How Reading Body Language Can Improve Your Relationship
Updated December 17, 2018
Reviewer Lauren Guilbeault
Communication is a lot more than exactly what you say with words. We communicate a lot through the body language that we use. We can communicate one message with our words and something completely different from what we are doing with our body. This is important to remember when in a relationship as well. Reading body language can help you improve your communication.
UCLA conducted a study showed only 7% of communication comes from the words that are spoken. 38% Communication is from the tone of voice that is being used 55% History of our body language. The more aware we are of what we are communicating and how to read body language the better our communication skills will be. Not only do you want to make sure that you are using the right body language, but now how to read what your significant other is saying.
Communication In Relationships
When you think of the "perfect" relationship, it always includes good communication, both verbal and nonverbal. You imagine the two of you walking hand in hand, stealing kisses, gazing into each other's eyes, and laughing and cuddling together. All of these things express closeness, interest, and even romantic feelings without speaking a single word.
Good relationships cannot exist without great communication. Many fights and arguments begin because of a breakdown in communication. And, many arguments worsen because of the lack of communication skills within the relationship.
Motivational guru William Paisley once tweeted, "Communication is the fuel that keeps the fire of your relationship burning, without it, your relationship goes cold." If this is true and we know from the UCLA study that the majority of communication comes from body language, then we should become experts at reading body language if we want our relationship to succeed.
Mirroring Body Language
When someone feels a connection with another person, they tend to mirror their body language. That means if you're having a conversation with your significant other and they are using the same type of hand gestures as you, using the same posture as you, your conversation is most likely going well.
When we feel a bond with someone, we will often subconsciously mirror their body language. Have you ever noticed that when a couple has been together for a while, they start to take on each other's mannerisms? This is why. They feel a connection with each other and have unknowingly started to mirror the body language of the other. It forms a connection.
Something like a smile seems like it should be easy enough to read, but have you ever wondered if the smile your getting is genuine or not? We've all been there before. There have been many studies conducted to find out how to spot a fake smile. And, it turns out that the key is in the eyes, well next to them.
When someone gives a genuine smile, they get crinkles, or crow's feet, that show up on the outside of their eyes. However, this doesn't occur with most fake smiles. Now some people have perfected the fake smile enough that they can achieve getting the eye crinkles even though they are faking, so this isn't a flawless read. However, you can know that if you don't see crow's feet when someone smiles at you, they are either faking it or hiding something.
You can tell a lot about a person's mood by their posture. If someone comes into a room slouching with their eyes on the ground, we tend to think they are either sad or lack confidence. However, if someone comes into the room with their shoulders back, chin up, and with a strong posture, they seem to exude confidence. But, posture plays an even bigger role in communication than that.
When your significant other leans in while you are having a conversation, they are most likely engaged in the conversation. They are actively participating in it, and you usually have their full attention. However, when they are reclined back as you are talking, they are more relaxed. They could still be engaged in the conversation, but the posture they are using sets a different tone.
There is a lot that you can read from a person's eye contact or lack of it. Making eye contact helps you to connect with the other person. That is why speakers are taught to work on making eye contact to draw people into a presentation. And, making eye contact with another person can show them you are interested in and invite conversation. This could be how you and your significant other got together in the first place, a little eye contact.
As the relationship develops, making eye contact can show that you are engaged in the conversation. For the most part, if the other person is making eye contact with you as you speak, it shows that they are listening. However, it doesn't stop there.
There is a common belief that if someone is lying to you, they will not make eye contact with you. While this can be true at times, the wide known belief has turned the tide. Since people know that you expect them not to make eye contact if they are lying, many people will do the opposite. As they lie to you, they will purposefully make eye contact with you. But, this type of eye contact feels forced, and the person usually holds their stare for too long. It begins to feel uncomfortable.
Clenched Jaw And Furrowed Brows Equal Stress
When someone is experiencing stress, they tend to clench their jaw tighter and furrow their eyebrows (scrunch them together). There are many reasons someone reaches this point. It could be that they are uncomfortable with the direction that the conversation is headed. They may feel anxious about the topic that you are discussing. Or, if you aren't talking about something that should be stress to them it could be an indication that they aren't listening to what you are saying. It could be that they are thinking about something else that is causing them stress.
Some people just naturally cross their arms because they don't know what else do to with them. However, crossed arms can also be a sign of resistance. If you are sharing an idea, it could be a sign that they either don't like the idea or they are hesitant about it. Many psychologists explain that crossing your arms, or even your legs, is a sign that you are closed off.
What Body Language Communicates About Your Relationship
Body language is a good tell on what someone is thinking because many people aren't conscious of what they are doing. Your significant other could be working hard to control what they are saying, but their body language might naturally communicate what the truth is.
The body language happening in your relationship can also help you determine when your relationship is in trouble. Here are some signs to watch out for:
- You don't sit next to each other in the room
- You don't walk side-by-side
- When you talk they don't pay attention, lean in, or make eye contact
- You use a lot of choppy or aggressive looking hand gestures
- You mock each other instead of mirror each other
- Arms are crossed a lot
- There is a lot of eye rolling
- Any of the signs of lying
When you see these troubling signs, it's time to take action and either work on repairing the relationship or determine if it's time for it to end. And, remember it's not just the body language that your significant other is displaying, but the ones that you are displaying as well. Just like in a regular verbal conversation, it's possible for a couple's body language to not be on the same page.
Repairing Your Relationship
If you are picking up on body language signs from your spouse or significant other that there could be trouble its time to start working on repairing the relationship. It could also simply be a sign that you both need to become more aware of what your body language is communicating. Sometimes we read someone's body language incorrectly. Just because you see some of the signs above happening in your relationship does not mean that you need to call it quits. It could just be a sign that you both need to work on improving your communication skills.
Counseling is a very effective way to improve a relationship. A 3rd party that is not going to take sides between two people can help each of you to analyze your role in the relationship and see what you could be doing differently to make improvements.
BetterHelp offers therapists that can help you and your relationship without you ever needing to step foot into their office. The options are not only convenient but more affordable than traditional forms of counseling too. A licensed therapist can help you recognize where the breakdown in communication in your relationship is coming from. Then they can teach you the skills that you both need to make the improvements that you desire.