This post was updated on Nov 29, 2022
Lately, you seem to be noticing that something’s off. You don’t know what it is, you can’t pinpoint the exact reason, yet something just doesn’t feel like it used to. Doesn’t feel quite right. There are no visible problems, you and your partner talk, laugh, and spend time together. However, there is a felt sense that something is “off”.
Have you been exchanging affection? Not just the physical, sexual one; other types of affection? Have you been supportive in both mind and body? Are your unspoken actions just as pleasant as your spoken ones? Is your body language projecting the same emotions as your words are?
Maybe one or both of you are neglecting nonverbal signs of affection, support, love, and care without an intent to do so. All this could inadvertently foster nonverbal ambivalence in your relationship, which could negatively affect other aspects of your romance.
What Is Nonverbal Communication?
You know how you can sometimes simply look at your partner, or they you, and you just know what’s up? That’s a form of nonverbal communication. Essentially, nonverbal communication consists of all the messages you exchange with your partner, as well as other people, without actually using any words.
Nonverbal communication allows us to basically feel how someone is feeling. We can sense another person’s mood or attitude through genuine nonverbal communication methods.
The Methods Of Nonverbal Communication
Some of the most common types of nonverbal communication methods include:
- Facial expressions
- Body posture and movement
- Eye contact
- Personal space
- Tone of voice
Through any of these channels of nonverbal communication, you can achieve the following:
- Repetition: Repeating the message you’re trying to convey.
- Contradiction: Contradicting the message you’re sending, confusing the listener.
- Substitution: Substituting a message you would otherwise send out verbally.
- Complementing: Complementing and adding to a notion you want to convey verbally.
- Accenting: Underlining the importance of a verbal message you want to send.
In a relationship, it’s impossible to emphasize the importance of the nonverbal. It plays a huge role in strengthening the feeling of love, affection, and connection. A light touch, a warm smile, or an unconsciously open posture convey the feeling of warmth and love.
And that’s what makes nonverbal communication an integral part of a satisfying and fulfilling relationship – knowing your partner’s feelings and affection without having to hear them. Sensing your partner, knowing, not listening and acknowledging.
How Does Nonverbal Communication Affect My Relationship?
Depending on you or your partner’s behavior, the nonverbal aspects of your relationship can have both a positive and a negative effect on your romance.
Each look, tilt, sigh, and smile are capable of conveying a wealth of emotions we leave to others to interpret. The way you and your partner communicate with each other nonverbally can achieve different effects in your relationship:
- Conflict: Misinterpreted nonverbal cues can lead to rising conflicts in your relationship. For example, sharing a secret with your partner only to be welcomed by a frown might seem like disapproval. However, the same frown can also signal concentration.
- Discomfort: Sometimes, certain nonverbal behaviors can lead to you or your partner feeling discomfort. The most common causes of discomfort can be the invasion of personal space in certain situations or a misinterpreted tone of voice.
- Closeness: However, nonverbal communication can also lead to a deepened feeling of closeness and love between you and your partner. A reassuring smile, a warm touch, and a soft embrace are incredibly beneficial to a relationship.
- Understanding: Finally, implementing nonverbal cues to accent the messages you send to your partner will enhance their understanding of your words and create a deeper sense of communication and connection.
How Do I Improve My Nonverbal Communication In A Relationship?
When you’re in a relationship, you want to express your feelings freely. However, sending out certain nonverbal messages can cause your messages of love and understanding to become misinterpreted for what they are not.
With nonverbal communication being one of the cornerstones of happy and successful communication, the effort placed into improving it could bring you and your partner close together. You can understand each other better or learn how to recognize your partner’s feelings even when they don’t express them openly.
4 Ways To Improve Nonverbal Communication In Your Intimate Relationship
Here are the four techniques that can help you improve nonverbal communication in your romantic relationship:
- Be expressive: Why shy away from expressing the full scope of your love, affection, and care toward your partner? Look them in the eye, smile, and touch them to support your words of love. Hold their hand as you watch a movie or give them a long hug before going to bed. Show them what you’re feeling without the words.
- Pay attention: However, it’s not just about giving, it’s also about paying attention to how your partner is feeling through their use of nonverbal cues. Be attentive, try to sense what they’re feeling, or ask them if you’re unsure. Show them that you’re there, that you care, and that you’re ready to help.
- Positive disagreements: If a disagreement happens, try to prevent it from blowing out of proportion and into a full-scale argument through use of positive nonverbal communication. Also, using negative cues, such as eye-rolls can serve to escalate the disagreement.
- Surprise: Surprise your partner with unexpected nonverbal shows of affection. Hug them when they’re not expecting it, give them a kiss before work, and do all other manners of affectionate actions to show them how you feel.
- Reach out to relationship coaches: No matter how hard you try, you still feel that something is off? You can’t express yourself or understand your partner’s nonverbal cues? Reaching out to professionals may be the right choice for you and your relationship. Experienced coaches can help you delve deeper into what’s holding you back. Change is possible, you just need to learn what’s holding you back and how to free yourself from old wounds.
Turn To PIVOT’s Romantic Relationship Building Skills Workshop And Avoid Ambivalence In Your Relationship
Sometimes, even with all the words and talks, you’re left feeling unfulfilled. This is a time when your intuition may kick in, signalling there’s maybe something wrong, telling you it’s time to make a change in your relationship. What is it, what is that one ever-escaping thing you feel is missing, yet you simply can’t put your finger on?
Oftentimes, if something simply feels off, it might be less about the verbal, and all about the nonverbal aspects of your relationship. You and your partner have simply fallen into a string of unsatisfying nonverbal communication patterns that you’re struggling to break. Luckily, you can easily resolve this by, surprisingly, talking. PIVOT is here to help you communicate your lack of touch, feel, and look through either restorative and invigorating individual workshops or bond-strengthening and supportive retreats for couples. Our relationship advocates are trained and caring professionals who will help you get through your rough patch. Give us a call today!