2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
10 October 2020
From the minute I looked at the photograph my friend handed me I could see it. Innocuous enough image, two people by a lake, he stood behind her. If she could have seen his eyes she wouldn’t have been smiling. There was something ‘off’ about them, empty of emotion, he was ‘gone’.
When I casually asked, “Is everything ok between you and Tom?” She said “why what did you see? It’s just a photo.” She then admitted it hadn’t been right for a long time. I suggested she be brave enough to ask a big question – “Do you have someone else?” Sure enough, when asked the direct question, he took a breath in and then blurted the lot – he had started an affair with someone he worked with a few months earlier, nothing special at first…and now it was. He moved out that that day, and in with the object of his desire. A few months later my friend was divorced and her ex-husband had a very pregnant girlfriend.
If someone asks a brave question like:
“Are you still in this?”
“Do you still want to be with me?”
“How do you feel about me …….really?”
Then one of three things happens – #1 it’s over within 24 hours and somebody has moved out. #2 they get help from a professional couples counselor/communication coach. #3 they start talking and figure it out themselves.
#2 is magical to see happen – and I have seen it work many times – either with people I’ve worked with, or after they’ve worked with counselors I’ve referred them to. I honed my compassionate assertive model on couples in trouble way back in 2011, and one of those couples who had been living basically as flatmates for six years in a sexless marriage are still together today because of 4 brave questions over a last ditch attempt dinner to save their marriage before she went to a lawyer.
I should point out at this juncture that is not always the case. It is really difficult to build back up from nothing once those long languorous glances have lessened. When the room fails to light up anymore when they walk into it and everyone else fades away. When you stop being in sync – in walking, eating, gestures.
I truly believe that these long looks (8.2 seconds to be precise) are ‘the spark’. The spark that keeps couples loved up, and sensible even during disagreements or conflict. The spark that adds heat to sex, and a sense of belonging at other times.
Territorial gestures are adorable, as long as they are not in conjunction with control freak or narcissistic vibes or signals. Like a hand in the small of a woman’s back. Like a hand on the middle of a man’s chest. Over sexual ‘bragging’ like a hand on the butt of a woman, or a horizontal hand low down on a man’s torso. Figure of four leg crosses which fence off your ‘woman/man’ creating a barrier in a “hands off my person” move.
I see everything when I’m out and about, and even if I can’t hear what couples are saying or how they are treating each other, I see it. In every lean in or lean away, micro-expressions, touch of the ear or neck, bite of the lip, or the length of eye contact.
Silence speaks volumes, there’s a difference between being comfortable with a short silence and having nothing left to say. Awkwardness is weird to watch, depending on the body language it can mean that someone is being undermined, or being treated like a parent/child relationship. If at some point it switches to resigned-ness then the behaviour I’m seeing is habitual, not just a one off. It has been fully enabled and invited in and is now the new normal.
I can tell in a restaurant who is on a first date (and how it’s going). How long (give or take) existing couples have been together (and if it will last). If they are with someone they shouldn’t be.
Recently I even picked ground zero of a new affair between work colleagues in a meeting I was having in a café. I noticed them as they came in and my first thoughts were a couple on a second marriage, which explained the newness vibe I was getting. Then I realised that it wasn’t that. He was too jittery, nervous looking, guilty even, and yet simultaneously he couldn’t take his eyes off her.
Retired FBI agent and body language expert Joe Navarro, believes that you can’t tell an affair just from rubbing or twisting of a wedding ring and I agree. Without any other evidence it could just be a self – soothing gestures which people do to pass the time or calm themselves down. I do it with my favourite bracelet that I’ve had for 30 years. But, with other evidence, it is what it is, and that day in conjunction with everything else, he touched his wedding ring and then twisted it in the split second he decided to cross the line in a way that would change his life – and others. Sure enough, a month later when I went to a networking event in that town someone told me about them starting a relationship and leaving their partners.
There’s a moment in time where people realise that they ‘like, like’ each other, and they still have choice. Walk away, or give in to it and see where it goes. Some people should absolutely fight that urge, and for others it’s possibly a blessing that they don’t. I’m not condoning extra relationship affairs, just stating that after a certain point it’s inevitable. Here’s the one fact that I believe to be true in relationships.
Happy people cannot be tempted away.
Knowing that, how can you change the way you treat your other? Would you be more considerate? Would you be more open?
Would you ask ‘ brave’ questions if you know that your relationship is fading?
The clues are always there in every glance, and every move. You are missing out if you don’t take notice.
This VIRTUAL live session has 20 Good signs to look out for in body language in relationships, 20 not so good/disastrous. Would you like to know what they are? Would you like the happy ever after?
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