posts!

In the interest of sharing Dr. Gottman’s research on the mechanics of bidding, before we turn towards Turning Against bids (pun unintentional – apologies for any discomfort incurred), we would like to explain Dr. Gottman’s conclusions on the posts we shared with you earlier this week. His years of research reveal something counter-intuitive: the smallest exchanges between you and your partner (most of which seem totally irrelevant to your relationship) have the power to ultimately make or break it.His words speak to the importance of giving close attention to the ways in which you and your partner interpret each other’s responses to bids, so that you may learn exactly how to create positive change in your own relationship.

The following are Dr. Gottman’s descriptions of the messages you and your partner send each other when you turn away from each other’s bids, whether this happens consciously or unconsciously. Remember, though it may seem otherwise at times, none of us are mind readers! Keep in mind that bids occur in our relationships constantly. Bids range from kisses on the cheek to asking to “pass the salt” to “do you want to go see a movie?” to requests to buy a house that one of you really likes. 

What Turning Away Tells Your Partner:

  • I don’t care about your bid.
  • I want to avoid your bid.
  • I’m not interested in your interests.
  • I’ve got more important things on my mind.
  • I’m too busy to pay attention to your bid.
  • Your bid is not worth my time.
  • I want to be more independent than you want me to be.

Ring true?! All of us have been there. In the words of science, this “stinks.” This “really, really, really stinks.”

What Turning Towards Tells Your Partner:

  • I hear you.
  • I’m interested in you.
  • I understand you (or I want to understand you).
  • I’m on your side.
  • I’d love to help you (whether or not I can).
  • I’d love to be with you (whether or not I can).
  • I accept you (even if I don’t accept all of your behaviors).

We all know how this feels. Academics say that this feels “really, really good.”

Keep these messages in mind as you interact with your partner this weekend and, as always, into the future! Though keeping all of this in mind is a daunting task given the plethora of other things that you have to keep in mind (believe us, we understand!), forming these habits can make critical changes in your relationship. As you begin to engage with your partner in healthy styles of communication, the two of you may be surprised to see what a difference the smallest exchanges can make. Because of the importance of this subject, we will expand on it further next week, revealing the results of Dr. Gottman’s research on bidding in greater depth!

More in The Archives
The Mechanics of Bidding: Messages You Don’t Even Know You’re Sending

Ellie Lisitsa is a staff writer at The Gottman Institute and a regular contributor to The Gottman Relationship Blog. Ellie is pursuing her B.A. in Psychology with an emphasis on Cognitive Dissonance at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.