There are many ways to hurt a relationship without uttering a word. A simple gesture, facial expression, eye movement, or body posture can send a powerful signal to your partner that you don’t value them, love them, or want them in your life. These vibes have the effect of a blow to the stomach.
The more you repeat your behavior, the more you push your partner away. But you can’t seem to help yourself. It’s how you control your relationship and get what you want. But if you value your relationship, you need to wake up, take stock, admit to your wrongdoing, and stop this wordless wounding of your significant other before it’s too late.
Here are 6 nonverbal ways you might be pushing your partner away.
1. You Enter Silent Sulk Mode
This is probably the most damaging of nonverbal attacks. You get into a deep, silent mood that can go on for weeks. Perhaps it happens regularly, but the periods of normality in between are getting shorter and shorter.
You’re no fun at all. Being around you is like being in a morgue. That’s the point. You feel your partner has wronged you in some way. You want them to suffer for the pain they’ve caused. There’ll be no joy till you’re satisfied.
It’s a clever tactic. It often hits the mark. No one wants to be ignored indefinitely. Your partner will do all they can to restore the status quo. But this tactic won’t work forever. Eventually, your partner will tire of it and walk away.
2. Your Mouth Works, But Your Ears Are Broken
When your partner asks, “How was your day?” you can’t wait to talk about it, and to bask in their supportive comments. But you refuse to reciprocate. When your partner tries to talk about their day, you’re not prepared to listen. Your demeanor changes. Your face becomes a mask – emotionless, unanimated. You may roll your eyes.
Then you create a diversion for yourself. You remember that message you needed to send on your phone, or you open a magazine, or rush to the kitchen to stop something from boiling over. You have more important things to do than listen to your partner.
Sometimes you pretend to be listening with the occasional nod or word. But when your partner stops midstream to test you, you don’t even notice because you were never in the conversation in the first place.
This lack of interest in your partner’s affairs is counterproductive. In time, your partner stops listening to you too, and you grow further apart. No one likes to be treated with indifference. You might then complain to friends and family that your partner has become remote and you don’t know why. You need to show your partner that they matter, too.
3. Stink Eye Becomes Your Default Expression
Your face is capable of showing a number of different emotions. One of these is anger. When your partner says or does something that clearly bothers you, your face becomes pinched, your eyes frosty, and your mouth compressed. You have a brooding, caged-animal presence. You don’t say a word, although you may start throwing things around, slamming doors, or kicking the dog. Your attitude is intimidating.
If your partner tries to call you out about your anger, you deny that you’re angry at all. But your words don’t match your body language. You’re sending out mixed signals. Your partner eventually comes to see your nonverbal rage as representative of your true self. They start to fear you and to grow more and more remote.
You may have a legitimate reason to feel angry, but this is not the way to deal with it. Anger management and counseling would be a better way of trying to resolve the issue.
This is another form of nonverbal communication that is wounding to your partner. It involves holding yourself aloof from the intimacy expected of a loving relationship. It leaves your partner feeling unhappy, but unable to break the cycle because you won’t talk about it.
It’s a type of silent treatment. You’re blackmailing your partner for some perceived wrong and won’t relax till they’ve learnt a lesson. You’re signaling your refusal to commit fully during intimate moments. You may even look to the side or to the ceiling in a deliberate show of disinterest. These types of moments require an exchange of feelings, thoughts, and everything else that knits a meaningful relationship together. Again, it may be a tactic you resort to frequently to make a point or get things happening on your terms.
But this doesn’t settle important issues in a relationship. The more you refuse to talk, the more your partner believes it’s better to leave you alone for all time.
5. You Put Your Partner Under A Microscope
Again, you don’t say a wrong word. But you subject your partner to your relentless gaze whenever you’re in the same space. Your eyebrows are raised, your expression withering, and your mouth curled. Worse still is when you cross your arms and assume a stiff upper body posture.
Occasionally, you crack a smile when your partner does something you approve of. But your partner feels they are constantly being analyzed and torn down. Your nonverbal stance is a form of manipulation and your partner will not be willing to withstand it forever. They start to wonder what it would be like if you were not around with your judgmental gaze and attitude.
When they challenge you about your behavior, you brush it off with, “You’re being ridiculous,” or even, “That’s not true. I love and appreciate you.” But what you are saying is completely at variance with your demeanor. This causes a lack of trust.
Try to relax, and go easy on the eye contact. Try to use it to reflect affection and appreciation rather than disapproval. Above all, give your partner some space. They don’t constantly need your approval.
6. You Become A Hug Free Zone
You’re awkward around your partner, even when you’re not outwardly fighting. When your partner is relaxed and tries to get closer, to lean in and embrace you, you exude negative body language. You can’t relax in the same way. You resist a full body hug. You move or lean away and cross your legs and arms in a defensive posture. Your upper body is stiff, like you’re in a straitjacket. You’re closing off the intimacy.
Although you give a sunny smile, it looks – and feels – forced. It doesn’t reach your eyes. You’re reflecting discomfort with your environment. A smile that’s genuine causes your eyes to crinkle at the corners. It can’t be faked.
Practice smiling genuinely. And relax your shoulders and uncross your arms. Your significant other will feel comfortable around you in no time.
Nonverbal language is more powerful than verbal language and therefore more destructive. You are communicating unfavorable feelings when you are with your partner, or listening to them speak. Sometimes your negativity has nothing to do with your partner. Whatever is stressing you needs to be dealt with. It will help improve your relationship.