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The Gottman Method of couples counseling has many interesting concepts that address some of the ways that our behaviors play a role in relationship satisfaction. One of those concepts is called “bids.” Multiple times throughout the day, a partner uses these “bids” with the other partner, and how the other partner responds to these bids plays a key role in how happy both partners feel about each other.

What Are Bids?

“Bids” is shorthand for the need for some type of positive interaction with a partner. When a person makes a “bid,” they are typically asking for something like attention, love, support, affection, or intimacy. Examples might include reaching for a partner’s hand or asking the partner to cook with them. Sometimes, the bids are not necessarily a request, but the beginning of something, like asking a question to them when they walk into a room like “how was work?”

Bids occur many, many times during the day, often by both partners.

What Are “Bid Responses?”

When one partner makes a “Bid,” the other partner is tasked with responding. According to the Gottman Method, bids may receive the following three response types:

  • Turning Towards – Turning towards the bid is the act of responding to the bid at all. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the person engages with each bid, but it does mean that there is a positive acknowledgment, gesture, or some type of interaction that indicates that the bid has been received.
  • Turning Away – Turning “away” in this case means ignoring the bid or not responding positively. For example, not moving when someone reaches to hold hands or staring at their phone instead of responding to a question. Turning “away” is not necessarily a hostile gesture, but showing disinterest or not prioritizing the response to a bid.
  • Turning Against – Turning “against” is actively rejecting the bid. These have a bit of a hostile component, such as purposefully moving a hand away, negatively responding to a question, or pushing someone away when they move in for a kiss. 

Turning away or turning against are both potentially damaging to the relationship. But it should be noted that these actions are not always conscious or designed to be hostile. Sometimes, it is an action taken because they do not have an awareness that their partner is making a “Bid.” 

How Responding to Bids Can Improve Relationships

When a couple is having problems, the therapist may look at examples of these bids and work with the couple to teach a higher frequency of positive bid responses. The goal is to teach the idea of “turning toward” more often. Couples that “Turn Toward” and respond more positively to bids are more likely to feel positive and more connected in their relationship. By improving this intimacy, the couple is more likely to feel happy and satisfied with their partner. 

If you’re interested in couples counseling and/or the Gottman Method, please contact Flourish Psychology, today. 

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