Understanding 'Attention Bids' and Their Role in Romantic Relationships
Bids for attention, we all do it. Some bids are obvious while others are inconspicuous, some bids are reasonable some others are awkward, some bids are appreciated, and some bids are spurned. Bids for attention are a part of every relationship, they are normal.
Bids for attention have a large range, from the minor, smile, eye contact, or approach, to the major, request of our assistance, our presence.
Bids for attention in relationships occur for one good reason, attention is at the heart of what relationships are about. We are constantly, and continuously, requesting and receiving bids for attention.
After all, if we aren’t getting and giving attention then what is the point of a relationship? We aren’t in the habit of giving or getting attention to or from random strangers. And even if we do it isn’t worth very much.
Let’s suppose that we are sporting some new item, be it a shirt, shoes, or a different hair style, should someone who we don’t have an established relationship with makes a disparaging remark regarding that item, we simply ignore or rebuff the offending comment. However, should someone who we have a positive relationship with, and therefore respect, makes the exact same comment, we are rightly wounded.
Our attention, and by extension our focus, is one of the most valuable items that we possess. Attention requires our time, our effort, and some degree of sacrifice. The giving of our attention is a choice that we must make. And we don’t make that choice lightly. Our attention is the acknowledgment of the other person, as well as a measure of our value of the relationship. The more attention that we give the more the worth of the recipient.
When bids for attention go unnoticed, or worse yet rejected, we quickly learn to avoid the unwelcome and uncomfortable feelings that accompanies the pain of knowing that we simply aren’t important enough to be recognized. Missed bids for attention are lost opportunities to connect and to bond. Show me that I don’t matter often enough, and I will firstly, stop making attempts to connect and secondly, I will find those who do think that I matter. What would be the point of wasting my valuable time and effort on those who don’t want to either, accept my attention or to give me their attention?
Sadly, we are living in a day and age where our attention is being taxed to the maximum. We have more things to do than there are hours in the day. And so, we are constantly having to choose between competing facets of our lives.
This is where some bids for our attention become toxic, demanding more attention than either warranted or deserved. “Pick me, pick me”.
Modern technology does not seek to alleviate this issue, rather it acts to exacerbate it. Modern technology is an attention and focus thief. And intentionally so. It is not an unintended bug it is a feature of the design.
It is our own responsibility to choose who and on what we devote our attention to and focus on.
Fear not, there are techniques that can be employed to take back our relationships and even enhance them in the process.
We begin by accepting that we need to both get and give attention. We must understand that neither we nor others will be available, when, where, and for as long, as we, or they, would like. In other words, we aren’t, and can’t be, in synch with each other at all times. What that means is that we can take solace in the fact that, as much as we would like attention from others, there are those who too would like attention from us. And that for as many of our bids for attention that go unnoticed or are flat out rejected, we too are oblivious to and dismissive of the bids for attention from others.
That said, then means, that we must consciously make an effort to foster bids for attention. Make it your default assumption that people would like our attention, and that they are simply missing our cues.
When it comes to bids for attention that go ignored, Hanlon’s Razor comes to mind, “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." Don’t assume that people are willfully ignoring you, instead assume that they just missed your bid for attention. Make your bids for attention clear and specific. Don’t allow your bids for attention to go unheeded, don’t’ be pushy, however, require some sort of a response to be sure that there isn’t a misunderstanding or miscommunication.
Be on the lookout for bids for your attention from others. Expect that others are vying for your attention. When you get a bid for attention that you can’t immediately take action on,
· acknowledge receipt of the bid
o “Did you want to get together?”
o “Would you like to do something together some time?”
· show appreciation for the bid
o “Thank you for thinking of me”
o “I’m glad that you reached out to me”
· and offer an alternative bid
o “Let’s plan to do something together at a later time”
o “I’m not available right now, however I would like to do something with you”
When no alternatives are offered, that is a silent rejection.
When you are making a bid for the attention of others, don’t ask for more than you are entitled to. Don’t become a burden, asking for more than it is worth giving to you. Keep in mind that an alternative bid may be required, keep an open mind. An alternative bid is still a bid, and not a rejection.
Of course, when giving or receiving attention be fully present. Give and take with your full and undivided focus. Put the damn phone down! I’m here and real, social media is elsewhere and fake.
Bids for attention that you give which are rejected, should be met from you with maturity and gratitude. Not that we are grateful for the rejection, that we are grateful for a response. The subtle art of pretending not to notice, sometime in the form of ghosting, has become a science. A negative response, as disagreeable as it is, is still better than no response at all. Take the loss and move on, absent a response we will continue to waste time and effort on a lost cause. Being a jerk when rejected only serves to guarantee that no one will want to entertain your future bids for attention.
By the same token, when you inevitably must reject another person’s bid for your attention, be respectful, clear, specific, and courteous, in your response.
Again, relationships are about attention, giving attention is as rewarding as getting attention.
One of the reasons that people give for avoiding bids for their attention is a lack of time available. Another reason that people give for dismissing bids for their attention is no clear expectations.
Connecting and bonding in relationships isn’t as difficult or time consuming as one might imagine.
I believe so strongly in the importance of relationship attention that I have created an app geared specially towards promoting and enhancing bids for attention. My app The Good Together Game is tailored for building and maintaining healthy relationships.
The premise is that relationships are much like exercising, that is, we need to practice them frequently for reasonable amounts of time per session.
In the app, relationship partners are added to their appropriate social circle, or group, such as family, friends, intimate, or business. Game play consists of the app randomly selecting a timeframe of, 3, 5, or 7, minutes followed by randomly selecting a player from the list of players in the specified group, and then randomly selecting a predefined interaction from a list of activities associated with specified group. The app therefore removes the stress of time and the confusion of expectations, while simultaneously encouraging reasonable and realistic bids for attention.