“Real magic in relationships means an absence of judgment of others.”
Relationships can meaningful, enjoyable, and absolutely loving. They can also be destructive, unpleasant, and hateful. Romantic relationships are often the most impactful and profound accords you will engage in. They are often the cause of much joy and/or pain.
Whether or not you experience a blissful romantic relationship or a torrid one, they are challenging. It is often difficult for people to adjust to sharing their life with someone else. As humans, we seek to obtain romantic partnerships during our lives, but we have the tendency of coming into conflict with one another.
Some romantic relationships are able to overcome this conflict and continue to flourish for long periods of time. Others are unable to last. Often couples are simply not right for each other for one reason or another. People change, and amidst this change, romantic partnerships become increasingly difficult to maintain.
But why do so many romantic relationships fail? It is not necessarily unfavorable when relationships end. Often they end for a very good reason and both parties are better off because they gained new perspective from the experience.
Despite the benefits that result from a broken relationship, most people would agree breakups are quite difficult and painful. So how do you build for your next relationship or how do you strengthen the current relationship you are in? What are the pitfalls of romantic relationships that cause unnecessary strife and misery?
1. Unrealistic Expectations for Yourself
You have to look yourself in the mirror and be honest with yourself. In spite of your desire to believe otherwise, you are not a relationship superman or superwoman. You have to have realistic expectations for yourself throughout the relationship, just as you have for all aspects of your life.Advertising
The more pressure you put on yourself to be the “perfect” partner, the more likely you are going to come up short. Trying too hard is only going to put strain on you, your partner, and the relationship. A healthy relationship will flow naturally, expectations will be realistic, and the connection is not forced.
If you are in a relationship, and you notice yourself trying so hard to make everything just right for your partner, but at the end of the day you still don’t feel worthy enough or you feel your partner doesn’t find you worthy enough, you are setting unrealistic expectations for yourself.
I’m not suggesting you don’t make an effort to be a wonderful partner, but there are limits to what you can do in the relationship. Understand those limits for yourself and simply enjoy being with your partner. You can only make yourself happy in the relationship—no one else.
2. Unrealistic Expectations for Your Partner
Don’t have unrealistic expectations for your partner. You expect that your partner is going to respect you, care for you, love you, and not hurt you. These are realistic expectations anyone who is in a romantic relationship doesn’t even think about because they are straightforward. There might be more expectations you can add to this list, but this list shouldn’t be excessively long.
Often people get into relationships for the wrong reasons. They expect their partner to make them happy or they expect their partner to be a personal servant. These are examples of unrealistic expectations that can be detrimental to any relationship, especially a romantic relationship.
If you embark into a relationship with gaudy expectations for your partner, prepare to be disappointed. Unless your partner is so in love with you that he or she is blinded, the chances of this kind of relationship lasting and being fulfilling for both people, are very slim.
3. The Need to Be Right
Let go of the need to be right. This one simple change will bring you much more satisfaction in your personal life. It is especially important for the foundation of a strong relationship.
When you are in a romantic relationship you are going to experience conflict and disagreements. You are going to know when you are right and you are going to know when you are wrong. If you and your partner both surrender the need to be right, there will be less arguing and more resolving of problematic situations because you are both looking out for what is best for the relationship—not what is best for the individual.Advertising
Just because you let go of the need to be right doesn’t make you a pushover or a weak human being. You will know when to stand up for yourself and speak your mind on important issues. Letting go of the need to be right suggests that you are comfortable with yourself and your partner, and you have complete respect for the relationship.
4. Jealousy and Other Fear-Based Emotions
Jealousy, anger, fear, insecurity, unhappiness, selfishness, control destroy romantic relationships. When you are jealous you don’t trust your partner. If you don’t trust your partner, than how are you supposed to build a long-lasting relationship together?
Jealousy can come in many forms, but it is rooted in fear: fear that your partner is going to cheat on you; fear that your partner doesn’t love you enough; fear that your partner is going to leave you; fear that you aren’t good enough for your partner.
Quite often these fears are self-created. Your mind plays out scenarios and you believe them. Perhaps you were hurt or wronged in past relationships so you decide to carry fear based emotions into your next relationship. Especially when there is no basis for the fear than you are setting yourself up for failure.
If you have sound reason to believe your partner is cheating on you or mistreating you in some way than speak with your partner or end the relationship. It is not worth putting yourself through emotional hell by being jealous and afraid.
A romantic relationship is a partnership. In order for a partnership to work and be successful both sides have to be willing to share with one another. Both sides have to be willing to be selfless to the other person.
