How do you feel connected to your partner? And do you know what your partner does to connect with you?
Communication and Relationships
Communication goes along with connection in relationships, and connection is of upmost importance for a healthy relationship. Every day, we make small attempts to connect with our partners. These are called “bids for connection” (term coined by J. Gottman.) A bid is any attempt from one person to another for connection, attention, affirmation, affection, and closeness. They can be simple- smiling back at us, cuddling when we try to be affectionate, sending a text message back, hearing about your day, etc. Or they can be a bit more complex- being vulnerable and making requests for help. Bids can be verbal and nonverbal. Sometimes, when we are caught up in a busy day, we may miss these bids or connection. If you miss some (no one is perfect, we all do sometimes) that’s okay. But when bids go consistently unnoticed, it creates distance in relationships. People stop trying.
Turning away from your partner’s attempt to connect can be devastating. This is done when you simply miss or don’t understand their attempt to connect. This is another term in Gottman method couples therapy. When your partner makes a bid for connection, do you “turn towards,” “turn away,” or “turn against?” Turning against is rejecting a bid, which is also painful. Additionally, it’s important to know how we feel loved. There are many ways and an interesting read about this is “The 5 love languages” (book by G. Chapman):
- Physical Touch: Hugs, holding hands, sex, physical affection.
- Words of Affirmation: Compliments, words of appreciation.
- Gifts: Small or big tokens to show your love to make your partner feel that even when they are not around, they are on your mind.
- Quality Time: Time connecting without distractions. Talking, being listened to, etc.
- Acts of Service: Doing thoughtful things for each other. If your partner is busy, you wash their car for them, cook them a meal, etc.
Understanding your love language and communicating how you would like to be loved to your partner can open lines of communication and deepen your connection to one another.