It’s been three days since you sent your ex a text and they did not respond. Now from out of nowhere they send you a text. “Hi, I wanted you to be the first to know that I got that job promotion.”
One part of you is happy that he got the promotion and that you finally heard back from them, but the other is upset that they did not respond to your text and now reaching out like everything is okay. You feel like you should ignore them like they ignored you, but you are genuinely happy for them and want them to know you are happy for them, and they said they wanted you to be the first to know about the good news, that must mean something.
You put aside your feelings and respond. The two of you chat about his promotion or a few minutes and in that moment, you feel emotionally connected even though you still feel some resentment. As the conversation is about to end, you can’t hold it in anymore, so you ask them why they did not respond to your text. They apologize and it feels genuine. They then respond to what was in our text and you feel even closer.
Dr. Gottman the architect of “Bids For Emotional Connection” explains someone reaching out to try and emotionally connect (e.g. your ex reaching out to tell you about his job promotion) an emotional bid for connection.
When one person sends an emotional bid for connection and another turns towards the person asking for connection, both people experience a positive moment of emotional connection.
Gottman says that when you “turn towards” the other person’s bids for emotional connection, they hear:
- I’m interested in you.
- I hear you.
- I understand you (or would like to).
- I’m on your side.
- I’d like to help you (whether I can or not).
- I’d like to be with you (whether I can or not).
- I accept you (even if I don’t accept all your behavior).
You probably have had these positive moments of emotional connection from time to time, but often it’s ‘accidental’. It’s possible however to consciously duplicate or sustain enough emotional connection to create momentum by being mindful, fully present and aware in your interactions.
Every time you turn towards your ex’s bids for emotional connection, you are making a deposit in your Emotional Bank Account. These little moments add up, reminding the two of you of the feelings you have for one another, and of your commitment to supporting each other through all of the experiences you share.
But if they happen randomly and are far and between, you are not going to get momentum or see much progress towards trust or attraction.
To see momentum or progress towards getting back together, it is important that you recognize and respond to your ex’s bids for emotional connection, whether it comes in a form of a text message, email forward, social media post, phone call etc.
You may not always feel like responding but to fail to recognize a bid for connection, miss your ex’s attempts to connect or respond with no conscious attempt to emotionally connect is self-sabotage. It sends the message that you do not get them, are not interested, or are dismissive of them (and their thoughts, feelings or experiences).
It’s very easy to miss or fail to respond to a bid for connection appropriately and in a timely manner when you are all worked up about “how often to contact your ex” or obsessing about how to word your texts.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how well you space your contacts or how perfectly worded a text is, if your ex feels that for some reason you are just not “connecting” in a way that they feel that they can trust you with their heart, you are not getting back together.
It’s even harder for your ex to believe things can be different if the reason for the break-up was that your ex just wasn’t feeling it anymore or felt that they had to break-up with you because the two of you weren’t able to communicate.
So take time to recognize, respond and reciprocate an emotional bid for connection. It makes a whole lot of difference. Like a whole lot!