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9 Ways To Be Less Clingy In Your Relationship

9 Ways To Be Less Clingy In Your Relationship

It’s no secret that relationships are tricky. Even if you feel like you’ve found the right person for you, it can be hard to find the right balance between closeness and personal space. While that fine line is different for everyone, if you find yourself tending towards the clingy side, here are nine ways to reel in that clinginess and give your partner some room.

1. Work on any trust issues you have

It can sound like a no-brainer, but it’s incredibly important to trust your partner. If you don’t trust him or her, then it will be impossible to let your partner have the space to be who he or she really is. Not having trust in your significant other can make him or her feel less secure about the relationship and lead to feelings of resentment. Trust is key to maintaining a good, long-term relationship that will make both of you happy. Placing trust in your partner can mean anything from not constantly asking where he or she is during the day, to reminding yourself that even getting frustrated with this new step is good for your relationship, even when it doesn’t seem like it is.

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2. Let people have their space

Love does not mean you and your partner need to be attached at the hip. For many couples, too much closeness can put a strain on the relationship. While sharing — thoughts, feelings, space, whatever — is definitely good in any relationship, too much sharing can make your significant other feel trapped. No one wants to suffocate in a relationship. It’s best to give your partner the space he or she needs. That way, your partner is less likely to associate your relationship with negative feelings, which makes the relationship stronger in the long run.

3. Focus on yourself

Take some time to really center your thoughts on yourself. It’s amazing how much we can learn about ourselves and our feelings if we just take the time to think about things alone. Take some time to focus your thoughts inward. Time alone can really help you not only feel centered and rested, but it can also show your significant other that you’re not dependent on him or her for happiness. Dependency can lead to one partner feeling more responsible in the relationship than the other, which can lead to major problems in the future.

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4. Pursue what interests you

Clinginess can often become a problem for those whose lives center solely around their partner. It’s important to prioritize your own goals and interests. Not only do these give you something to focus your attention on, but they also provide a healthy outlet for your energy. Instead of focusing too much on your partner, try turning it more towards something constructive. This will give your significant other a little breathing room, while still maintaining a balanced relationship.

5. Manage your anxiety

If you’re prone to anxiety or nerves, it can be easy to turn to your partner as a way to ease that discomfort. However, this can make your partner feel too responsible for your happiness, and can be an inconstant way to manage your feelings. Instead, try turning that anxiety into something positive and consistent, such as a daily ritual or activity. Simply doing habitual tasks can ease anxious feelings and leave you with more positive energy to put into the relationship. If you find yourself chronically anxious or with feelings that cannot be managed easily, speak to a doctor.

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6. Keep your body language in check

We often use body language to communicate affection, such as holding hands or adopting an open posture around those we care about. However, body language can also be a warning sign. Clinginess can be physical, just as much as it can be emotional and psychological. If you find yourself constantly needing to touch your partner, even as a reassurance that they’re still there, it can be problematic. Some people may feel physically held back or reserved if they are touched too much, so make sure you’re respecting your partner’s boundaries.

7. Build up confidence in yourself

Self-confidence can go a long way in ensuring that you feel good in a relationship. People with more self-confidence are less likely to cling to others as a way of validating themselves. Consider practicing positive thinking and self-love. If you respect and love yourself, it makes it that much easier for others to do the same.

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8. Develop your social networking

Often, clinginess can derive from too much of one thing. If you feel like your significant other is the only person you see anymore, it might be a sign that you need to diversify your social scene. Whether it’s going out with friends, joining a book club, or just paying your parents a visit, getting out there and talking to other people can help steer you away from clingy behavior.

9. Talk about it

While it’s always good to talk things over with your partner, working through your clinginess might help you arrive at a solution that you’re both comfortable with. Maybe your partner has a problem with one specific aspect of your behavior, or feels uncomfortable about something. Letting him or her know that you’re willing to work on the problem together lets your partner know that you care about them and their comfort in the relationship. If you work on things together, it’s more likely that you’ll be able to solve the problem at hand and become less clingy in a way that ends up strengthening your relationship.

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Maggie Heath

Maggie is a passionate writer who blogs about communication and lifestyle 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

Reference

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