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Emotionally Distant Relationship, It’s Not Over Yet!

Emotionally Distant Relationship, It’s Not Over Yet!

Are You In An Emotionally Distant Relationship?

Many of us have been there, wondering where we went wrong, wondering if your partner has fallen for someone else, and wondering if they’ve become bored. Feelings of paranoia have raced in, pounding you with self-doubt, and endless questions, asking yourself, “Are they distant, or am I misinterpreting?”

You know it wasn’t always like this, and there was a time when the furthest thought from your mind was second guessing your partner. Now you’re searching for an answer to repair your emotionally distant relationship. You may be wondering how this happened, and wish you had a crystal ball to see into the future.

Should you stay and work through it?

The answer will always depend on how deep the distance runs and the amount of effort you are willing to put into your relationship. But before throwing in the towel, consider the actions causing your doubt.

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Lack of Physical Touch

When you’re sitting together on the sofa memories come flooding back of when the two of you were entwined together, his head on your lap, or your feet resting on the ottoman wrapped under his. Yet recently you’ve noticed his lack of physical touch. His arms are now crossed, and you can’t remember the last time you felt the warmth from his hand on your leg.

Feelings of comfort while listening to his excitement over a latest project. Your conversations once felt intimately connected as he faced you on the sofa, not staring straight ahead, talking to an imaginary figure on the wall.

According to the UC San Diego News Center physical touch promotes the release of Oxytocin, the same chemical that is released during sex.  This love chemical is responsible for increasing emotional attachment and an intimate connection.

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Regular touch in a romantic relationship, even an emotionally distant relationship can chemically change your relationship for the better. Regular touch alters your brain pathways affecting facial recognition and affection. Losing touch is a slippery slope toward a non-intimate relationship.

Solution: If he isn’t touching you… then put your hand on his thigh next time you talk to him, or while casually relaxing on the sofa, rub the back of his head. Chances are good that he will soak that in, and inch his way a little closer to you.

Lack of Communication and Understanding

Another sign of an emotionally distant relationship is lack of communication and understanding. You’re no longer on the same page, you may be sitting next to one another, but your thoughts are elsewhere. And the longer this continues, the further those thoughts will wander.

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Solution: Confide in your partner. Casually bring up a topic that perhaps you’re sensitive of, a childhood event or insecurities and fears. Sharing secrets increases intimacy in your relationship.

A Psychology Today article states that one of the most important aspects of intimacy in a relationship is “compassion, trust, and empathy”. The key to repair an emotionally distant relationship with your partner is communication and offering understanding and sincere listening skills. Be ready for when he does open up. Everyone wants to feel connected to another person, but for some it’s difficult to show vulnerability.

Emotionally Distant Relationships and Stress

Men show stress differently than women, they tend to feel helpless when they can’t find a solution to a problem, even if it’s your problem. This shows vulnerability, and for some, it’s a very difficult emotion to accept. If stress is a factor, then space and understanding can go a long way. Let him know that you wish there was something you could do to help. Everyone manages stress differently. Being there for them when they want to talk would be the best way of helping.

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Lastly, keeping yourself busy with your own hobbies and interests is an attractive trait in anyone. According to the Huffington Post it is important to nurture those interests and hobbies. A good partner will see you in a different light, they will admire your independence and hopefully support you.

And in return, don’t forget to support his separate interests as well.  After all, if you do everything together, then what would you have to share at the end of the day? Don’t lose yourself in your relationship, because in doing so, they may feel they’ve lost what first sparked their interest in you to begin with. Remember the old saying, you have to love yourself before others can.

An emotionally distant relationship, as trying as it may be, does not have to equal doom. If you love your partner, then it’s worth trying to get to the root of the problem. Try these steps, because his distance can be a result of several factors. And one thing to remember is that their distance may not be about you at all. Give your relationship time, and give it patience, and in this process you may find your relationship growing closer than ever before.

Featured photo credit: Portishead1/istock via vix.com

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Kathleen Lum

Freelance Writer

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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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