Introduction to Nonverbal Cues—Learn to Identify, Interpret, and Address Body Language Indicators That Suggest Your Romantic Relationship May be in Trouble Before Communication Further Deteriorates and Significant Problems Escalate

Why What’s Not Being Said Matters

Being in a relationship is no easy feat. It is beautiful, but challenging. It may be your source of peace, but it will definitely test your resolve more times than not. This is the case in just about every relationship, although some may pose more challenges than others. And before we get too far in this article, yes—we are referring to romantic relationships.

We want to feel secure, appreciated, and accepted in our relationships with our partners. We want them to tell us and show us how much we mean to them every single day. We want them to feel absolutely free when around us, and we want to be seen as the person with whom they feel comfortable sharing absolutely everything, both positive and negative. We particularly do not want them to hide things that bother them, especially when those issues are related to the relationship. This is all natural and happens to couples in even the most stable relationships.


However, it may sometimes be difficult for your partner to open up to you, even on issues that may affect your relationship and its continuity. Humans mostly communicate with words as long as they are able to, and communication is arguably the most important aspect of a romantic relationship. It simply cuts across every other aspect. There must be sufficient communication between both partners in making any decision that affects the relationship – or just about any decision, since an individual decision is still very likely to affect the relationship. Communication is so invaluable in a relationship that it is the best way to prevent problems, as well as the only way to solve them. In a nutshell it is important for partners to communicate with each other in their most preferred manner – which should be verbal, all things considered.

But somehow, communication is never that simple. When a person fails to communicate properly with their partner it may naturally lead to problems. Consequently, the partner may then choose not to communicate verbally to their significant other when the problem arises, even when it affects their relationship. This may be due to frustration – which it most likely is – or a simple lack of interest in addressing the issue at that particular time.

If you suspect a slight issue in your relationship with your partner, without being entirely sure, here are some nonverbal or body language cues you should look out for, to tell you that there is indeed a looming problem.


This is pretty obvious, if you can determine that the smile is fake. Unless as a joke or a subtle shade in the moment against their partner, no one should have to fake enthusiasm in a happy relationship. In fact, you find your partner smiling for no reason when the relationship is thriving. They simply look at you sometimes and appreciate your existence in their life, which is something to smile about. Logically when the opposite happens, especially when it becomes consistent, you should start to take steps in finding out what the issue is and figuring out ways to address it with your partner.


It will be safe to assume that we are all familiar with this nonverbal cue all too well because it happens in non-romantic relationships as well. When a person sighs up to three times in a minute, there is most likely something troubling the person’s mind. Similarly, when your partner sighs constantly, especially around you, it most likely translates to two connected facts. First, there is definitely a problem. Secondly, they want you to notice that there is a problem without directly telling you that there is one, not to mention revealing what the problem is. When you notice this trait, it is advisable to take the cue and act as soon as possible to dissolve whatever the hidden issue may be.


In a relationship, when all is well and good, emotional closeness is often reflected by physical closeness. The couple spends more time being physically close with each other, as a way reaffirming and strengthening what they feel for each other emotionally. This is very likely to pause when there is a problem and is in fact a non-verbal cue to look out for in your spouse or partner. Leaning away is a nonverbal cue used in a relationship for different types of problems. Your partner may simply lean away temporarily to send a subtle message to you and force an apology out of you. On the other hand, leaning away may not be temporary, which will then require more than a simple apology to fix the situation at hand.


Giving pats on the back is a gesture that originally sends a message of approval and comfort but not usually to your romantic partner. Unless done intentionally to make a joke or send a message, you really do not want your partner patting you on the back. Your level of concern should immediately increase when it happens more than once or twice within a short period. Patting is done between coaches and teammates or between friends and colleagues. When your partner tries to pat you on the back in place of a hug, the moment is automatically desexualized. You simply do not want this to continue as long as you still want your relationship.


Finally, when you get the common “I am tired” line more constantly than usual, there may be a problem with your relationship, which may or may not have been caused by your performance in the bedroom. It may simply be a way of protesting against an offense you have committed earlier or a much bigger issue. If it is the latter, then your partner is most likely unhappy and will avoid your embraces in general. Sexual activities between partners often reflect the state of the relationship. It is an activity that usually requires a certain level of connection to be enjoyed between romantic partners. When other aspects of the relationship are shaky, the sexual life of the couple is likely to be affected and vice versa. Ultimately, the important thing is always to figure out the problem, ensure that it is addressed, and most preferably solved.

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