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The Sound Relationship House: Turn Towards Instead of Away

Playful bids and enthusiastic efforts to turn towards each other result in heightened levels of positivity during conflict discussions.

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In this The Sound Relationship House Series, the third level of Dr. John Gottman’s model is Turn Towards Instead of Away. The strongest relationships are built from the ground up. One of the greatest predictors of a relationship’s success is the ability to turn towards each other, constantly developing the bond by making an effort every day to reach out to your partner and accept bids for emotional connection. The majority of fights in relationships are the result of turning away from and against these bids. Turning away and against are related to both suppressed negativity and being in the attack-defend mode. Playful bids and enthusiastic efforts to turn towards each other result in heightened levels of positivity during conflict discussions. They also help to build up your emotional bank account, maintain a strong and healthy bond, and bring the fire back into your romance.

When Dr. John Gottman asked couples what they thought made their relationships feel more romantic, he heard the following examples: candle-lit dinners, soft music, lovely drives in the country, picnics, and moonlit walks. According to his research on relationships, none of these things alone will make your love life better if you are not first connected emotionally.

See the video below to hear an excerpt from one of his lectures on the building of attunement in your relationship, which are the things that you do in the smallest moments that strengthen your connection and trust in each other:

Here are easy, effective ways you can make a deep and lasting emotional connection with your loved one and show commitment and attention throughout the day:

  • Put your arm around your partner in the morning, and tell them how thankful you are that you get to wake up next to them every day.
  • Give your partner your undivided attention when they talk about work or their family.
  • Tend to your partner’s needs, both big and small.
  • Kiss hello and goodbye (a six-second kiss is ideal and has romantic potential).
  • Verbally notice when your partner looks stressed.
  • Compliment your partner.
  • Join your partner when they are doing housework.

These are just a few examples. Consider your partner’s love map for more ideas on how to recognize their bids and respond appropriately.

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Ellie Lisitsa is a former staff writer at The Gottman Institute. She holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology.

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