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10 Small Habits That Help You Maintain A Long-Lasting Relationship

10 Small Habits That Help You Maintain A Long-Lasting Relationship

Relationships are hard work. In the beginning, love flows freely between two people. Your every move is symbiotic, your bodies fit perfectly together, and you finish each other’s sentences. However, as time goes by, the space between you grows wider. Your bodies are back to back. You’re living in different worlds under the same roof.

Your busy life keeps you active all day. Your relationships with co-workers are more intimate than with your partner. Lunch dates are longer and happy hours more frequent. You’re so busy texting that you can’t remember the last meaningful conversation you had. When was the last time you laughed together in bed without your phones?

Soon, you doubt your love. Your eyes start to wander. You’re choosing your daily outfits based on what your co-workers will think. Your partner’s desires and needs are at the bottom of your to-do list. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. With a little bit of commitment, nourishment, and care; you can keep your love as warm and cozy as it was in the beginnning. In fact, the longer you’re together, the stronger your love is.

You can keep your spark ignited by doing things differently. Your love is still there, it’s just hiding beneath the surface of your distracted and tech-filled life.

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Jump-start your day with these ten little habits that will make your love last forever.

1. Wake up every day and think, “What can I do to make you happy?”

It’s not that you have to spend your whole day thinking only of your loved one, but this question is more of a habit that locks in an attitude of prioritizing your partner’s needs over your own. You might think that’s unfair and say, “What about my needs?” However, if you put your partner before yourself, you’ll soon notice that (if you’re with a person who loves you too) you begin a back-and-forth give-and-take sharing quality into your relationship.

2. Pick your battles.

You don’t have to fight about everything that upsets you. Learn how to pause. Take time to choose to be wise. Ask yourself, “Is this really important, or can I let this one go?” Most of the time, people fight about small and unimportant things that aren’t worth fighting over. These petty fights cause distance and set off a negative thought process of doom and gloom. Don’t say things like, “Oh, this relationship will never work,” or “You’re such a selfish, inconsiderate jerk.” Once you tread this path, it just goes on and on. It will never end.

If you’re going to jump into battle, be sure it’s something worth fighting for. You can’t make it through a relationship without a fight. It’s unrealistic to expect that two people living together will always agree, never get their feelings hurt, and always be in control of their emotions. However, a long-lasting relationship knows that before, during, and after the fight; their love is stronger than the argument they’re having.

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“Many couples tend to equate a low level of conflict with happiness and believe the claim ‘we never fight’ is a sign of marital health. But I believe we grow in our relationships by reconciling our differences. That’s how we become more loving people and truly experience the fruits of marriage,” says Dr. John Gottman, a marital therapy researcher.

3. Practice empathy and compassion.

You’re not the only one who’s going through hard stuff. Your partner is too. Since you’re not together most of the day, you don’t know what’s going on in your partner’s life. Did something happen at work that upset them? Is there something they’re worried about that they haven’t talked to you about? Take a moment to think about the burden your partner is carrying. It’s also important to understand that your partner is not you. Your family history is different. If your partner is an only child, you can’t expect them to have the same family social skills as you do if you have three siblings. Allow for each other’s differences and respect them.

4. Appreciate each other.

It’s easy to fall into comfort zones of repetitive behavior. You take each other for granted. You have expectations. Yet, you forget to tell each other how much you appreciate the way he picks up his dirty socks, brings you a cup of coffee, or clears your plate from the table. You might appreciate the little things, but how often do you verbalize them? Everyone needs to feel appreciated. As Esther Perel explains in her TED talk, when you are free to imagine and appreciate and maintain a fresh perspective you can keep desire in a long-term relationship.

5. Follow your strengths.

Like a good business, a relationship needs job descriptions. Be in charge of the area that you’re stronger in. Admit that your partner has strengths. Allow them their area of expertise. Each player brings their strength into the relationship, building a strong team. As you should with any well-functioning team, be supportive. Notice when your partner needs a boost. Be encouraging, loving, and supportive. Even the strongest and smartest person feels insecure at times (although they might not admit it).

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6. Be present with each other.

Your busy life is filled with distractions. Your head is in your phone (and so is your partner’s). You’re going in one direction, your partner in another, and your relationship feels like two college friends sharing a dorm room. It’s improbable that anyone will put down their phone, but try to set aside phone-free time. Talk to each other again. Ask your partner how their day went. Share the events of your day. Take time to enjoy each other’s company. Most important of all, don’t forget to cuddle.

7. Stop Complaining.

Negative comments bring a dark cloud into your life. No one is perfect and neither are you. Appreciate what you’ve got. Don’t let what you want, ruin what you have. Small complaints affect your attitude. It’s easy to fall into a bad mood and make your partner feel worthless by constantly complaining about the “little” things that aren’t perfect. Never complain about your partner to a relative or a friend, unless you are in dire straits. In that case, seek professional help. Sharing your partner’s flaws with friends and relatives shows their negative traits. You are causing others to judge your partner without seeing the full picture. If you tallk about your partner behind their back, be certain that it’s only for you to work through your own emotions, decisions, and choices.

 8. Look for the good.

When times get tough, you become blinded with negativity. All you see is darkness. Everything is wrong and nothing is right. That’s when you have to disengage from the darkness, and think about all the good things your partner brings to your life. All those fabulous qualities are still there, they’re just harder to see. People are naturally judgmental. It’s a necessary life skill that often becomes abused in our relationships. It’s easy to become critical and make your partner feel that they are not good enough. Remember the good times, especially when times are tough.

9. Be the best of friends.

Share your lives. Talk about your worries and concerns. Be there for each other. Show up when you’re needed. No one knows you as intimately as your partner. After all, they are the person you share your bed with. Once you’ve found your soul-mate, you’ll know it. Once you experience this deep connection, make sure you work hard to maintain it.

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10. Let go.

When you hang on to old negative emotions, memories, and arguments, you bring the past into your present. Harbored resentments are damaging to your relationship. If you remember every time your partner said or did something that upset you, you will never feel free to experience the love of the present moment. You’re still living in the past. Forgive and learn to move forward. Don’t keep score of all the times you hurt each other. If you want your love to last, don’t keep a relationship scorecard.

Long-lasting love is hard work, but definitely worth it!

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June Silny

ADHD Coach, Writer, ADDitude Magazine featured contributor

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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