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How to Know If You’re Really in Love or Not (Yes It Can Be Confusing)

How to Know If You’re Really in Love or Not (Yes It Can Be Confusing)

So, you’ve met a new special someone and the two of you have started a romantic relationship. You find yourself thinking about them a little more often than before and now you get those butterfly feelings in your stomach just before you’re about to see them.

Does this mean you’re in love? Or could this just be the honeymoon phase that every relationship goes through? Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if you’re really in love or not.

What Does It Mean to Be In Love?

Being in love means desiring the happiness of your partner, admiring them for the individual they are, and feeling motivated to be a better person. When you are in love, your relationship goes beyond a simple physical attraction. It is experiencing happiness at the idea of two individual and independent people choosing to share time together. If you are in love, you are driven to be compassionate, generous, and caring to your special someone.

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The Signs of Being In Love

So you’re probably thinking, “that’s great, but how do I know if I’m really in love or not?” Good question. See if any of the following signs of being in love[1] apply to you:

  • You have stopped thinking about your ex. In fact, you don’t even remember the last time you thought of him/her.
  • You’re happier doing mundane chores when you’re together. Washing the dishes used to be terrible, right? But not with your partner beside you to help.
  • You two start making future plans together. Before, date planning only went as far ahead as the upcoming weekend. Now, you’re talking about going to see the fall leaves change colors – and it’s only July.
  • You want to do things together. Yes, you have been to the zoo 20 times before. But not with your partner and you just know it would be better together.
  • You automatically want to share your good and bad news with them. Got a promotion at work? You don’t even think about your best friend now, instead you shoot a text to your partner.
  • You are reminded of him/her every time you’re out. “Nice shoes, John would love those.” “Awesome game, Jess would love to play that.” It just comes naturally because they’re always on your mind.
  • You’ve started looking forward to the weekend just to have breakfast in bed and watch a “Seinfeld” marathon. Dancing? Clubbing? Did you ever like those things? Yes, when you were single and not in love.

“Love” is Not The Same As “In Love”

People fall in love, it’s natural and part of life’s great journey. You probably didn’t plan on it. Maybe you don’t understand why you’re in love now, but you weren’t in the past. That’s easy. It’s because you can love somebody and never truly be in love with them. Sound confusing? Don’t worry.

Loving somebody is the conscious decision you make to be together, to trust them, to care for them. You can love your friends, you can love your family, maybe you even loved your ex. But, you can’t (or weren’t) in love with those people. That’s a completely different feeling. There’s a reason you aren’t in a romantic relationship with one of your best friends.

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To be in love with somebody is wanting to share your thoughts and feeling with them, feeling safe in their arms, hoping to make them happy, and thinking of them everywhere you go.[2]

Who Cares if I’m in Love or Not?

What kind of question is that?! Who cares if you’re in love or not? You should care! Every time your heart races when the phone rings, each time you catch yourself daydreaming of a future together – these are the reasons to care if you’re in love or not.

Instead of wondering all of time, or waiting for them to confess their feelings, you should try to figure out the answer to this question. If you don’t, you could risk losing the very person you’re supposed to be with. Don’t deny yourself the opportunity of being in love and knowing it.

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How Can You Know Whether the Feelings are Mutual?

After you figure out if you’re in love with your partner or not, you probably want to know if they feel the same way. Maybe you’re at the point in your relationship where you’re trying to figure out if it’s the right time to say those magic words – “I love you.” Well, there are some signs you can look for to determine if the feelings are mutual or not.[3]

Pay Attention to Their Words

If your partner starts talking about a future together, that’s a surefire way to know they’re probably also in love with you. If they see you in their future, it’s because they want you there.

What about the way they talk to you? Does your partner mention very specific things about your personality that they love? Things like, “I love the way I feel when we’re together.” and “You always know how to make me feel good.” are pretty big indicators that they’re probably in love.

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Pay Attention to Their Actions

You know the saying, “Actions speak louder than words.” It’s the truth. So, what are their actions telling you?

Is your partner always there for you when you need support? Do they always listen to whatever you have to say, even if you’re just complaining about your boss for the thousandth time? If they take care of you when you’re feeling bad, bring you your favorite takeout just because, or come over with a movie – chances are, they’re in love with you, too. People who are in love with each other make an effort to spend time together and be supportive of each other.

Pay Attention to How They Act Around You

This is more than paying attention to their actions. This is paying attention to the way they hold themselves around you. Does it feel natural or fake?

Somebody who’s in love in happy to see their partner, smiles at them, makes eye contact, and reaches out for a much needed hug. If seeing you doesn’t make them seem more energetic or excited, they might not be in love. That’s because being near the people we’re in love with changes our behavior. We’re suddenly happier and just feel better. That feeling should shine through.

Armed with this information, you should be able to answer that question that’s been nagging at you for days. Are you really in love? And, is your partner really in love with you, too?

Reference

More by this author

Amber Pariona

EFL Teacher, Lifehack Writer, English/Spanish Translator, MPA

What Makes a Relationship Boring and How to Avoid It How to Know If You’re Really in Love or Not (Yes It Can Be Confusing) Why You and Your Partner Don’t Need to Speak the Same Love Language to Stay Together Why Worrying About Losing a Friend Is Unnecessary No.1 Relationship Killer: Your Good Intention to Advise Your Partner When They’re Upset

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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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