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Relationship Pitfalls You Can Avoid to Keep your Relationship Alive

Relationship Pitfalls You Can Avoid to Keep your Relationship Alive

Human nature is all about relationships. Finding them, keeping them together and keeping each other happy are the things that keep us well. Stress and misery can destroy our minds as well as our bodies. A ruined relationship can ruin your outlook on life itself. Here are a few pitfalls and some suggestions for avoiding them.

1. Take time to celebrate.

Back in college I celebrated Valentine’s Day as “V-D” and associated its festivities with the festering wounds I’d suffered from relationships gone bad. My friends and roommates got together for “anti-V.D.” parties and we crafted hearts from cloth and pinned them to our sleeves. We replaced the four-letter word “love” with an abbreviation that doubled as a pun.

What changed? Well, I grew up. Got married to the right guy and had a couple of kids. I learned along the way just how to avoid the common relationship pitfalls that leave many lovers limp-legged on the side of the road of life.

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One of the pitfalls in a relationship is stagnation, so take time to celebrate holidays. You don’t have to wait until Valentine’s Day to celebrate your love; you can pick your anniversary or any other day, but take time to rekindle your love as often as possible.

However, be careful how you finance because—

2. Money truly is the root of all evil.

When it comes to romance, we think of long walks on the beach, champagne and relaxed lovers curled up by the fireplace. We don’t factor in the cost of the firewood. Those truly seeking love for love’s sake don’t ask for a balance sheet with the first dozen roses.

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The best way to avoid the money pitfall of a relationship is to watch your significant other while dating. No sleuthing required, but mentally fact-check what kind of work he or she does compared with how extravagantly he or she shops. Love has no price tag and a five-star restaurant can be less romantic than a peanut butter and jelly picnic if the couple can’t pay the tab.

Habits that will ultimately destroy your relationship show up throughout the dating process. We cannot help with whom we fall in love in, but we choose to accept that second or third date. If your date shows signs of spending that will create credit debt in a marriage, you may want to back out.

3. Examine motives for jealousy.

Once you make the decision to engage in a meaningful and monogamous relationship, watch out for jealousy on either side, as this pitfall can surely ruin the romance. If you feel jealous of your partner’s friends, associates or activities, don’t ignore it. Carefully consider the root of the jealousy and accept if you have a reason to worry about how your partner spends his or her time.

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If you worry about the choices your partner makes or if it seems like you are not a priority in your significant other’s life, you first need to openly communicate these feelings. Talking is the single best method for keeping a relationship alive.

True, sometimes jealousy is grounded and your partner has an issue worth confronting. When you start your relationship by talking about your dreams and goals, surprises shouldn’t sneak up. If your rocker boyfriend wants to go on tour with his band, this shouldn’t surprise the girl he met after a show.

4. Change together to keep the relationship strong.

Change is life in action. Similar to the stagnation pitfall, failing to change together is a pitfall that can reroute your partnership. Couples who meet young have much ground to cover and many experiences to weather together. These trials and tribulations of life can wear some couples down and bind others together. The difference lies in the couple’s commitment not only to each other but also to the relationship.

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Change involves an expanding family, a need to focus on health issues or physically moving locations, and through any of these a couple can best survive by staying in constant communication.

5. Stave off stress.

Loving someone means loving him or her on off-days, on stressed-out days and on the days when life blesses you. Avoid taking each other for granted and remember, words have power. Avoid the pitfall of stress by saying “I love you” when you leave the house, and kiss often to boost those endorphins as well as emotions.

6. Silence proves a pitfall.

Of all the relationship pitfalls, the one thing in common is the lack of communication. When an issue presents itself be honest with yourself and your partner. Avoid the temptation to be silent or avoid the situation. Take action for the sake of your relationship and talk it out. More often than not, talking will help you share the burden and shed the stress while strengthening your relationship.

7. Just don’t forget what sparked the relationship.

All relationships are marathons instead of sprints, but only if each partner takes the time to address and understand the journey. The pitfall of forgetting what attracted you to your partner can be best avoided by conscious dedication to the qualities of your partner that made you fall in love. When you follow the suggestions here to celebrate together, stay thrifty, squash jealousy, change together, stave off stress, talk it out and remember what you mean to your loved one your relationship will likely succeed for life.

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Ellen Eldridge

Ellen is a passionate journalist. She shares her everyday life tips at 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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