Good guys do exist!

How I Almost Missed Out On My “Good Guy” and Tips So You Don’t Miss Yours!

I’m just going to go right out and say it, dating sucks, especially now with all the apps and the swiping and the paradox of choice. However, I don’t think it’s the modern technology, although it doesn’t help, that makes dating suck. It’s more scientific than that. You’ve heard that saying ‘dating is a number game,’ right? It certainly is!

Let’s talk about attachment styles for a minute. Neither one is good or bad (although it may seem that way). Odds are you either will recognize these characteristics in yourself or someone else. The three main attachment styles are as follows:

  • Anxious
    • Wants a lot of closeness in relationships
    • Has a lot of insecurities about rejection
    • Sensitive to small cues and fear the relationship is in jeopardy and that he/she must work to keep you interested
    • Struggles expressing what is bothering him/her
  •  Secure
    • Reliable and constant
    • Naturally expresses feelings for you
    • Not afraid of commitment or dependency
    • Communicates relationship issues well
  • Avoidant
    • Sends mixed signals and doesn’t make intension clear
    • Values independence a great deal
    • Emphasizes boundaries in relationship
    • Has difficulty talking about what’s going on between the two of you

Odds are, you have most likely dated people with an anxious or avoidant attachment style. I know I have certainly dated my share! In fact, I dated so many people with this attachment style, I almost blew my chances when someone with a secure attachment style (my husband–believe it or not) came along!

Don't miss your secure person!

Here’s my story, hopefully you can benefit from hearing it and the lessons I’ve learned from it. Keep in mind, I would consider myself to have an anxious attachment style (at least at this time!) and my husband having a secure attachment style. I will include my inner dialogue and ways my husband calmed my “activated attachment system” as well as some 

See if you can pick up the cues that his attachment style is secure. 

Back in the day, I was a big fan of online dating. It was easier than meeting people in person and I liked the screening process. When my now husband messaged me on a site, I at first did not see it, but then he messaged a few days later and I quickly scanned his profile before responding. We didn’t seem to have much in common, but decided to respond to him anyway. We chatted online for an hour or so then he quickly asked for my phone number that same night. 

“My phone number?! I don’t even know him, he’s moving very fast!”

“What if we talk and he gets bored because we’ve already talked for a while already?”

I gave him my phone number anyway and we talked for a few more hours that night. He said he had a great time talking with me and then asked me on a date for a few days from now. 

“I don’t know about this, I usually like to talk to people more before I meet them.”

“He’s very direct, I don’t know how I feel about that.”

“I bet once he meets me he won’t want to see me again. I don’t know if I am good enough.”

We met and had a wonderful date where we talked and seemed to really hit it off. The next morning, he called and left me a voicemail saying that he had a wonderful time and he wanted to know when I was available next. 

“This is unreal. I meet a nice guy and he tells me right away that he had a great time and wants to make plans with me again right away!”

“What’s his angle here, I’ve never met someone with such clear intensions.”

I messaged him saying I had a great time too and that I was available that next weekend. We called and texted throughout the week, getting to know each other further. He was available to talk during the day (work permitting) and let me complain about my crummy job at the time.

He said he knows he just met me once, but he wants to see where this goes and is planning on canceling any other dates he had lined up for the future. 

“I can’t believe this. No guy has ever been this direct and able to express his feelings so clearly.”

“Do I have to do the same? I am not sure if I like him as much as he likes me…” (no, I did not have to do the same)

“He’s taking a big risk on me, I don’t know if I am worth the risk.”

A close friend warned me about “guys like him.”

Can you pick up on his secure attachment style? How about my anxious one and what I was used to dating in the past (anxious and avoidant men)? Had I listened to my friends and my rather calm but confused attachment system, I may have missed out on someone really special.

