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3 Critical Mistakes You’re Probably Making That Hold You Back from Finding a Good Partner

3 Critical Mistakes You’re Probably Making That Hold You Back from Finding a Good Partner

Everybody needs love.

But it’s not always easy to find it.

In fact, sometimes we get into such a rut of thinking a certain way that it can actually keep us from connecting with a potential partner. Or it might keep sending us to the wrong kind of partner: one who seems attractive at first, but ultimately isn’t good for a healthy, long-term relationship. If you feel like that’s happening in your life, take a look at these three critical mistakes that might be holding you back.

1. You’re not at peace with who you are.

I am all about becoming a better person everyday. And so are you, if you’re hanging out at LifeHack. You want to be better. You want to learn. You have a core of dissatisfaction that keeps you from settling, from being comfortable with average.

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Personal growth is a noble endeavor if you pursue it from a sense of your own worth as a person. That sense of inherent worth—knowing that you matter, even if you never get as “good” as you want to be—gives you a deep, settled peace with who you are as a person. You have to know, as you seek to grow and improve, that the core of who you are is invaluable, amazing, and inherently worthwhile.

Being at peace with who you are means that you aren’t out to prove yourself to any person or any group. You’re developing yourself for your own reasons, because you realize that you’re worthwhile and you have the ability to contribute to the world in a meaningful way. When you pursue growth and self-betterment from that perspective, you do it with calmness, with peace, and with compassion.

When you’re not at peace with who you are, you change to please others. Your need for approval will outweigh your own confidence, and you will hide your quirks, your desires, your personality, and your needs in order to fit in to someone else’s expectations. But nobody can keep that up forever.

When you begin a relationship on a false note, eventually you have to decide: am I going to be honest about who I am, or am I going to walk away from this relationship to avoid being honest?

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When you are not at peace with who you are, you project an image of yourself. And that image isn’t always very close to the real thing. So you end up attracting people to an image, but not to the real you. In short, you’re attracting the wrong kind of people—people who fit your image, but not people who fit with your core, your heart, your real self. In order to attract those kind of people, you have to put away the image and be real.

2. You believe the fronts that other people put up.

When you are not at peace with who you are, and you’re operating mainly behind a front yourself, it’s difficult to see that others are doing the same. You want people to believe in the image you project of yourself, and you want to believe it yourself. Sometimes you do. You get so into your role, so invested in this image, that you blind yourself to what’s really going on.

You will see in others what they project to you. Your inability to go deeper and be honest about yourself affects how you see others. Unfortunately, that means you are blind to the fronts that other people might put up, as well. That guy who is always cocky or that girl who acts like she knows it all? You believe them. You don’t really see that they’re just trying to justify their own existence and hide their insecurities.

In the world of relationships, this blindness can be kind of scary, because the most troubled, insecure, and hurting people tend to put up rather big and bold fronts. If you can’t see through that, you might jump into a relationship that you think is with a confident, secure, stable person, inwardly hoping that they will balance out all your insecurity. Eventually you will find that they have the same insecurities and pains, and you can’t help each other until you both do a little inward healing and growing yourself.

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3. You don’t have a life of your own yet.

Maybe you’re still depending on your parents.

Maybe your peers, best friends, your old relationships, or your co-workers are defining your lifestyle for you.

There is some person or group you depend on to tell you what you like, what you do, where you go, and what you’re about.

You have never stepped away long enough to develop your own interests and your own opinions. It’s probably because you’re still not at peace with who you are, so you’re not willing to step out there and say: this is what I’m about; this is what I like; this is who I am. You’re still trying to hold a front up and fulfill other people’s expectations.

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It’s time to break free from that.

When you don’t have your own interests and your own life yet, you will be looking for a partner to provide those for you. But the truth is this: no one else can give you your own life. Only you can do that. And it’s only when you decide to do that, and start building a life of your own, that you will attract and recognize someone whose life is compatible with yours.

Not someone just like you. Not someone with a substitute life you can hide in. But someone whose life can complement yours, can mesh with it in good ways, while you also both maintain your own identities and interests.

You want to share certain core values and interests, and also have offshoots that are uniquely yours. This combination is what gives a relationship strength and solidarity (in shared interests and shared values) and enough breathing space and individuality (in the things that are each uniquely yours) that you can respect and value each other, long-term.

But you can’t get that kind of relationship unless you first know what you’re about, and can be at peace with who you are. Start working on accepting yourself and building a life you love, and see what happens.

Featured photo credit: kohlmann.sascha via flickr.com

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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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