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by Kim Lance, associate publisher of Online Dating Magazine

Body Language Speaks Volumes

During a relationship, many couples concern themselves with matters of vocal communication. When is it the right time to say I love you? Should I talk about myself more or ask more questions about my date? How can I argue my feelings effectively without alienating my partner? While language plays a vital part in a relationship, a very different kind of language plays just as important a role, especially toward the early stages of a relationship. Body language tells a person if you are happy, sad, angry, or even just plain bored. In order to effectively communicate the right message to your partner, you need to understand your own non-verbal habits and tendencies. If you can recognize your own body language, you can learn to speak volumes without saying a word.

There are several things we do with our bodies during interaction with others that can give off messages. Two of the most visible ways to express emotion through body language are in your head and your arm movements. Because you can’t always be aware of all of your movements at once, focusing on how you nod or shake your head and what you do with your hands and arms are two simple ways to better control the message you send to others non-verbally.


Head Movements: The Affirmative Head Nod or Disruptive Head Shake
Something even as simple as how your move your head can convey important messages to your relationship partner. In early stages of a relationship, couples desire to connect not only through physical attraction, but also on a mental level. Getting along in a relationship involves understanding each other and sharing things in common. When your partner is speaking to you, one of the best ways to express understanding and agreement is through the head-nod. Nodding your head symbolizes agreement and understanding without having to interrupt a conversation by saying “yes” or “I see”. In fact, the affirmative head-nod is well-documented as a nearly universal indication of accord, agreement, and understanding.

Just as a head nod can non-verbally show your partner that you understand or agree with them, the head shake can do the opposite. A head shake from side to side typically symbolizes disagreement but can also be a way of showing disbelief, sympathy, or grief. While a head shake may be appropriate when trying to sympathize with your partner after they have lost a loved one or are angry about a jerky co-worker, shaking your head mid-conversation to show your partner you don’t agree with what they are saying can have a very negative affect. It is almost as bad as verbally cutting off your partner mid-sentence to say “You’re wrong.”

Being aware of your head movements when communicating with your partner can help you be in better control of the impression you are giving to him or her. Nod your head when your loved one is talking to make them feel more comfortable and understood. Avoid shaking your head at your partner until it is your turn to affectively communicate your disagreement, otherwise you may be alienating your partner and cause them to close up to you and not freely express their thoughts.

Your Arms: Crossed or Open
The movements of your arms and hands can inadvertently tell a lot about how comfortable you are with a particular person and how much you like them…whether that is truly how you feel or not. Arm placement during conversation is particularly important during the introductory phase of a relationship.

During your first few dates you may be feeling extremely nervous, but, chances are, you don’t want your partner to know it. If you are continually fidgeting with your hands, biting your nails, or picking at things while interacting on a date, those are telltale signs that you are nervous or uncomfortable. It can be nerve-wracking for someone to try and have a conversation with a person who is obviously nervous and fidgety. Learn to control your nervous hand movements when on a date and you will not wear your anxieties about the date on your sleeve and you will also help to put the other person more at ease.

Also, whether or not you cross your arms during interaction gives off a powerful message. Crossed arms symbolize dissatisfaction or unhappiness. By crossing your arms you are essentially closing yourself off to the other person. By opening up your arms you are sending an inviting, open message to your partner or date. An inviting posture versus closed off is especially important during the early stages of a relationship as well. Your date may feel uncomfortable if you give the impression that you are in a bad mood or uninterested in opening up to him or her. So, when you go out on a first or second date, make sure you avoid crossing your arms.

Body Language Sends Many Message
Of course, these are only a few of dozens, maybe even hundreds, of mannerisms that can send messages to other people without having to say anything. There are facial expressions, movements, shoulder shrugs, etc…all with their own implications. You can’t be aware of every little movement you make, but understanding some of the major non-verbal signals can help you to be more aware of what your body language is saying to those you care about. Instead of sending the wrong message with your body language, you can learn to further connect with your partner and make them feel more at ease and connected to you by opening yourself up and posturing yourself in a warm and inviting manner.

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