A few tips on how to not let a secure person get away:

  • Ask yourself “is this person able and willing to meet my needs?”
    • Do you really like a few texts throughout the day? Are they able to meet that need for you?
    • Do you need to vent about your work? Do they listen to you and not shut you down?
  • How do they react to you expressing your feelings (within reason) for them.
    • Do they shy away from commitment or play games with their feelings?
  • How do they react when you express displeasure with something they did or said?
    • When you effectively communicate that you were disappointed, how open are they to your feedback.
  • Do you know where you stand with this person? Is there very little “drama”?
    • We’ve conditioned ourselves to be used to and welcome the drama, but people with secure attachment styles are upfront with their feelings and can at times seem boring due to the lack of drama. 

Stay tuned for more attachment style insights to help you improve your dating life.

How to be Happy: Compare Yourself to Yourself

As a therapist and a person, I hear time and time again “I just want to be happy” or “I’m not sure why I am not happy.” Upon further discussion it almost always leads to the other person comparing themselves to others around them. Whether it is a single person comparing themselves to all of their paired-up friends or a person in a dead-end job comparing themselves to people they know that are successful. Comparisons.

I’m not sure when humans as a species first learned to compare themselves to others around them but I bet it is similar to Darwin’s “survival of the fittest.” After all, how did we determine who the fittest was or how could we be fitter than the fittest if we first did not compare ourselves to our fellow humans?

This logic might have worked for us back when we had to run from wild animals, but like many evolutionary traits (like the fight or flight response!) they don’t have nearly as much use as they did way back when.

Now, in the modern world, we use that “comparison trait” to compare ourselves to others who already excel in one area where we are weak. Like my earlier examples of single vs. in-a-relationship or in a dead-end job vs. successful. This is not a very fair comparison at all since the other people already have something that you desire. Sometimes this type of comparing can lead to people working harder to surpass others, but more often it leads to unhappiness.

So how does this all relate to happiness?

I’m not sure we can do away with the “comparison trait” all together, but we can turn the focus more inward than outward.

Instead of comparing yourself to what others choose to show you, you can compare your current self to your former self.

Make your own happiness dependent on whether you are growing as a person and completing goals you set out for yourself. Every person is unique and has unique ways they grow. This cannot be fairly compared to the growth or success of someone else. It can be as big as taking a chance and asking someone out that you’ve had a crush on or as small as cleaning your house. Both examples create a sense of personal accomplishment that involves no comparisons.

Three Ways in which to do this:

  1. Start a happiness journal/log and log 3 things you were grateful for that day. Do this for a month and see what happens.
  2. Have a bunch of hobbies you never have time for? Make a list of hobby goals (for yourself!) and set out to accomplish them. ie. learning to cook, learning a new language etc. Make sure it’s easily measurable so you can compare your progress and growth!
  3. Comparing yourself to others looks-wise? Make fitness goals and keep track of your progress. Fitness goals are a good choice because they are about YOU and are easily measurable.

There you have it–whether or not you choose to focus on internal or external happiness is on you.

 

Two Tips on How to Deal with Your Family and Partner During the Holidays

The holiday season brings many joyful times as well as many stressors. Spending time with family is something many of us look forward to enjoying, but depending on our relationship with in-laws and parents, the holidays may not be as rewarding as we hope. Getting married or being in a long-term relationship means you inherit a new set of parents, your partner’s parents, for better or for worse.

Here are two tips that may help you keep your relationship intact when navigating the relationship you have with your in-laws:

1) Discuss holiday schedules ahead of time in a productive way

Figuring out which family you visit or visit first and when should be a decision between the two of you and usually involves a bit of compromising. This is an important step in showing both of your families that you are now separate from them and have formed your own family. John Gottman identified a method called ’the two ovals’ which works well for figuring out holiday schedules.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Draw two ovals, one inside of the other like a donut or a bagel.
  2. In the smaller circle put the family time you are unwilling to compromise on, the things that if you gave up, you’d really regret and feel badly about. Say holiday dinner at your aunt’s house.
  3. In the larger oval put the family time you are more flexible with, like when you visit your grandparents the next town over.
  4. Discuss your ovals with your partner and ask the following questions:
    1. Where you do agree?
    2. What are both of your inflexible areas?
    3. How can you reach a temporary compromise for this holiday season?
  5. Come up with a plan that works for both of you and then tell your families as a united front. 2 Ovals

2) Create a sense of ‘we-ness’ and solidarity with your partner, especially around the holidays.

