This next level refers to how you respond to your partner. Do you ignore them (turn away), or do you engage (turn toward)? According to the Gottmans, how you react to your partner’s bids for connection can shed light on this level.
Let’s say your partner expresses how beautiful the sunset looks that night—it’s not a direct question to you but a direct line (or bid) for communication and connection. Do you keep doing your own thing, or do you verbally respond?
It’s an important marker for a successful relationship, backed up by the Gottmans’ research: They created an apartment lab and studied couples who stayed there for 24 hours. “[Couples who] would respond to each other’s bids for connection 85% of the time were successful down the road; the ones who were not successful only [responded] 33% of the time,” says Julie. “That’s a big difference.”
Now, that 85% is important to note—it’s not that you have to engage 100% of the time (Sometimes you’re just tired! We get it!), but the general sense of connection is what’s important here.