Relationship Minute: The Autopilot Partner

If you’ve been together a long time, it’s easy to be on “autopilot.” You’re so used to the way you speak and interact with each other that you stop mindfully listening to what the other says.

Do these exchanges sound familiar?

Your Partner: “What a beautiful sunset.”
You: “Uh huh. Did you put the trash out?”


You: “I’m concerned about Sam. I don’t know what to do.”
Your Partner: “Yeah, I bet… What’s for dinner?”

You can turn away from a bid by absentmindedly responding to your partner or replying when you didn’t really hear what they said. This can lead to built-up tension and even full-blown conflict, especially if your partner feels unheard and rejected.

This turning away is often unintentional. You may not even be aware that you missed a bid because, such as the first example, your mind was on the trash and their mind was on the sunset.

Talk to your partner about a time that either one of you was on “autopilot.” If you had the chance again, how would you respond?

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute.Visit their website.