Tense situations with in-laws and spouses often occur in marriages and sometimes you may wonder where your and your partner’s allegiance lies. You both have been part of another family for a long time; that family has its own holiday traditions and customs. Somewhat of a ’turf war’ between the spouses and in-laws may ignite, both wanting the partner’s attention during the holidays.

One of the main ways to end the war is to create a sense of ‘we-ness’ and solidarity with your partner and side with your partner over your parents. This may mean having to hold your ground and stand up for your spouse and take this or her side over your parents. This may seem harsh, but slowly your parents will adjust to reality and accept that your partner comes first. You are a partner/spouse first and a son/daughter second. Remember which team you are on. 

Here’s a more mild example:

Your father says: “Jane’s mashed potatoes are good, but your mother’s are better aren’t they? I don’t like all of the onions that Jane put in them this year.”

You can say: “Actually, I really like the extra onions, it gives it a more flavorful taste.”

And another example:

Your brother says: “I don’t know why you married Jack, he’s got no personality!”

You can say: “He really opens up once you get to know him. Why don’t you ask him about his fantasy football draft this year?”

This way you are choosing your partner over your parent/relatives. It might seem like a small gesture, but it adds up, especially in the eyes of your partner!

Hopefully these two tips help you navigate the holiday season with your partner.

4 Tips To Have A Great Date

I hear these comments fairly often in my practice:  “I’m not good at dating,” “I never know what to say” or “I can’t get past a 2nd or third date.” I also hear from my couples that their date nights are “boring” or “lacking connection.” Dating isn’t so much about what you say, but more about how you listen. Like Dale Carnegie wrote about in his classic book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, focus on being interested, not interesting. Although this advice was more about being a good salesmen, it can be applied to any relationship you have in your life. Everyone genuinely wants to feel understood and appreciated and nothing makes a person feel more understood than sincerely listening to him or her. If you keep this in mind, it can take some of the pressure off of you to feel like you need to have a bunch of interesting things going on in your life to share with the other person.

Based on John Gottman’s decades of observing people, here are 4 tips on how to have a great date, whether it’s a first date, 10th date, or a date with the spouse you’ve been with for 10 years!

Tip #1 Ask open-ended questions

There is a fine balance between asking a question that is too open such as “What’s up?” or “How’s it going?” People tend to give one word responses to those questions, possibly because they aren’t sure you want to know the full answer. Instead ask questions that are still open but more directed, such as “How has your summer been going? Have any plans for vacations?” It might be a good idea to ask questions about goals or visions of the future.  This will allow you to get to know the person’s aspirations and dreams. Be careful to watch your audience and gage if your questions are uncomfortable for the person and find the right level of disclosure.

“How’s your summer going? Have any vacation plans?”

“If you could have a job in another field, what type of job would you want to have?”

Tip #2 Listen to the person’s answers and find commonalities

As you ask open-ended questions, listen to the person’s answers and share something you have in common with what they are saying. People are more attracted to people who can relate to them and to those people with whom they share common ground. After you share a bit about yourself put the conversation back to them. Share enough to establish commonality and then ask a follow-up question to what they said earlier.

“Oh, you’re a teacher? My roommate is a teacher. He’s getting pretty stressed thinking about this upcoming school year. What do you do to prepare for the beginning of the school year? Maybe I could give him some tips from you.”

If your date had said he or she had returned from a vacation in California, a follow-up might be: “I love California, it’s such a diverse state, something for everyone! When I went there a few years ago we saw the Redwoods, I remember they were so tall and majestic. What did you see when you went there?”

