It’s important to feel that our partner notices or responds to our needs. This is referred to as “Turning Towards” ones’ “Bids for Connection” in the Gottman literature. Bids for connection include attempts to get our partner’s attention, interest, or support.
For example, you may think that your partner doesn’t notice when you need to get your partner’s attention, of if you need to talk about something, or to joke, play, and have fun. If this goes on long enough, it is possible for resentments to leak into every interaction. As a result, it is critical that you work on recognizing and positively responding to bids for connection.
The Gottmans found in their research that successful couples “turn towards” each other’s bids for connection 85% of the time, while unsuccessful, unhappy couples only “turn towards” each other’s bids 35% of the time.
Another possibility is that your partner’s interest and enthusiasm has rarely matched yours. If so, it can be difficult to create enough safety and trust in the relationship in order to correct this imbalance until any past failed bids for connection have been fully processed, especially those that have felt like emotional injuries or betrayals. This can take a long time to repair and may require the assistance of a trained therapist, so be patient.
Sometimes partners innocently don’t recognize when a bid for connection is being made. In these instances, you will need to talk with your partner about the various ways you like to make your bids for connection, in order for your partner to recognize these as genuine bids.
Sometimes, partners believe that needs should be able to be recognized and responded to without being expressed (i.e., loving partners should be able to read each other’s minds). In these instances, it’s important to remember that this belief is a myth.
You should also explore each other’s family history regarding getting your needs met and whether or not it was ok to express needs. There is a strong correlation between having a childhood history of not being able to express one’s needs and having a fear about expressing needs.