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You Know You Love Someone When…

You Know You Love Someone When…

So you’ve been dating someone knew for a couple months and things are getting pretty serious. You talk to each other almost every day and the date on the weekend is all but assumed. You are certainly fond of this person and hanging out with them is a great source of fun and happiness for you. But is it love? If you can check off all eight items on this list, you just might be head-over-heels.

1. They Are Your First Thought

When you emerge from the fog of a good night’s sleep and the world begins to come into focus around you, your significant other pops into your head. As you stare at yourself sleepily in the mirror while brushing your teeth, you are already planning the next great date you can take her on or  wondering if he will like the outfit you put together for the day.

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2. You Tell Them Your Secrets

If you don’t feel embarrassed to share things you really ought to be embarrassed about, you might be in love. There are some parts of your life that don’t readily share with people unless you are comfortable with them getting to know the real you. For example, if you’re hanging out with your partner making dinner and, without flinching, you tell them about the time you called your teacher mom, you might as well blurt out the L-bomb right then and there.

3. You Are Fond of Their Imperfections

At least in the early stages of love you start to like everything about the other person. Even the little things they do that would drive you crazy if anyone else did them become strangely endearing. Maybe he snorts when he laughs, maybe she eats her peas one at a time. If you find yourself making doe eyes at behavior that you can objectively say would normally give you a stress-headache, you are probably beyond saving.

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4. You Mentally Include Them in Your Long-Term Future

Another sure-fire way to tell you’re in love with someone is if they start appearing in your long-term thoughts and plans. If you have always wanted to move to the West Coast and suddenly then you imagine yourself basking in the sunshine with your significant other, there is a pretty good chance you might love them. If you have difficulty imagining your future without them you can be even more sure of your feelings.

5. You Think They’re Special

We all think we are unique little snowflakes floating along on the breeze of life, but we rarely feel that way about other people. In fact, we so rarely think that other people are special that when we do it is a pretty good indication that they are either a very close friend or we are in love with them. Love blinds us to the cold rationality of statistics and lets us feel like, against all odds, we have found our one, true soul mate.

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6. You Want to be With Them

When you’re in love you start to make allowances in terms of what you feel is a normal amount of time to spend with someone. If you were together all weekend, you went for lunch on Monday, and you are still excited to plan dinner and a movie for Tuesday night, there is a good chance you’re in love. In fact, scientists have even shown that people in love demonstrate the same obsessive behavior as drug or gambling addicts when it comes to the object of their romantic attachment.

7. You Want Your Friends to Like Them

If you are worried about what your friends and family will think of the person you are dating it is probably because you are hoping to integrate them into Thanksgiving Dinners and Game Nights for years to come. Once your thoughts about someone else move outside of yourself and start including how they will mesh with the other people in your life, you can be reasonably sure you’re in a serious relationship.

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8. You Want to Keep Them Around

Finally, and above all else you are in love with someone if you continue loving them as your relationship matures. Most of the things I’ve discussed already are stages that pass on the path of a long-term relationship. New love is crazy and obsessive and irrational, but eventually that all fades away and you begin to see the other person for who they really are. If you have been together long enough to reclaim your ability to think logically and you still want to keep them around, you can be sure your love is the real thing.

Featured photo credit: Greg Jordan 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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