Tip #3 Paraphrase what the person said and show non-verbally that you are listening

If you paraphrase what the person said, it shows them that you are listening. This is also helpful when asking questions or when mentioning a commonality.

“You seem to really love your job! How did you know you wanted to be a veterinarian?”

“You used to live in Lincoln Square? I love that neighborhood and spend a lot of time there! Have any gotta-go to places?”

Another helpful thing to do that shows people you are listening is to nod briefly or respond with a verbal cue “uh huh, yeah?, hmm.”

Tip #4 Let go of your own agenda

Try not to focus so much on the outcome of the conversation. It’s hard to focus on listening when you are trying to come up with your next interesting question to ask the person. Instead, focus on what the other person is saying in that moment and ask follow-up questions to further your understanding of what they are saying. Look for those emotional cues where you can empathize with what they are saying.

Above all, just listen to the other person with your full attention. Your ability to draw people out with a general curiosity about them will go further than if you were the most interesting person in the world.

 

Four Changes You Can Make To Have More Productive Conversations

Have you ever had a conversation with a significant other, a co-worker or a relative and thought “well, that could have gone better…” I know I have! It’s hard bringing up issues with people; maybe that’s why so many of us keep our feelings to ourselves and do not share them with others.

Based on John Gottman’s 40 years of research with couples, here are 4 changes you can make so that your conversations do not turn into arguments or feelings of ill-will.

Change #1

Before even starting the conversation, think to yourself: “What is the specific behavior I want to see changed?” When you start to think about the issue this way, you are already changing what might come off as a criticism into a complaint. Complaints are about specific issues, not about a person’s character.

 

Change #2

Erase the phrase “I feel like…..” from your vocabulary. What usually comes after this phrase? The word YOU. As soon as you add the word “like” you are describing the other person. Your intentions may have been to describe your own feelings, but you are actually criticizing the other person instead.

Instead use the phrase “I feel/felt ______ (identify a feeling) when you do/did ______ (specific behavior). 

By actually stating how you feel, you are more likely to elicit an apology. And let’s be honest, isn’t that what you want?

 

Change #3

Add the phrase “I see your point” to your vocabulary. If the other person starts to get defensive or critical, it’s very easy to get defensive back–almost too easy! Instead try to pick out small parts from what they are saying that you can understand. Saying “I see your point” goes a LONG way when someone is being critical or defensive and can almost instantly decrease the tension in a conversation.

 

Change #4

Never roll your eyes or smirk when having a conversation. These are both signs of contempt and tell the other person that you do not respect or value what they are saying. Although they might not create a blow-up mid conversation, over time these behaviors will chip away at your relationship with that person. These behaviors might be automatic responses for you depending on the person with whom you are talking, so be mindful of when you do them.

 

And there you have it! Try some of these out and see if your conversations turn out much better than you expected!

Fan the Flames in Your Relationship

What would you say if I asked you to describe how you felt about your partner in the beginning of your relationship? Would you remember positive memories of getting to know each other? How you felt excited just to speak with him or her on the phone? How you felt nervous and giddy to see your partner in person for a special date? Listening to a couple describe how they felt about each other earlier on in their relationship is a great measure of the couple’s fondness and admiration for each other. Fondness and admiration are related to affection and how much spouses look forward to being together after being apart. It speaks to how strong their friendship is which is related to passion, intimacy, and good sex.

Often times it is night and day hearing couples describe their feelings about one another when they first started dating compared to how they feel now. As you can imagine, couples whose relationships have deteriorated often rewrite history to only remember the negative aspects of their earlier days. Often describing the things their partner did wrong early on. “She was an hour late for our second date, I looked like an idiot waiting at the restaurant!” “He was so nervous we sat in silence for 10 minutes!” These couples probably did not start out viewing each other this way, but the negativity of the present has crept in to re-write the past. This is indicative of how they view their relationship now. Per John Gottman’s research, re-writing relationship history in a negative light is also predictive of the future of their relationship.

