Ever feel like you might as well be auditioning for love and attention on NBC’s show The Voice?
We might not be holding a mic, singing for a little t.l.c. and approval. But, we do long for affection, emotional support, solidarity, humor, undivided listening, sex and so on. (Yeah, even that goes on offstage.) In the field of couples counseling, this is bluntly referred to as bids.
No surprise, happy couples are twice as likely to notice and respond to their partner’s bid for love and attention, than unhappy couples (Robinson & Price, 1980; Gottman, 1999). Most failed bids are not actively hostile rejections, but distracted forms of turning away. Your best buddy just didn’t notice your bid–if your bid was even very clear or gentle. Veiled bids and demanding bids seldom hit the right notes.
So, the goal is not to see to it that failed bids never happen, because they will.
The goal is, when they happen, to warmly repair them. Neglecting the effort of repair, over the years, wears a couple down until they’re not sure why they’re not singing the same tune anymore or worse.
How To Repair Those Failed Bids
- Be okay with the fact that failed bids happen. Maybe as often as 40% of the time, if research is accurately calculating it.
- So, chat about it as easily as you chat about the latest episode of The Voice
- And even though you will most likely, physiologically, want to pounce and scold–or come back at the pouncer–take a deep breath, literally, to lessen your reactivity.
How To Lessen Reactivity and Chat
- Specify the way you feel like your buddy just ignored or rejected you, without wagging your finger.
- You know you’re not wagging a scolding finger when you are instead saying what your underlying core need was in the first place: i.e., reassurance, comfort, attention. . .? Maybe even why it’s especially important to you: i.e., difficult day at work, feeling low about parenting, feeling old, or maybe feeling uncertain about Adam Levine’s contestants on The Voice. Just try to know your Self well enough to share.
- Contemplate possible projection & blame. We frequently blame our partner’s for stuff that we subconsciously self-loathe or fear.
- Come up with ways together to signal that a bid got missed. Something lighthearted works best. Some silly secret-code phrase like, “Christina Aguilera is back on The Voice, and she be like–!”