Synopsis: How pitching and catching love bids makes an enormous difference starts our discussion; followed by what love bids are; and finally ending with the super significance of well caught and well returned bids; more.
Pitching and Catching Love Bids Makes All the DifferenceAcross the crowded room Michael glanced at Grace, then briefly smiled and nodded ever so slightly in her direction. Grace coyly smiled back as she gave a slow subtle return nod. Such a small, quick interaction but it made both Michael and Grace feel slightly elated and a bit more emotionally connected. Both thought about how good their love relationship was and how glad they were to have it all these many years.
They both then moved through the gathering toward each other and went happily home earlier than they had planned, enjoying each other all the way. Because Michael had ‘pitched’ Grace a little behavioral “bid” for love connecting and Grace ‘caught’ it well and pitched one back, this couple had one of their many, excellent, loving evenings together, feeling close and intimately connected.
Nan and Buck did not fare nearly as well. Buck was eating an early lunch at work when Nan called and said, “Let’s go to lunch together”.
Buck, lost in his work, said a rather abrupt, “No, I’m already eating here at my desk. Is there anything else?”. Nan feeling discounted and rebuffed mumbled a goodbye and ended the call. After work, Nan decided to get a drink with some of her fellow workers and went on to spend the evening flirting and dancing, and then got home rather late. Waiting at home, Buck felt lonely, a bit worried and then a bit angry.
When Nan came in he greeted her with a very critical, parent-like, “Where have you been. You should have called if you were going to be late”. Feeling criticized like a child, she lied saying she had to work late and she was going to bed because she was really “wiped out”. Now both of them felt lonely and rebuffed.
Had Nan pitched her bid for love connecting in a much more clear fashion like, “I really want a little personal, close, ‘us’ time together. Let’s use today’s lunch time for that. Okay?”. Had Buck been more aware and ‘caught’ and understood Nan’s ‘love bid’ for what it was, a chance for a love connection experience, they might have done as well as Michael and Grace but sadly they didn’t.
Research is showing that the ‘pitching and catching’ of love bids may be crucial to the success or failure of many love relationships. This is true not only for couples but also parents and children, family relationships, deep close friends and even with pets. There even is evidence that love bidding also may occur in the animal world, especially among mammals.
What Are Love Bids?
Simply put, a love bid is any action aimed at initiating an
experience of mutual love connection. It can be as simple as a wink, an
intimate tone of voice, a tender touch, a welcoming gesture or an
inviting smile. It can be a bid for love connecting by way of showing
and sharing humor, ideas, affection, excitement, fun, silliness,
conversation, empathy, affirmation, self-disclosure, caring, support,
catharsis or just time together.
Love bids often are subtle but they also can be quite clear and obvious. They are accomplished by both verbal and expressional (non-verbal) behaviors. They help fill one of love’s major purposes, that of healthful connection (see mini-love-lessons “A Functional Definition of Love”). Love bids, well pitched and well caught, and then returned again help us come together, get happy together and help bring about the best and most important of love nurturing and emotionally nourishing experiences.
Love Bids and Love Success
There is research from the pioneering and famed Gottman Institute
that shows successful couples tend to connect and interact 86% or more
of the time when one partner or the other makes a bid for love
relationship connection; success here is defined as a couple being
together six or more years. Failing couples, those who break up or
divorce in less than six years, connect after a bid for connection is
made, on average, only 33% of the time or less. That is only one of an
increasing number of findings from a growing body of large-scale,
long-range, ongoing research efforts in a wide number of fields working
to discover what succeeds in love relationships.
A considerable amount of growing evidence points to this conclusion. Love bids and love connecting experiences are vital for maintaining and growing healthy, real love relationships. The maintenance of ongoing relationships, the healing of damaged relationships and living balanced and healthfully in active relationships is crucially affected by how well people in these relationships ‘pitch and catch’ their bids for love connecting.
Subtle Bids for Love ConnectingJennifer looked up and in whispered tones said, “Aren’t the clouds beautiful”? She was making a small, subtle bid for her husband to briefly connect with her in a sharing appreciation, love experience. She was purposefully making it small and subtle because, to her, it seemed more intimate and romantic that way. Perhaps it also seemed safer protecting her from being obviously rejected if he didn’t catch it or reacted somehow negatively.
