Student Wellness

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Bids for Connection

In Dr. John Gottman’s apartment lab at the University of Washington, he studies how people interact with one another under everyday circumstances.  He has discovered that “bids for connection” happen at a very high rate between partners.  For example, happy couples “bid” 100 times in ten minutes.  What makes the bids so important?  How those bids are made and responded to influences how well that relationship is going to fare over time.

What is a bid for connection? 

As Dr. Gottman explains in his new book, The Relationship Cure, bids can be verbal or non-verbal.  They can be highly physical or come totally from the intellect.  They can be sexual or non-sexual.  The key is that a bid for connection is an attempt to create connection between two people.  Its function is to keep the relationship going forward and in a positive direction.

Bids are the fundamental element of emotional connection. 

The brief quiz below helps you to assess your style of bidding.  More in-depth tests are available in The Relationship Cure.  To take this test, think of a person who is important to you.  Complete each item by indicating how much you agree or disagree with the statement. 

1. I sometimes get ignored when I need attention the most.
strongly disagree
disagree
neutral
agree
strongly agree

2. This person usually doesn't have a clue as to what I am feeling.
strongly disagree
disagree
neutral
agree
strongly agree

3. I often have difficulty getting a meaningful conversation going with this person.
strongly disagree
disagree
neutral
agree
strongly agree

4. I get mad when I don't get the attention I need from this person.
strongly disagree
disagree
neutral
agree
strongly agree

5. I often find myself becoming irritable with this person.
strongly disagree
disagree
neutral
agree
strongly agree

6. I often feel irritated that this person isn't on my side.
strongly disagree
disagree
neutral
agree
strongly agree

7. I have trouble getting this person to listen to me.
strongly disagree
disagree
neutral
agree
strongly agree

8. I find it difficult to get this person to open up to me.
strongly disagree
disagree
neutral
agree
strongly agree

9. I have trouble getting this person to talk to me.
strongly disagree
disagree
neutral
agree
strongly agree

Scoring:
Strongly disagree: 0
Disagree: 1
Neutral: 2
Agree: 3
Strongly agree: 4

Your score for questions 1-3:
Scores below 8 mean that you are direct in your relationship. This is great news for your relationship, because you have the ability to state clearly what you need from this person. If your score is 8 or higher, you may be too reticent in bidding. The other person in your relationship may feel as if they have to be a mind reader to understand what you need.

Your score for questions 4-6:
Scores below 8 mean that you are not overly forceful in expressing what you need from this person. Your relationship benefits from this quality of yours because it's easier for the other person to hear and understand what you need. If your score is 8 or higher, you may be expressing so much anger in your bidding that you are turning this person away. Maybe this is because of past frustrations, or maybe it is the way your personality is.

Your score for questions 7-9:
If your score is below 8, this means you have a high level of trust in your relationship. If your score is 8 or higher, this reflects a problem with the level of trust in your relationship. You may need to do more to win this person's trust. Some people accomplish this by concentrating more on responding to the other person's bids, rather than trying to get the other person to respond to you.

To learn more about bids for connection or about the best ways to respond to bids, you can take quizzes and try exercises in The Relationship Cure by John Gottman and Joan DeClaire.

 How Well Do You Know Your Partner?

One of the most important features of successful couple relationships is the quality of the friendship.  Do you know your partner’s inner world?  Take the quiz below and find out.  If you would like automatic scoring, complete the quiz at this website:  www.gottman.com/marriage/relationship_quiz

  1.  I can name my partner’s best friends.

    Yes          No

  2. I know what stresses my partner is currently facing.

    Yes          No

  3. I know the names of some of the people who have been irritating my partner lately.

    Yes          No

  4. I can tell you some of my partner’s life dreams.

    Yes          No

  5. I can tell you about my partner’s basic philosophy of life.

    Yes          No

  6. I can list the relatives my partner likes the least.

    Yes          No

  7. I feel that my partner knows me pretty well.

    Yes          No

  8. When we are apart, I often think fondly of my partner.

    Yes          No

  9. I often touch or kiss my partner affectionately.

    Yes          No

  10. My partner really respects me.

    Yes          No

  11. There is fire and passion in this relationship.

    Yes          No

  12. Romance is definitely still part of our relationship.

    Yes          No

  13. My partner appreciates the things I do in this relationship.

    Yes          No

  14. My partner generally likes my personality.

    Yes          No

  15. I am satisfied with the level of romance and intimacy.

    Yes          No

  16. At the end of the day my partner is glad to see me.

    Yes          No

  17. My partner is one of my best friends.

    Yes          No

  18. We just love talking to each other.

    Yes          No

  19. There is lots of give and take (both people have influence) in our discussions.

    Yes          No

  20. My partner listens respectfully, even when we disagree.

    Yes          No

  21. My partner is usually a great help as a problem solver.

    Yes          No

  22. We generally mesh well on basic values and goals in life.

    Yes          No

 Your score: ­­____

15 or more (yes) answers: You have a lot of strength in your relationship.  Congratulations!

8 to 14: This is a pivotal time in your relationship.  There are many strengths you can build upon but there are also some weaknesses that need your attention.

7 or fewer: Your relationship may be in serious trouble.  If this concerns you, you probably still value the relationship enough to try to get help.

This quiz highlights elements of what Dr. Gottman refers to as your “love map.”  In his workshops, Dr. Gottman discusses the step-by-step process of making sure that you nurture your friendship with your partner.  In a survey of 200 couples attending a weekend workshop, Dr. Gottman found that the best predictor of passion and romance in a relationship was… you guessed it… the quality of the friendship!

Reproduced with permission from The Gottman Institute, Inc.www.gottman.com/marriage/relationship_quiz
Copyright 2004 The Gottman Institute, Inc.