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How These 10 Things You Do Can Ruin A Perfectly Good Relationship

How These 10 Things You Do Can Ruin A Perfectly Good Relationship

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so what better time to consider the status of modern relationships in the UK?

With Valentine’s Day spending set to exceed £1 billion in the UK after rising incrementally for the last two years, it would initially appear as though there are a healthy number of loving and contented relationships nationwide. The fact that men are continuing to do the majority of spending also suggests that the age of chivalry is far from dead, as male consumers look to spoil their loved ones with clothes, spa treatments and romantic breaks away. Even the concept of marriage, which is often undermined by a national divorce rate of approximately 40%, has become increasingly popular over the last two years with the rate of weddings having risen by 6.6% in this time.

As anyone in a relationship will testify, however, those involved must be proactive and invest time into making it successful. There are numerous internal and external factors that can impact on a relationship, so you need to take responsibility for your own actions and attitude. With this in mind, consider the following issues and how they can turn even the happiest relationship sour: –

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1. Neglecting to Take Care of your Appearance

While this may sound superficial, the level of pride that you take in your appearance often reflects you inherent values and the attitude that you have towards your relationship. Those who neglect to take care of themselves are essentially revealing a lack of drive or hunger for self-improvement, while also underlining the fact that they are not prepared to make an effort to look nice for their partner. This can slowly eat away at the foundations of a relationship, especially if your partner is extremely motivated to keep fit and take care of the image that they present.

2. Taking your Partner for Granted

Married couples have taken a lifetime vow to love and care for one another, and while this does not always work out, the original sentiment is almost universally heartfelt and genuine. It is all too easy for even happy and contented relationships to become stale, however, especially if you begin to take your partner for granted and fail to appreciate the qualities that you initially fell in love with all those years’ ago. For a relationship to remain happy and satisfied, you must continue to prove your love and appreciation throughout the duration of your time together.

3. Stockpiling Negative Emotions

Relationships are not always easy, as even genuine soul mates can encounter periods of turbulence, conflict and even infidelity. While the power of love can go a long way towards resolving these individual issues, however, it is crucial that you do not stockpile negative emotions in a way the breeds resentment, jealously or paranoia. If you continue to harbor negative feelings after a relationship breakdown, you must communicate this openly and ensure that they are resolved before you move on.

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4. Being Overly Critical of a Partner

We all have our own unique standards in life, and in an ideal world we would find a mate who shared these as closely as possible. This is not always possible, however, meaning that we must occasionally compromise on these ideals if a relationship to be successful. If you do find yourself in this position, it is also crucial that you refrain from being too critical of a partner who has less than exacting standards. The differences between two individuals must be embraced in a successful relationship, rather than being picked upon and criticized.

5. Failing to Understand Each Other’s Expectations from Life

It should be clear by now that a lack of communication is pivotal to the majority of most relationship issues, and this also applies to a failure to understand your partners’ expectations. Life goals vary according to each individual, as while some desire nothing more than to start a family others have more career-orientated aspirations. While there may be room for both in the modern family, it is crucial that every individual understands the needs of their partner and works together in a bid to achieve them.

6. Neglecting to Follow your Own Interests

While shared hobbies and pursuits offer couples the chance to strengthen their bond, it is also important that each individual has their own interests and past-times. This ensures that people retain their own unique identity throughout the course of their relationship, while it also creates talking points for couples to share at the end of a long, hard day. If you neglect to follow your interests, you could easily become frustrated and demotivated through the course of everyday life.

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7. Putting Yourself and Your Needs First

All successful relationships are based on a sense of compromise and collaboration, as each individual must consider the needs of their partner and place these ahead of their own. Individuals who continue to put their own needs first are unlikely to prosper in a relationship, simply because their better half will become tired of being marginalized and having their feelings disregarded over a prolonged period of time.

8. Avoiding Honest and Open Communication in a Bid to Keep the Peace

While honesty can ultimately save and preserve a relationship, it may also cause a significant amount of conflict and disruption in the process. You must never be afraid of engaging in honest and open communication as a way of resolving relationship issues, as your willingness to confront harsh home-truths reflects a desire to make a love-match work. If you look to avoid confrontation simply as a way of keeping the peace, the chances are that unresolved issues will fester and ultimately end the relationship prematurely.

9. Failing to Create the Ideal Work-life Balance

We all need to work, and the willingness to provide for your family is extremely admirable. While you would expect your partner to be understanding of your need to work irregular hours or occasional weekends, however, they may become frustrated if your schedule begins to impact negatively on the relationship. You must therefore strive to create a viable work-life balance, which enables you to spend more time at home and pay attention to the people that you love the most.

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10. Refusing to Say Sorry Even When you are in the Wrong

On a final note, not even the most loving relationship can survive without a certain amount of mutual respect. This can be shown in various ways, but one of the most obvious is the willingness to apologize and show remorse when you are in the wrong. This shows a keen sense of maturity and integrity, as you are happy to accept when you have made a mistake and offended your partner. If sorry is the hardest word for you to say, however, this stubborn and short-sighted outlook may well end up costing you your relationship.

Featured photo credit: Loving couple at the beach via shutterstock.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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