A bid for connection is just that—your partner offers (or bids) a piece of communication and connection without asking you a direct question. It’s simply a statement or musing that attempts to garner a reaction, and it signifies a yearning for connection.
Here’s an example: Imagine your partner points out that it started to rain on their walk home from work. This may seem like a small and minor comment; however, you have a decision at this moment: turn toward or turn away from your partner’s bid to communicate with you.
According to the Gottmans, “turning toward” is an important marker for successful relationships. In fact, they studied it directly in their research: They created an apartment lab and studied couples who stayed there for 24 hours. “[Couples who] would respond to each other’s bids for connection 85% of the time were successful down the road,” says Julie. The couples that weren’t successful? Well, they only responded to their partner 33% of the time.
In terms of what this looks like in practice, let’s circle back to the example above: When your partner comments on the rain, you could perhaps ask a follow-up question with the intention of better understanding how this event impacted their day. Or, you could disregard the comment, turning away from your partner’s bid for connection. Or you could even lash out with a who cares?
Of course, it’s important to emphasize that 85% metric: You don’t have to respond to every single statement your partner makes to have a successful relationship—that would be unrealistic and, quite frankly, exhausting. Sometimes you don’t want to engage, and that’s totally fine! The kicker here is to turn towards your partner the majority of the time—that’s where the Gottmans saw the most success.