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Fascinating article: Do you 'turn towards' your DP's 'bids', or 'turn away' from them?

(117 Posts)
nrv0us Tue 11-Nov-14 13:02:33

I don't normally read a lot of articles about relationships, but this one really hit home. It's a variation on that whole idea that 'contempt is the #1 relationship killer,' but it expands that to really go into what that contempt (or its opposite) looks like.

It's got a fairly Clickbait-y title, but I thought it was really insightful and just thought I'd share it here. Do you recognise your relationship anywhere in here?

bearhug Tue 11-Nov-14 13:06:48

Can't read this without promising to pay $$$$ to Business Insider!

TheHermitCrab Tue 11-Nov-14 13:13:14

Wants you to sign up for a trial.... no can do!

1lov3comp5 Tue 11-Nov-14 13:16:28

I'm wavering between thinking it's interesting and thinking it's common sense... Seems kind of obvious to me that if you aren't any way kind or interested in your partner (or vice versa) then it probably won't last but I feel I'm over-simplifying it by saying that.
<realises she's offered nothing of value and retreats out of the thread!>

nrv0us Tue 11-Nov-14 13:16:44

Hm. Weird. I linked to it from a friend on FB and I don't have a subscription.

1lov3comp5 Tue 11-Nov-14 13:17:05

It's not asking me to sign up to anything, it must know I'm poor grin

Poledra Tue 11-Nov-14 13:17:31

You can bypass the advert - look at the top right hand corner of the screen, it allows you to continue to the article.

SpanielofDoom Tue 11-Nov-14 13:17:58

Ditto PPs.

Quitelikely Tue 11-Nov-14 13:21:09

I read it. Interesting

BOFster Tue 11-Nov-14 13:31:31

Really interesting article. I definitely agree that being kind and generous towards each other is absolutely key to staying happy together. It's why, after ten years with DP, I don't think of us as ever having argued- we have, of course, but it's been rare, and when it's happened we have genuinely been trying to sort out a disagreement rather than trading harsh words and criticism. You do both have to share the same attitude to your relationship though; I don't think one person can make it work on their own.

nrv0us Tue 11-Nov-14 13:41:37

From the article, describing a study in which the researchers observed individual couples for a whole day:

Throughout the day, partners would make requests for connection, what Gottman calls “bids.” For example, say that the husband is a bird enthusiast and notices a goldfinch fly across the yard. He might say to his wife, “Look at that beautiful bird outside!” He’s not just commenting on the bird here: he’s requesting a response from his wife — a sign of interest or support — hoping they’ll connect, however momentarily, over the bird.

The wife now has a choice. She can respond by either “turning toward” or “turning away” from her husband, as Gottman puts it. Though the bird-bid might seem minor and silly, it can actually reveal a lot about the health of the relationship. The husband thought the bird was important enough to bring it up in conversation and the question is whether his wife recognizes and respects that.

People who turned toward their partners in the study responded by engaging the bidder, showing interest and support in the bid. Those who didn’t — those who turned away — would not respond or respond minimally and continue doing whatever they were doing, like watching TV or reading the paper. Sometimes they would respond with overt hostility, saying something like, “Stop interrupting me, I’m reading.”

These bidding interactions had profound effects on marital well-being. Couples who had divorced after a six-year follow up had “turn-toward bids” 33 percent of the time. Only three in ten of their bids for emotional connection were met with intimacy. The couples who were still together after six years had “turn-toward bids” 87 percent of the time. Nine times out of ten, they were meeting their partner's emotional needs.

OhFrabjousDay Tue 11-Nov-14 13:49:22

It is an interesting article, but feels like it's stating the obvious to me. Of course two people repeatedly ignoring each other is not the basis of a healthy relationship!

