top of page

Mastering the Art of Connection: Understanding the Gottman's Bidding Concept and the Three Key Responses in Relationships

Couples Therapy | Responses in Relationship | Los Angeles Therapist Elevate Mental Health in Ventura County California

There's Potential Connection in Your Relationship by Mastering these Responses... Let's begin!

In the realm of relationships, one vital skill stands above all others--communication. It's the lifeblood that sustains our most cherished bonds. Drs. John and Julie Gottman, renowned researchers and psychologists, unveiled a concept that serves as a backbone to effective communication - Bidding for Connection.

A "bid" can be any gesture-- a gland, a question, a touch, or a quick joke - that seeks to foster a connection with your partner. Recognizing, understanding, and responding to these bids can lead to stronger and healthier relationships.

The Gottmans identify three primary responses to bids: turning towards, turning away, and turning against. Let's dig deeper into what each of these responses means and what they reflect about your relationship.

1. Turning Towards

This response encompasses actively acknowledging your partner's bid. It's when you give an affirmative response like nodding, making eye contact, or engaging in the conversation your partner initiated. You are essentially saying, I hear you, and I'm here for you." This pattern of positive acknowledgment builds an emotional bank account, representing your relationship's resilience to conflict.

2. Turning Away

Turning away is the opposite of turning towards. It involves ignoring or missing the bid altogether. Perhaps you're distracted, busty, or just not tuned into their frequency. While it is human to occasionally miss a bid, a habit of turning away can lead to feelings of rejection and loneliness, which, over time, could erode trust and connection.

3. Turning Against

The most harmful response is turning again, which entails a hostile or argumentative reaction to a bid. Instead of simply disregarding it like "turning away," turning against involves actively dismissing, criticizing, or belittling your partner's bid. This response can create a hostile environment, breed resentment, and drive a wedge between partners.

Now, we understand that nobody is perfect. You may have found yourself responding negatively to bids from time to time. But here's the silver lining. Understanding these patterns empowers us to change them. You can always choose to cultivate more of the "turning towards" response while being mindful to reduce "turning away" and "turning against."


Relationships can be hard work but worth the effort. Here are some practical steps to help cultivate a positive bid response for connection in your relationship:

Practice Mindfulness: Developing an awareness of bids starts with being present. Try to avoid distractions when your partner is communicating, practice active listening, and tune into their emotional needs.

Empathize: Understand that each bid is rooted in a desire for connection and an expression of vulnerability. Empathizing with your partner allows you to connect on a deeper level and respond positively to their bids.

Be Proactive: Don't wait for your partner to bid. make the first move. By initiating positive interactions, you set the tone for healthier communication and mutual respect.

Remember, the Gottmans' research found that couples who actively "turn towards" each other are more likely to sustain a satisfying, long-term relationship. So let's turn towards and embrace a deeper connection today!

Expert Guidance

Are you interested in learning how to develop more bids in your own relationships? A relationship expert can help make this apply to your life in the most practical an customized way. If you're in the Los Angeles, Ventura County, Santa Barbara or surrounding areas, we would be happy to get you connected with one of our licensed therapists. If you are outside of California then consider searching "therapist near me" to guide you to an experienced couples therapists, well-versed in the Gottman method.

The step to book a session with a professional can help you identify patterns in your relationship and give practical strategies to increase positive bidding. Therapy is also a safe space for couples to practice "Turning towards" behavior with the guidance of a professional. Remember, it's never too late to enrich the connection within your relationship.

Your Team at Elevate Mental Health


10 views0 comments


bottom of page