Luckily, it is possible to revive fondness and admiration that has been dwindling for many many years. It takes a cognitive switch, a choice if you will, to view your partner in a more positive and admirable way. Making a choice to scan for the positives instead of the negatives.

We can mentally rehearse all the positive things about our partner’s qualities or we can choose to focus on the negative, annoying, irritating things about their personality. What are you going to focus on? You have a choice.

Here’s a personal example. My husband leaves his dinner dishes on the counter for a long time after he has finished eating dinner. It used to bother me ALL THE TIME. I would come home and those dishes would jump out at me, instantly ruining my mood.

It had to stop. Not his dish leaving habits, but my scanning for his faults.

Instead, I chose to focus on what he was doing right. I would come home after a long day of sessions and he would greet me with a “hey sweetie, I’m glad you’re home.” I chose to focus on that nice greeting, a positive bid for attention, instead of focusing on the dishes. You know what? Soon those dishes did not mean as much to me anymore.

Ways to rekindle affection, fondness, and admiration:

  • Take some time and remember the positive experiences you and your partner had together, the fun times, the adventures and share them with one another.
  • Instead of pointing out what your partner did not do right, point out something that they DID do right.
  • Identify two positive characteristics of your partner and mention to him or her two specific events in which he or she displayed these characteristics

A Simple Way To Be Better Friends With Your Partner

I see this time and time again. A couple will come into my office and tell me that they feel like they don’t even know each other any more, that they feel like “roommates,” or worse that they aren’t even friends. Sadly, this is a very common problem with couples that have been together for a while. Life gets in the way, they don’t take the time to talk to one another, and they drift apart. According to John Gottman’s research, a main culprit of this is that their “love maps” need updating.

Gottman defines love maps as how well someone knows their partner, how detailed their map in their mind is of the other person’s life. Think about when you first met your partner, you wanted to know everything about them! Their favorite food, their pets’ names, the name of their childhood best friend, their hopes, their dreams, their fears! You would ask open-ended questions to find out more about how your partner thinks or feels about certain things. Yes, you were getting to know them but you were also building your love map of their internal world. Then the years passed and now you sit next to your partner and feel like you don’t even know him or her anymore. Many people build a deep love map in the beginning of their relationships but they do not update them regularly.

“Without such a love map you can’t really know your spouse. And if you don’t really know someone, how can you truly love them?”–John Gottman, 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work

Luckily, couples can get to know one another again and update their love maps! I often give couples the homework of deepening their love maps by asking each other a set of questions to learn more about one another, to get to know each other again, and to keep them emotionally connected. When you feel like your spouse knows information about you, it helps you feel cared for, valued, and appreciated.

Here is a quick snapshot of the Gottman Love Map Exercise you can practice with your partner right now!

In the spirit of getting to know your partner again, pick a question and try to come up with the answer, then have your partner gently correct you if you did not guess correctly.

1. Name my two closest friends.
2. What is my favorite musical group, composer, or instrument?
3. What was I wearing when we first met?
4. Name one of my hobbies.
5. Where was I born?
6. What stresses am I facing right now?
7. Describe in detail what I did today or yesterday.
8. What are two of my aspirations, hopes, wishes?
9. Name one of my major rivals or “enemies.”
10.Who is my favorite relative?

Remember, the point of the exercise is not to be right or wrong, but to deepen your understanding of one another.

The next time you feel like you and your partner are “ships in the night” ask yourself if you have taken the time to update your Love Maps!

Questions Asked by Couples Before Starting Counseling

When couples seek counseling they often have questions about my style of counseling as well as my beliefs about relationships and divorce.

I recently got asked what my stance is on divorce. Meaning am I for, neutral,  or against divorce.

