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Bids or bidding refers to any behavior our partner(s) may do in an attempt to foster connection and/or receive attention. Bids can be verbal, nonverbal, physical, or nonphysical.

  •  Non-verbal/Physical Bids: Smile, gaze, touch, squeeze, hug
  • Verbal/Non-physical Bids: Direct asks/questions, signs statements, or exclamations

Examples of Bids

There are various types of bids, which include attention, affection, conversation, quality time, and sexual intimacy. Attention: Can I have some advice on this issue? Affection or physical touch: I would like to cuddle. Conversation: Did you hear about the new issue with ___? Quality time: It’s been a while since we have gone on a date. Sexual intimacy: You look really sexy in that new outfit.

Responding to Bids

The Gottmans say that there are different ways of responding (or not responding) to our partner’s bids. We turn towards this when we acknowledge and accept our partner’s bid attempts. We turn away when we miss or reject our partner’s bid attempts.

Turning Towards

We will likely miss more bids than not. However, every bid is a chance to positively or negatively impact our relationship. When we accept our partner’s bids, we deepen our connection and intimacy with them. Bid Attempt: “Did you see the preview for that new movie?” Accepted bid: “Yes, I did. It looks really good!” Enthusiastically accepted bid: “Yes, I did. We should get tickets to see it when it comes out!”

Turning Away

When we turn away from our partners’ bids, we can erode the intimacy in our connection with them. Bid Attempt: “It’s been a while since we’ve had a date.” Rejected bid: “What are you talking about? It hasn’t been that long.” Missed bid: “Hey, by the way, I have to work late tomorrow.”

Turning Towards vs. Away

Turning towards is the optimal response to our partner’s bids. When we turn towards it leads to more bids being made. Rejected bids may be hurtful, but they are still better than missed bids as there is still a response to the bid, providing an opportunity for repair. Missed bids, on the other hand, can be detrimental as they often lead to fewer bids being made. With fewer bids being made, fewer opportunities exist to deepen connections with our partners.

Learning to Turn Towards

It can be difficult to turn towards your partner each time they make a bid. However, there are things you can do to get better at it. Listen to your partner when they are speaking. Limit distractions (phones, games, work, etc.) when they are speaking. Practice making and accepting bids (even if it feels forced) until you both get into the groove. Reflect on yourself, your partner, and your relationship: What does it feel like when my partner misses or rejects my bids? Do I know what my partner’s bids look like?



While our physical offices are located in South Loop and Lakeview neighborhoods in Chicago, Illinois for in-person sessions, we also welcome and serve clients for online therapy from anywhere in Illinois and Washington, D.C. Clients from the Chicagoland area may choose in-office or online therapy and usually commute from surrounding areas such as River North, West Loop, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lake View, Rogers Park, Logan Square, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Little Village, Bronzeville, South Shore, Hyde Park, Back of the Yards, Wicker Park, Bucktown and many more.  

This page is also part of the Roamers Therapy Glossary; a collection of mental-health related definitions that are written by our therapists.


While our offices are currently located at the South Loop neighborhood of Downtown Chicago, Illinois, we also welcome and serve clients for online therapy from anywhere in Illinois and Washington, D.C. Clients from the Chicagoland area may choose in-office or online therapy and usually commute from surrounding areas such as River North, West Loop, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lake View, Rogers Park, Logan Square, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Little Village, Bronzeville, South Shore, Hyde Park, Back of the Yards, Wicker Park, Bucktown and many more. You can visit our contact page to access detailed information on our office location.