2) Bid wrapped in a negative emotion –
Bids can be positive, and as you’ve seen with protest behavior, bids can be negative as well. Negative bids often cause us to react negatively and miss the hidden plea for connection.
For example, Stephanie says to her husband, James, “it would never occur to you to load the dishwasher, would it?” As a result, James misses her bid “please load the dishwasher.” He only hears criticism. So it makes sense when he responds defensively by saying, “like you ever fill up the gas tank in the car?” His response is only escalating the argument.
What if James responded by saying, “Oh, I’m sorry. I’ll do it.” and then loaded the dishwasher? He’d probably score major brownie points and earn a guilty smile from his wife, who would realize that her harsh comment was uncalled for.
Before you reply defensively to your partner, pause for a moment and search for a bid underneath your partner’s difficult words. Then focus on the bid, not the delivery. You can say, “I want to respond positively to what you said, so can you please let me know what you need from me? I want to know.” That phrase is a powerful way to demonstrate you are responsive and response-able to your partner’s needs.
If bids laced with criticism are a habit in your relationship and negativity is blocking the bids, work on softening how you start your conversations.
3) Missing the bid in protest behavior –
When my partner back in college called me 34 times in one night, I dismissed her bid for connection and the opportunity to hear what she really needed: the emotional security that I was there for her.
If I were to experience this again, I would slow down and ask my partner what her fear is. This would uncover her attachment need so I could soothe her and work with her to provide her the reassurance she needed to trust that I wasn’t going to abandon her.
When your partner protests, don’t call them crazy. Don’t call them a selfish asshole for withdrawing, but instead ask what is going underneath their behavior to uncover their hidden need.
4) Tech Neglect –
Because of the fact that many of us are available via email during non-work hours and constantly check social media, many of us have developed a sort of addiction in being distracted. Our intimate relationships suffer because we are deprived of being aware and available to respond to each other. For couples that really struggle with this, I’ve found creating a designated “no-tech, all-connection time” really helps turn things around.
Helping Your Partner Be Response-Able to Your Needs
How you express your needs determines how your partner may meet your needs.
1. Anxious Lover
If you are an anxious lover who has trouble expressing your needs, working to be direct and openly express yourself will not be easy, but it’s necessary to create the relationship you want. As Rosenberg, author of Nonviolent Communication says, “if we don’t value our needs, others may not either.”
To achieve lasting love you have to tune into your deepest needs and longings and be able to honestly communicate them with your partner in a non-attacking and non-demanding way. Anxious lovers often make demands of their partners or use ultimatums to control them. This kind of behavior gives our partner two options: to rebel or surrender.
As a result, the relationship fills with resentment rather than your partner willingly meeting your needs. Learning how to express yourself in a healthy and honest way is vital to changing the toxic dynamics in your relationship
Our attachment needs and fears are hidden agendas that dictate our behavior but rarely are they truly acknowledged. By intentionally acknowledging our needs, we can actively shape the love in our relationship that we so badly need.