Are You Missing Your Partner's Body Language?

Posted by Norene Gonsiewski, LCSW on January 31, 2020 at 10:54 AM
Norene Gonsiewski, LCSW
Find me on:

2 minute read

Are You Missing your Partners Body Language - Imago Relationships North America

Did you know that only 7% of our communication is verbal? 

In fact, 93% of communication is nonverbal, which includes our tone of voice and our body language.  

So, even though your partner is not verbally saying something to you, they may be thinking or feeling something that they’re actually communicating through body language. 

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis looked deeper into this idea.

How does a partner interpret another partner’s cues?

What cues are given that partners should be able to spot?

How can you gain the skills in order to understand your partner’s cues of non-verbal language better? 

The short answer… Even long-term couples have trouble understanding and “measuring”  their partner’s emotional cues. So if you’re confused about what you should be looking for, trust that you are definitely not alone. 

The study at Washington University focused on two types of emotional cues.

  • Suppression - hiding emotions.

  • Reappraisal - changing a perspective in order to look on the “bright side.

The truth is that both of these cues have their drawbacks.  Neither allows a person to fully feel and realize their feelings toward a situation.

While both of these cues are used by men and women, in general, men use suppression techniques more frequently than women. So, when it comes to judging these techniques, things can get a little tricky.

For example, women frequently overestimate their partner’s ability to look on the bright side. Partners who are more positive are more likely to be accused of reappraisal. And, more emotional partners are less likely to be accused of either reappraisal or suppression, leaving partners more clueless about when they are hiding or covering up their true feelings.

What’s interesting is that researchers also found that it is harder for a partner to judge reappraisal than suppression. If you know something is bothering your partner but they won’t let it show, you’re more likely to see their true emotions than if they are playing off the situation and looking for the positive.

So, when you are talking with your partner about their emotions, these findings are important to keep in mind. 

We suggest these two important items here:

  • Don’t Assume

  • Be Curious

If your partner is normally happy, don’t assume they have the ability to move past struggles with ease, but also don’t assume that they are “hiding” their feelings behind optimism. There are very fine lines between expressing your true emotions and hiding them in order to appease another person.

It's understandable if you miss something that your partner is trying to communicate. After all, nonverbal communication is not a part of our school curriculum. However, hope is not lost.  

Through experience and understanding, you can develop your ability to spot and interpret the emotional cues that your partner is sending you through their nonverbal communication.  

If you’d like to learn more about building these skills and communicating more effectively with your partner, we highly recommend an Imago Relationship workshops or therapy 

These workshops and retreats can truly transform couples in all stages of their relationship.  So, check out one in your area today!  If you can’t locate one close to home, consider a couple’s getaway -  a little Couple’s Retreat to connect deeper with your partner.  

Discover more about Imago with our Imago Professional Membership, Imago Professional Facilitators and Imago Professional Training.


Connect. Transform. Thrive.

NG-headshot2This blog post was written by Norene Gonsiewski, LCSW.

Norene has been a Relationship Coach, Counselor, Author and Educator since 1980. She offers the tools to eliminate conflict, create a vision of a passionate marriage, and overcome the obstacles to success. She has helped thousands of couples fix failing relationships and restore the love and passion in their lives.

Norene has co-authored two books, Rock Solid Relationship: Seven Keys to Restore Your Connection and Make Your Love Last with her colleague Tim Higdon, and It’s Your Mind: Own It! A Manual for Every Teen with Nicole Jon Sievers. 

Check out her website too! 

Topics: Happy Relationships, Healthy Communication, Imago Relationships, Emotional Connection, Online Couples Workshop, Couples Retreat

About the blog

The Imago Relationships Blog features content from our team of professional therapists, workshop presenters and facilitators who are passionate about helping you discover a new way to communicate and love your life.

Subscribe to Imago Relationship Blog

Explore by most recent:

Learn more about...

See all