  • My stance on divorce would depend on the specific couple. As a couples therapist, I like to think that there is hope for many couples to repair their marriages. The type of couples therapy I use in sessions, the Gottman Method, does provide a roadmap for most couples to do so. The Gottman Method can be used to help couples repair and move past many difficult relationship events (affairs, traumas, etc.). That being said, there are some circumstances that couples therapy is contraindicated such as cases where characterological domestic violence is present.
  • When two people are in a relationship, they will have a set of perpetual unsolvable problems that will continue to come up. Each person has to decide if they are able to live with the other’s unsolvable problems. If they are not, they should probably not be in a relationship together.

Can couples counseling be helpful for couples going through a divorce?

  • Absolutely. It looks a bit different than counseling for couples hoping to stay together. My goal as the therapist would be to reduce the same unhelpful patterns that I would in a couple hoping to continue being married and to help facilitate more productive conversations. Even though you are getting divorced, you still have to be able to exist in each other’s worlds (especially if children are involved). A divorce takes a huge psychological toll on people, and anger and sadness are normal and common emotions. You can be angry at one another without being demeaning, and you can be hurt without turning your relationship absolutely toxic.

How can I trust my partner after they’ve betrayed me?

  • When your partner is unfaithful, your whole sense of self is shattered and you begin to doubt yourself. The person you trusted is now untrustworthy. You doubt your own instincts.
  • A mistake that couples make where one person has been unfaithful is to try to make the unfaithful partner trustworthy again. This leads to the betrayed person checking up on the partner (checking their phone, credit card statements etc.).  Because they cannot trust themselves to trust their partner, the betrayed might make their partner call them every number of hours, send them pictures to make sure they say they are where they said they would be, etc.
  • Instead of focusing on making the other person trustworthy, focus on yourself and your own self-esteem/self-worth. Once you begin to trust yourself again, trusting your partner will come easier.

Hopefully these answers shed some light on the hard questions you may be wondering about before you consider therapy. Feel free to call or e-mail me if you have further questions.

 

Couple Counseling

Couples Counseling

 

The Importance of Emotional Connection During Everyday Activities

It sounds so simple, right? Of course you should spend time with your significant other! You might spend a great deal of time together already! But ask yourself this, is it meaningful? Does it allow you and your partner to emotionally connect? John Gottman calls this “putting deposits in the emotional bank account” and this allows you to bounce back after the next big argument. Think back to the last time you and your partner spent time together. Was your partner emotionally “there” for you during the time? Were you emotionally “there” for your partner?

Take watching your favorite TV show together. Sure, you might both laugh at the same time at something funny that happens or you might both relate to what happened in that episode, but do you take the time to connect during or after the show or do you go your separate ways afterwards?

As people get more comfortable in their relationships and routines are in place, the emotional connection could decrease. I’m not saying that you stop spending time together (although you might!), but you may not be as emotionally present for one another as you were when you were first dating. Instead of reading and discussing the news, you may read the news silently. Instead of talking about the TV episode you watched, you may turn the TV off and go to bed.

To rectify this, in a therapy session I have couples identify what they currently do every day to connect with one another or their “rituals of connection” as John Gottman puts it. These can be simple, everyday occurrences such as making breakfast together, cuddling before waking up, greeting each other when you come home from work, or watching the evening news together. If you and your partner cannot think of any ways you connect throughout the day, you can think about what you used to do when you were first dating and why that was special to you. It is helpful to identify what you are currently doing to connect with one another and why it is meaningful to you. That way your partner knows that you value this activity and you keep doing it! Couples often surprise each other during this exercise. Often, one partner finds a great deal of meaning in something when the other had no idea!

Then the couple identifies activities that they would like to do in the future in which they would like their partner to be more emotionally “there” for them. This is an important activity to do. Even if you have been together for 40 years, your partner cannot read your mind! Keep in mind this is not an activity that allows you to criticize your partner for all of the things you are not doing together; it is one that allows you to say “I love you so much, I want your full emotional presence when we do X” or “I love doing this activity and I really want you emotionally there to share it with me.” It also allows you to know ahead of time what activities are important to your partner and which activities they would be hoping you were more emotionally present for. This allows you to prevent a “withdrawal” from the emotional bank account in the future and could even lead to a deposit!

