compassionate communication

Relationship Tips: Get Their Attention

Communication Patterns in Successful Relationships

Loads of research has been done on the behaviors of successful couples and one of trend holds true: satisfied couples in happy relationships are more likely to bid for attention in a few key ways.

Read on to add these skills in your relationships.

Bids for Attention

We bid for each other's attention all the time.  We do this by gesturing, making eye contact, initiating affection, making a joke, pointing out something.  

For example I might turn to my sweetheart and say, "I really like your shirt."

Successful couples bid more frequently. But there is a second part of bidding that keeps them in a loop of communicating with kindness.  

Receiving Bids From Your Partner

When someone bids for attention we have four real options in our response.  I will give you examples for each.


"Thanks for noticing my shirt babe."  This is a kind or friendly response.  It invites more interaction.


"Oh." This isn't a kind or unkind response.  It doesn't invite more communication or connection, but it doesn't overtly harm the relationship.  However, over time it can divide a couple if it is the only response given.  


"Why are you talking about my shirt?!?"  This might be an angry, defensive, or judgmental response.  This response doesn't invite more positive interaction and often leads to disconnection and conflict.  

Often we think this is the most problematic response- but when this response is handled respectfully couples can still grow.  


This is the most detrimental to the relationship.  When someone doesn't respond we feel ignored and we are far less likely to continue bidding for our partner's attention.  This gap in responses starts growing distance between people.

We fill in the gap with our assumptions, resentments and judgments and distance grows.  But sometimes our partner has innocently missed the bid- maybe they simply didn't hear us.  They don't even know how we've been hurt- and aren't able to effectively repair the missed bid. 

Your relationship challenge:

Notice the bids for interaction this week and work to respond with warmth as often as possible.  Notice how it shifts your relationship's energy.   


Healthy Relationships | Couples Therapist | Sex Therapist

Gina Senarighi has been supporting loving couples and healthy teams for nearly twenty years. As a former couples therapist turned retreat coach, workshop facilitator, and author she's transformed partnerships, leaders and communication strategy all over the world.  

Her uniquely non-judgmental, inclusive approach to couples work puts even the most concerned participants at ease.  She's not your average sit-and-nod supporter- she'll hold hope even when it's hard and always help you grow. 

Call for a consultation to see how she can help you deepen connection, communicate effectively, and passionately reignite your relationship.

Warm Up Your Communication

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Compassion in Relationships

If you're looking for an easy way to improve your relationship one simple intention can make a huge difference.

Try to enter each interaction with warmth with your sweetie. Check resentment and crankiness, business, and distraction at the door.

We often start out with intentional, meaningful, fully-present communication in relationships.  We really listen, and we start each interaction with so much warmth and kindness.  But most of us get a little lazy with communication over time in long-term relationships.

Change the Conversation

Simply refocusing on warmth at the start of each conversation or interaction dramatically shifts interactions to more positive places.  Even in conflict, acting from kindness transforms the nature of the conflict- and makes it much more productive.

Try warmth instead and see what happens.

If you want more help improving communication in your relationship you might want to try Compassionate Communication (also called Nonviolent Communication).  

Enter your information below to receive my free Compassionate Communication Toolkit for Couples.

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Basics of Compassionate Relationships

Compassionate Relationships | Uncommon Love Counseling for Open Relationships in Portland

How compassionate are you with your partner? Gifts and dates are great but if you don't bring compassion into play, you're only halfway there.

Compassion means something a little different for each of us.  

Think about what compassion means to you specifically.  Notice where it's lacking in your life, career, and relationship.  

How could increasing compassion improve connection in your relationship?

Build a compassionate relationship in 11 simple steps:

  1. Instead of asking, "What's wrong?" Ask, "What do you need from me in this moment?" Find ways to offer support and understanding instead of focusing on obstacles.

  2. Try embracing the moment and accepting things as they come.  Crappy days happen. Accept them, and be there for your partner when they have one.

  3. Ask your partner what compassion means to them. Just as you communicate about sexual desires, try communicating about compassion.  And just as your sexual needs may be different, your needs for compassion maybe as well.

  4. Take time to really listen to your partner.  Practicing fully present listening is one of the most important parts of compassion.  Put away distractions and make real listening a priority.

  5. Admit when you're wrong. Taking personal responsibility and apologizing with honesty is critical to long term relationship success and to compassion in practice.

  6. Instead of saying "I understand" or "I know how you are feeling" practice openness by asking "Tell me more about how you are feeling" and staying curious about your partner's experience- even if it is similar to one you have had- it is still different because it is theirs.

  7. Use the golden rule.  How often are you treating your partner the way you would like to be treated?

  8. Being compassionate doesn't mean putting your needs aside.  The most compassionate people are also some of the most boundaried.  Compassion doesn't mean over giving or co-dependency. Compassion simply allows you to care, without throwing yourself into your partner's business.

  9. Have fun. Compassion can be such a serious subject, a little laughter might be just what you need.  Try to experience the lighthearted parts of your relationship fully and increase them by sharing lighthearted fun with your honey.

  10. Respect your partner's space.  If your partner doesn't want to talk, give conversation a break.  One of the most compassionate things we can do is give each other space to not be, coddled, held, and doted over. Use the space to take care of yourself.

  11. Never forget: compassion is ever-changing. Like anything else in relationships, it's dependent on the present moment. What you each need will grow and change over time, so don't be afraid to re-evaluate and adjust.

This post was originally shared on Amplify Good.

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Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a sex educator and relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationshipsjealousy, LGBTQ issues and infidelity.  

She can help you:

Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

Click here to download her free guides to strengthen your relationship (monogamous or not).