A quarreled couple is sitting on the couch, the man is using a mobile phone, the woman is offended.
Published On: March 13, 2023|Categories: Mental Health|

Every culture has their own unique beliefs and traditions around why social connection is important, as well as their own preferences around how to foster that connection. The constant truth in every culture regardless is that human connection is essential for thriving.

When it comes to maintaining and deepening the connection with your partner, the attempts you make towards your partner in the pursuit of that connection are called emotional bids. 

These bids often go unnoticed, and while no one can be expected to perfectly recognize and fulfill every bid, constantly missing, neglecting or outright rejecting your partner’s bids can take a real toll on the relationship.

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at emotional bidding, why it’s so important within relationships and how you can start improving your emotional bidding efforts today.

What is an emotional bid?

An emotional bid is an attempt a person makes to connect with another person. In most cases, emotional bidding is a term used to describe the interactions between romantic partners, as opposed to platonic or familial relationships.

Emotional bids can be verbal or nonverbal, direct or indirect, conscious or subconscious, and they can manifest in many different ways. The success or failure of these attempts largely depends on how consistently and positively these bids are responded to, and those responses can either aid in strengthening or dissolving the bond between partners.

Emotional bids are important not only because they improve communication skills, but in doing so, they help eliminate the toxic mentality of expecting our partner to be able to read our minds and anticipate our every need. No one is perfect — that’s why we communicate.

Why is emotional bidding important?

Emotional bidding is important because, above all, it improves the essential relationship skill of communication.

When you think back on recent arguments or other hurtful moments with your partner, how many of those situations occurred because someone wasn’t listening or appropriately responding to the other person, or someone felt that way? Probably a fair amount.

Feeling listened to, being truly heard, having someone genuinely strive to understand you is not simply something that’s nice to have, it’s a vital part of relationship satisfaction.

Examples of emotional bids

Everyone is going to have their own style when it comes to emotional bidding, so it’s beneficial to pay attention to which bids your partner tends to use most, or use in certain circumstances.

Common examples of emotional bids include:

  • Asking questions that show direct interest in the other person
  • Simple requests, such as asking for a napkin or a glass of water
  • Sighing heavily as a prompt to discuss something
  • Asking seemingly random questions, or describing the scenery
  • Physical touch (ranging from a brush on the arm to sexual intimacy)

How we respond to these emotional bids is just as important as the emotional bids themselves. On the flip side an indifferent, negative or minimal response can be hurtful.

Common examples of harmful responses include:

  • Walking away, slamming doors
  • Dismissive or noncommittal gestures and noises
  • Short or disinterested responses, such as “whatever” or “fine”
  • Blatantly annoyed or angry reactions
  • “Bulldozing” over the bid with personal news
  • Bare-minimum responses that make the other feel a bit rejected

If someone feels like their partner doesn’t care about how they feel or what they have to say, that person likely will stop sharing those things and begin withdrawing, which leads to greater intimacy issues.

If you and your partner are struggling to build or deepen a connection, committing to strengthening your emotional bidding skills is a great place to start. We’re here to help.

Receive help today

The Light Program specializes in offering premier counseling services and structured outpatient programs to adults ready to foster long-lasting positive change and healing in their lives.

To speak with an advisor and learn more about how we can best help you achieve your goals, send us a message or call us directly today.

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