Building Connection in Relationships: Navigating Bids for Intimacy

just some of the ways we help people in relationships when looking for couples therapy in west hollywood

Keaton Flicker AMFT

8/15/20233 min read

Have you ever felt like you and your partner are speaking different love languages? At Couples Therapy West Hollywood, we sometimes work like Google Translate for partners and relationships:

What Is A Bid For Connection?

A bid for connection is a gesture, action, or communication made by one person in a relationship to seek closeness and intimacy with the other person. The capacity to both send and receive bids for connection is how we establish closeness, communication, sensuality, and deep bonding with our partner. We are constantly exchanging bids for connection, whether we are aware of it or not. These exchanges can range from subtle non-verbal interactions to explicit verbal conversations. Physical touch, shared hobbies or activities, emotional discussions, and even playful teasing are all ways we invite and welcome our partners to connect.

Common Misunderstandings in Relationships

It's natural for misunderstandings to occur from time to time, and you might not always notice your partner's attempts to get close. Or perhaps you send a flirtatious signal their way, and they miss it. What happens next? Do you interpret their lack of response as rejection? Do you maybe turn away from their next invitation in retaliation? Suddenly, we find ourselves in a cycle of hurt feelings and distance that undermines the foundation of trust in a relationship. Does this sound familiar?

It's a common issue and is often at the heart of many couples' problems that I address in my therapy practice in West Hollywood. Whether in newer or long-term relationships, many couples find themselves distant and defensive because they are caught in a harmful cycle of misinterpretation, silence, and pain. Thankfully, this cycle can be broken and healed, especially with the help of a couples therapist. One of the quickest ways to improve your connection with your spouse or partner is to examine your own expectations. Suppose your partner has just made a bid for connection that isn't what you wanted or expected. Can you still recognize and accept their request for closeness? More importantly, can you do so without sacrificing your own desires or feeling resentful? For example, it's Friday night. You've been eagerly anticipating going out with your partner and some friends. You've been daydreaming all day about what food or drinks you and your partner will order, what you'll wear, and how you'll feel together out on the town. After a long week, you finally get home from work. You walk in the door, and your partner is feeling down, lying on the sofa, clearly not dressed or in the mood to go out tonight. They mention they have a headache and motion for you to come sit with them.

Pause. What are you feeling? What do you do? What do you say? This moment encapsulates the art of nurturing and maintaining love in a relationship. Even a brief interaction like this can become complicated if we are not mindful of our expectations! When it comes to intimacy, I believe every moment matters. Every rupture presents an opportunity to repair, even a little better than before. HERE ARE SOME WAYS YOU CAN FOSTER YOUR CONNECTION WITH YOUR PARTNER WITHOUT NEGLECTING YOUR OWN FEELINGS IN THIS SITUATION: WITH YOURSELF:

Fostering Connection In Couples Counseling

1} Embrace your emotions (disappointment, frustration, relief)

2} Recognize your own hopes and expectations.

3} Understand that your partner is inviting you to be close, EVEN IF IT IS DIFFERENT FROM WHAT YOU WANTED.


1} Reflect what you are seeing and hearing. Most importantly, DO NOT IGNORE THEIR REQUEST FOR CLOSENESS EVEN IF YOU ARE ANNOYED. · If possible, sit next to them, touch them, share non-verbal closeness. · If you are emotionally upset, you can still respond to their bid for intimacy after taking a break. "I see you're seeking some affection, let me join you on the couch in five minutes."

2} Share your own emotions, "I'm so sorry you have a headache, and I'm really disappointed that you don't feel like going out tonight. I was really looking forward to it."

3} Work together on a compromise. · Maybe you go out and they stay home, or maybe you both stay home and plan to go out with your friends over the upcoming weekend. · Whatever you choose, decide together and try to avoid pretending that "everything is fine," attacking, or withdrawing from each other in the process. By checking in with your partner's expectations and sharing your distress, you have actually sent back a bid for connection to them! — While actively preventing future resentment and fostering more generosity in your relationship! Remember, these are learned skills. With every partner, you are building new or weakened emotional muscles—so it may take some time to become natural and effortless.

These are the kinds of small yet impactful techniques for cultivating chemistry that I offer my clients in my Couples Therapy practice in West Hollywood. I assist both individuals and couples in transforming toxic dynamics into secure, playful relationships.