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What You Definitely Shouldn’t Expect to Gain From a Relationship

What You Definitely Shouldn’t Expect to Gain From a Relationship

There’s nothing wrong with seeking a romantic relationship and wanting to build a partnership with someone who makes your life better. However, it’s a fact of life that even the most independent and strong-minded of us can fall into the trap of looking to a relationship to fulfill all of our personal needs.

Sure, you can (and should!) get a lot from your significant other. However, while you can get a lot of value from a relationship, there are also a few things you should always look to cultivate within and for yourself. Remember this and you’ll not only have the security of being able to rely on yourself should you lose your partner, but you’ll become more attractive in the first place! No-one likes clingy, needy people with no sense of self. It’s far better to be looking to continually improve yourself and present this best possible version of you within your relationship.

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Read on to find out what you shouldn’t expect to gain from your relationship.

1. Self-respect

The clue is in the title! Hopefully, your partner will respect and love you for who you are. However, there is no substitute for authentic self-respect. This has to come from within, and can be developed by honoring your true nature and pursuing your own goals and interests.

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2. Financial stability

If you depend on someone else for your financial well-being, this takes away your personal power. Of course there may be certain points in time—if you stay at home while raising a child, for example—when your partner may be the primary breadwinner, but as a rule, you should always try to maintain your own income stream. It gives you additional power to walk away from an unsatisfying relationship and also keeps the power balance on an even keel.

3. Self-belief

You should pick a partner who believes in you, but it’s a mistake to rely on this person to stand in as a substitute for your own self-belief. Even the most loving, available partner cannot be counted on to provide you with emotional and psychological support 24/7—they have a life too!

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4. Friends

If your partner comes complete with a great group of friends, see this as a bonus! It can be wonderful to meet other people when you start dating a new significant other. However, do not neglect your own social circle. Your friends are your friends for a good reason. You have a shared history with them, and you provide one another with mutual support. Do not overlook them in favor of the excitement that comes with a new relationship.

5. Unconditional acceptance

One of the best things about being in a solid relationship is the feeling that you can be yourself around the other person, and that they accept you despite your flaws. However, this doesn’t mean that you can expect them to agree with your every opinion and never tell you when you’re out of line. In fact, it’s a bad sign if they do, because it implies they either aren’t paying enough attention or are so insecure that they don’t dare disagree and risk losing you!

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6. A substitute parent

If you had a poor relationship with one or both of your parents, make sure that you don’t unconsciously start looking for a partner to serve as substitute. Expecting your partner to provide you with unconditional love, acceptance and instructions for how to live your life is neither realistic nor healthy. You need to accept that if you didn’t receive all this from a parent whilst you were a child, the moment has passed and you cannot hope to find it in an adult partner.

So remember, while it’s fine and healthy to seek romantic companionship or even a “soulmate,” looking for one individual to fulfill your needs is not realistic. Try to maintain a balanced life in which you put time and attention not only into your relationships with others, but into your relationship with yourself.

Featured photo credit: AdinaVoicu/Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Jay Hill

Jay writes about communication and happiness on Lifehack.

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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

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