I think the most important bit was where it mentioned dealing with conflict with kindness. Yes, it's ok to disagree and get cross with each other, but not to say mean things or sulk or get aggressive.

nrv0us Tue 11-Nov-14 13:53:12

Yeah, I liked that part too. The whole difference between 'passive constructive' and 'active constructive' is interesting. Made me think of what I tell me kids about there being a difference between the 'messy way of tidying' (jam all the mess into drawers and under beds) vs the 'tidy way of tidying' (put things where they go). In both situations you have a clean room, but one just feels better, deeper. Same with supporting your partner. You can say 'Oh wow, great,' which is technically a positive response, or you can really be truly positive on a bit more of a fundamental level.

ouryve Tue 11-Nov-14 13:57:55

It's hardly describing something subtle, is it? I was expecting something inciteful, not stating the bleeding obvious.

In our case, DH would be rambling on with some observations about the bird and I'd have to ask him what bird, where. His theory of mind can be a little lacking at times, though.

nrv0us Tue 11-Nov-14 14:04:46

I suppose some of it is fairly obvious, but I just like how it is framed and presented. I guess what I'm saying is I learned a lot, so thought I'd share it here.

BloodontheTracks Tue 11-Nov-14 14:08:45

I really like the article, nrv, thanks. it speaks to me a lot about why being in a relationship with someone socially inept can be very very lonely. Because just making an observation can be a bid for affection, whereas to some people, it's just a descriptive statement, not really worthy of a response. After a while you stop trying to connect on that level because it's undermining somehow, deep down, and experienced as a rejection, even if that wasn't how it was intended. And you stop pointing things out, and you get quieter and lonelier. And that's how people end up sitting in a restaurant eating an entire meal in silence, crying inside, wondering why they're still together.

nrv0us Tue 11-Nov-14 14:10:25

Oof, BotT -- sounds like you're speaking from experience.

BloodontheTracks Tue 11-Nov-14 14:11:20

One might even point out the positive, inclusive bid the OP made here in referencing her own relationship struggled and the temptation to post passive destructive responses!

ArgyMargy Tue 11-Nov-14 14:11:42

Gosh some of you people couldn't wait the entire 11 seconds it takes for the advert to disappear…

This article generated a "yeah, and?" kind of response in me. Somewhat overcomplicating a very simple concept that if couples are nice to each other then they're more likely to stay together. And the idea that anyone might say "I feel really bad about picking on your lateness" is laughable.

BloodontheTracks Tue 11-Nov-14 14:12:06

ha, yes, but also observed a lot of it in the older generations I grew up around.

nrv0us Tue 11-Nov-14 14:13:14

OttT -- 'his', not 'her,' but otherwise, yeah, that did cross my mind. smile

Canyouforgiveher Tue 11-Nov-14 14:13:53

Interesting. I don't think it is stating the obvious really. There were lots of couples studied who presumably fell in love, got married, thought they were a loving couple, hoped to stay married at the time of the study and yet 6 years later were divorced. It wasn't obvious to them that their behaviour was an indication of rocky times ahead. Presumably at the time the spouses were ignoring the "bids" they thought they were being kind and generous to each other. I thought the point of the article was you can be aware of that behaviour and deliberately try to be kinder, show more interest etc.

ouryve Tue 11-Nov-14 14:16:35

I suppose one thing that did stick out for me was how many of those newlywed couples were already displaying the more destructive forms of behaviour towards each other. It does make you wonder how many people simply get caught up in the quest to satisfy a social expectation of being married, or maybe think they have to make do because their biological clock is ticking.

nrv0us Tue 11-Nov-14 14:17:44

Cyfh -- That was a big take-away for me, too. In medical research a lot of people are looking for biomarkers -- telltale early signs (invisible on the surface) that indicate a disease may be developing, long before the more overt physical symptoms start to appear. The whole 'turning away' vs 'turning towards' thing seems like a decent example of a relationship biomarker.

Again, not presenting this as earth-shattering news, just never really seen it presented this way before.

BloodontheTracks Tue 11-Nov-14 14:20:36

Yes, I agree, canyou, surely the difficult thing isn't to 'be nice', we all know we should do that, although what is means is debatable. But the crucial thing here is to recognise a bid when it happens and to have the generosity in that moment to be present and available for it. That's quite specific. That's what's tricky. And as I alluded above, for me just the reaction of some people to dismissing and rejecting the OP's original bid of posting, valid as all opinions are, is quite an enlightening indicator of which side of the fence they might fall in relationships generally.

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