Many romantic relationships fail because people are too selfish. Being selfish is not beneficial for anyone much less someone in a relationship. Selfish people are generally viewed as difficult, and often they isolate themselves from others. People don’t want to be around people who only take but never give.
It is important to keep yourself in check when you are in a relationship. Ask yourself what you can do for your partner today to help him or her. Hopefully serving your partner in this way is pleasurable for you.Advertising
I think people sometimes develop the misconception that being in a relationship means you abdicate your freedom or independence. I disagree with this because I think it is constructive for partners to be independent people while also maintaining their relationship status. Partners don’t have to be attached at the hip.
Being independent in a relationship doesn’t make you selfish. Independent people are comfortable on their own, but also relish spending time with their partners. Selfish people use their partners for their own personal gain or profit, as they do most people they encounter in life.
6. Defensive Attitude
Has your partner ever asked you to do something, for example, help more around the house and you immediately go on the defensive? You refute your partner’s claims that you aren’t helping enough by describing examples of all those times you were helpful. Instead of listening to what your partner is saying you create stories in your mind that your partner doesn’t appreciate you.
I have been there and done that. I was the best defender in my past relationships because I couldn’t put my ego aside, and listen to what my partner was saying. Instead of trying to understand what she wanted, and discovering how I could be more helpful in the relationship, I shifted into defensive mode. Many people do this in romantic relationships because they interpret a criticism from their partner as an insult and a personal attack.
There is a tendency for partners to take each other too seriously. Conflict is created when partners take what each other says and does very personally. Taking things personally from your partner, someone whom loves you and doesn’t want to hurt you, is quite frankly, toxic for a relationship. You will know when words and actions from your partner are harmful, and require you to respond in a stern manner. Until that moment try to let the minute stuff go.
It is noxious in any relationship to hold grudges. Don’t hold grudges with your romantic partner unless you want to experience loads and loads of negative emotion.
Your partner is going to make mistakes. He or she might get agitated with you or say something that you don’t agree with. Learning to forgive and forget will strengthen your relationship. It will build a foundation that will give you the tools to conquer any adversity that confronts your relationship.
If your partner does something truly destructive that you are unable to overcome then perhaps ending the relationship is best for the both of you. Even in these instances forgiveness is the best medicine for you to move on.Advertising
Grudges are wasted energy in a relationship. It takes more physical, mental, and emotional energy to hold onto a grudge than forgiving your partner and releasing the pent up anger. As I said previously, your partner is not trying to hurt you so try your best to move on.
8. Conditional Love
Conditional love implies there are fulfillments required from your partner in order for him or her to receive your love. This is a recipe for an unhappy and unloving relationship.
Love your partner freely because you enjoy loving him or her. Don’t love your partner with expectations that he or she does something for you. This will lead to destructive behaviors and consistent arguing.
Unconditional love is the key to making a romantic relationships blossom. Love your partner despite his or her flaws because no one is perfect. This begins with acceptance of your partner no matter what. If you can’t accept your partner, you can’t love your partner unconditionally. Love your partner for no reason at all just as you love yourself and be grateful he or she is in your life.
Enjoy your romantic relationship. Being in love is one of the great experiences of life so give yourself and your partner a chance to savor this experience. Let go of the very controllable pitfalls that obstruct long lasting and joyful relationships. Resolve issues in the relationship together as a team. Don’t hold onto negative emotions, rather communicate openly with your partner. Love and be loved!
Featured photo credit: Happy Young Couple in Winter Park having fun.Family Outdoors. love via shutterstock.com
Last Updated on January 15, 2021
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension. 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.
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? 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.
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.
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:
“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.
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.
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
- Increasing Confidence with Body Language
- 8 Fatal Body Language Mistakes To Avoid During Presentations
- Be Instantly Irresistible With These 10 Body Language Tips
Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com
|||^||Berkeley News: The 16 facial expressions most common to emotional situations worldwide|
|||^||Science Daily: Teeth grinding and facial pain increase due to coronavirus stress and anxiety|
|||^||National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research: TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint & Muscle Disorders|
|||^||Michigan Medicine: Stress Management: Doing Progressive Muscle Relaxation|
|||^||Spectra Magazine: Oculesics: Science Speaks Where Words Do Not|
|||^||NCBI: Attention to Eye Contact in the West and East: Autonomic Responses and Evaluative Ratings|
|||^||ResearchGate: An Anthropology of the Handshake|
|||^||Sage Journals: Mapping the Range of Information Contained in the Iconic Hand Gestures that Accompany Spontaneous Speech|
|||^||Journal of Experimental Psychology: Hand Matters: Left-Hand Gestures Enhance Metaphor Explanation|