Remember, every interaction can be made into a way to have a deeper emotional connection with your partner. In doing so, this helps keep the friendship strong, which is the foundation of a supportive and healthy relationship.

Happy connecting, everyone!

What have you done to connect with your partner today?

Tired of Arguing About Nothing in your Relationship?

There are thousands of different ways we ask for attention from our partner or significant other. Some of us may resort to calling each other on the phone or greeting each other with a “Hey, I’m home” when we get home from work. These days it might be through a text message, a “like” on Facebook or a “tweet” on Twitter. No matter how we reach out to our partner, the reason behind it is still the same — we are seeking attention and affirmation.

John Gottman calls these moments “bids for attention.” These little bids might not seem like a big deal, but they add up after a while and can be the difference between feeling supported and cared for by your partner or feeling unhappy and alone in your relationship. In his research, he discusses how arguments or fights are usually started over one person getting upset because the other did not “answer their bid” or give them attention when they reached out for it.

Why do these failed bids result in arguments? Most bids are not delivered overtly;  they are subtle and can often be missed. Bids also may not be delivered so sweetly. A “Hi, I’m home and I want attention after my long day” is more often than not delivered in a “My day at work was horrible! I had back-to-back meetings and am so tired I can’t even think!” If I heard that from my partner, I certainly would not think that my partner wanted my attention!

People also make bids by exhibiting actions or behaviors. These are often very hard to ascertain. They could be made in the presence of a partner with a direct action such as sitting closer to him or her, holding the partner’s hand, hugging him or her or doing something less overt such as sighing. Bids can also be made in advance.  An example would be performing actions that would be helpful for the relationship or partner, such as making dinner, cleaning up, going to the store to get milk, planning a “date night” etc. What results in the arguments is the person that made the bid then gets angry when his or her efforts go unnoticed. Some people make their action bids more well known by throwing a “did you notice I unloaded the dishwasher?” question out there, but usually, nothing is said and those failed bids just keep piling up. These failed bids add up to consequences where the partner who is not getting his or her bids answered becomes more sensitive to the failed bids and usually picks a fight over something they normally wouldn’t pick a fight about. This is when I usually hear the “our fights come out of nowhere” comment from couples.  The fights do not come out of nowhere; they result from one person not getting attention when they bid for it.

An even trickier bid for attention, and in my opinion, the most likely bids to result in an argument, are those bids that we make when we try to get attention by making our partner jealous. If you are not getting attention from your partner, you might be more aware of getting attention elsewhere. Just like the “did you notice I unloaded the dishwasher” comment, one might also point out to a partner “a good-looking woman hit on me today and asked for my number.” What do both of these comments have in common? Both have hidden meanings. Both are saying “I want attention from you.” Why bring up the attention from someone else if you did not want the comment to result in an increase in attention from your partner? Granted, the latter might bring on the emotion of jealousy that clouds the ability to recognize the bid for attention. Just like that bid was not delivered sweetly, the attention from the partner might not be delivered so sweetly either. After all, getting angry at your partner is a form of attention. So the bid did result in attention, but not the kind that was probably wanted.

Why are so many bids (especially bids that involve jealousy) missed? Is it because admitting that we want attention and affirmation from our partners leaves us vulnerable or sounding weak? Is it because simply asking our partner for attention seems silly or childish?

I would argue that if more people started flat out saying to their partners “I want attention” that this would result in the partner answering that bid and giving attention. Try it sometime when you notice your bid is not getting “answered.” Instead of starting an argument, say what you are really desiring, attention.

 

Small things like answering bids make all the difference.

Small things like answering bids make all the difference.