Relationship Minute: The Emotional Risk-Taker

Bids are attempts at connection between partners. When they don’t go as planned, it’s frustrating for both people. If your partner keeps missing your bids, there’s a chance your bids are not as clear as you think.

In “The Relationship Cure,” Dr. John Gottman explains that partners who make subtle bids or “dance around issues” are likely trying to avoid emotional risk. After all, “openly bidding for connection can make us feel vulnerable,” he says. “Our hearts and egos are on the line.”

This “fuzzy bidding,” as he calls it, can look like being purposely ambiguous (“I’m fine with either”), negative framing (“Well, if you’d wash a dish once in a while, I wouldn’t be so cranky”), or not saying what you want at all.

Your partner is not a mindreader and most likely does not respond well to criticism veiled as expressing a need. While you may think you’re avoiding confrontation or rejection by making fuzzy bids, such interactions can increase the odds of both of you feeling hurt and misunderstood.

Make a commitment to be an emotional risk-taker when it comes to bids. Think about how you ask your partner for their attention and consider ways that are more direct (such as “I’d rather us stay home tonight” or “I’m really tired. I need time with you and some help around the house”). It’s vulnerable to put yourself out there. However, the safety of a healthy partnership is the perfect place to start.

Related Blog Posts:

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