If Jennifer’s husband made absolutely no response to her bid she might see him as being insensitive, not valuing her, perhaps upset with her, or even evidence of him not loving her. If Jennifer’s husband responded with something like, “No, I actually don’t like those clouds, they look like a storm is brewing and that’s going to ruin our barbecue plans for tonight”. That would have been better than no response at all. Even though it presents disagreement, it involves replying and interacting with her about what she said, and that is more of a love connecting than not responding at all.
If he added to his disagreement statement, terms of endearment like Sweetheart or Darling, along with pleasant tones of voice, it could be considered quite loving. That might have met Jennifer’s desire to be dealt with, and connected with, as someone who is loved by her husband. It, therefore, would have been a love nourishment and bonding experience, better by far than silence.
If Jennifer’s husband responded by putting an arm around her, and pulled her closer as he also looked at the clouds and then kissed her on the cheek, that would have given her the love connection that her bid actually was aimed at producing. If he had added words like, “I feel so close to you when we see beautiful things together”, that might have made for an intimate moment of superb, love connection.
The pitching and catching of subtle love bids sometimes can be something of an art form. It may involve all sorts of intriguing, enjoyable, enticing and surprising, artfully delivered, variations. It also can be quite spontaneous and even unconsciously done. Without even knowing it, a sad look can be a bid for supportive, caring, love connecting.
Obvious Bids for Love ConnectionWhile subtle bids for love connection are considered more romantic and safer from embarrassment, obvious bids are much more likely to be clearly understood and successfully enacted. However, when they are lovelessly rejected, the ‘ouch’ factor usually is much stronger. So, unless your self-love is quite strong, having your obvious bids for love connection turned down may result in you feeling really hurt. The healthfully, sufficiently self loving can sincerely think “their loss” and go on feeling okay. Others, not so much.
Obvious bids usually are accomplished through the use of words requesting specific behaviors. “Let’s cuddle on the couch for the next half-hour and just be close, okay?” is an example of an obvious bid for love connection. A well pitched, obvious love bid includes four elements: (1) the behavior desired – to cuddle, (2) the desired place where the behavior is to occur – on the couch, (3) the desired time – the next half-hour, and (4) the desired emotional mood – closeness. A good, obvious love bid usually is stated in loving tones of voice with loving facial expressions, gestures and perhaps some loving touch. If delivered in written form, it usually is good to add some additional words expressing love directly.
It also is good to be careful about making a clear difference between a bid for sex and a bid for love, or a bid for both together. It is important that you and your intimate love partner both be sure you have the same understanding. If you say, “I want to hug” and it means “let’s have a raunchy, good time together, miscommunication problems are highly likely.
Well Caught and Returned Love BidsResponding to love bids is crucial for having ongoing, love success. When couples, or families, or friends reduce their pitching, catching and return pitching of their bids for love connecting, as one might expect, connection reduces. Reduced love connecting sets up a love relationship for all manner of problems. Love malnutrition and love starvation may occur. This especially is dangerous for the health and well-being of young children.
Vulnerability to couples having affair problems becomes greater. Friends and family members can grow distant with reductions of love bids. And all sorts of other maladies become more likely when bids for love connection are markedly reduced or absent.
Frequently and, if possible, artfully pitching your bids for love connection, receiving other’s bids, and responding with a return pitching leads to love cycling. This in turn tends to grow love and make it stronger, as well as healthier, not to mention more enjoyable.
To do all that requires several things. It is just like the game called “catch” when the ball is thrown back and forth. (Notice the game is not called “throw”). First you have to be aware that something is being thrown or pitched to you. Otherwise, what is pitched may fly right by you. Once you notice what is coming, you have to try to catch it. This requires some understanding of what it really is, or might be, and a receiving response, followed by an awareness of whether you got it or not.
Misinterpreting or misunderstanding is like fumbling the ball. Next you have to come up with how you are going to make a return pitch, followed by aiming and sending it. Each of these steps can be handled artfully with practice, clumsily, or not at all. The research suggests everybody totally misses some of the time, fumbles at other times, but with practice, sometimes with coaching, they can get better and better at this astonishingly important love skill. So, the more you study and practice both your pitching love bids and catching your loved one’s bids for love connection, the better the relationship likely will be.
As always – Go and Grow with Love
Dr. J. Richard Cookerly
What kind of bids for love connecting are you good at making, and what kinds are you likely to miss or misunderstand?