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How To Improve Nonverbal Communication In A Relationship

by Leigh Norén 7 months ago in relationships

What you're not saying is just as important

How To Improve Nonverbal Communication In A Relationship
Photo by Shot by Cerqueira on Unsplash

What you say in a relationship is important – but perhaps equally as important, is all the stuff you don’t say – yet impart with your body language. Nonverbal communication in a relationship has a profound effect on connection which is why this article will help you improve your nonverbal skills. That way you can create a better and more intimate relationship – the kind you’ve always wanted.

4 Different Types Of Nonverbal Communication In A Relationship

There are lots of kinds of nonverbal communication. They include, but aren’t limited to: touch and body language. A few ways to improve these ways of communicating are as follows:

Consciously use touch

Expressing love in a relationship can be done in many ways. Sometimes we tell each other explicitly how much we love one another. Other times, how we feel is communicated through touch – or lack of it.

If your partner rarely touches you or you only ever give your significant other a half-hearted hug, this could indicate a lack of connection. However, you could also just as easily have forgotten how important these moments of touch are.

It’s easy to fall out of a good habit – so make a conscious effort to use touch to communicate to your partner what they mean to you. This can include things like touching your partner briefly as you pass them in your home, or giving them a proper hug and kiss hello.

Another way of consciously using touch is by making an effort to find time for sex. Sex can be a great way of connecting and boosting your relationship and shared intimacy.

As a clinical sexologist, I work with a lot of individuals and couples who have stopped having sex for various reasons. A lot of times it has to do with low libido in one or both parties. If this is you, know you’re not alone and that there are lots of things you can do to get your sex drive back.

Open up

Closed off body language can speak volumes – to our partner and to ourselves.

One common way of closing off our body is by crossing our chest with our arms – sometimes we do it because we’re cold, but other times it’s actually a way of protecting ourselves or showing our dismay.

While it may not be a conscious move, it’s an effective way of shutting people out as it communicates that we don’t want to engage.

When your partner notices you crossing your chest with your arms, it’s telling them you won’t let them in – so they can’t get in.

Instead, try letting your arms rest side by side or in your lap, and see what happens in your communication with your partner. You’ll likely find you feel less defensive and more open as your body language not only communicates how you’re feeling to your partner, but communicates how you feel to yourself too.

In fact, this is one of the reasons why we can reduce anxiety by moving our bodies or adjusting how we breathe through breathing exercises. By changing our physiology we can affect how we feel mentally.

Turn towards your partner

It’s easy to become unaware of nonverbal communication in a relationship – especially when you’re in the middle of something: like watching a dramatic scene on tv or reading an exciting novel in bed. As your partner inches closer to you on the sofa – you just don’t notice them at all and almost turn away from them by habit: you’re concentrating.

Just as crossing your arms in front of your chest isn’t always a conscious act – turning away from your partner communicates defensiveness – whether you’ve actively chosen to do it or not.

Your partner might take this as a sign of disinterest; like you don’t care what they have to say or just be left alone. And let’s be honest, sometimes it’s nice to be alone. But if you regularly turn away from your partner, it might start to affect your connection.

Next time, try turning towards your partner when they creep down next to you in bed. This shows them you care and you’re invested – and this can really boost intimacy and trust.

Move from multitasking to monotasking:

Life is stressful – it seems there are endless amounts of cooking, cleaning and emails to answer – and getting through it in time, often entails multitasking.

The thing is – when we multitask we stop being present in the moment.

Even if laundry isn’t a task worth experiencing mindfully, this multitasking habit can easily creep into your relationship.

If you’re constantly doing something else while your partner is trying to talk to you, you risk losing vital moments of connection but also, of empathy. By allowing your partner to see your face they can pick up on non-verbal cues of empathy or understanding. And this goes both ways!

By looking at their face you can also gauge what they’re actually saying. Sometimes, our words aren’t enough to convey what we really mean. Instead, we say one thing with our mouths and another with our facial expressions or our body language.

Try making an effort to monotask next time your partner is saying something. Make a point of looking at them, and seeing them, not just for their words but for what their body and face is telling you. Are they upset, frustrated, happy or ashamed? What do they need in this moment?

Nonverbal communication is the way to go

When we talk about communication we often focus on the verbal kind. While working on verbal communication is certainly important, nonverbal communication in a relationship can also be paramount.

This is why sometimes, improving your relationship can be as easy as changing your body language. By focusing on opening up, turning towards your partner, consciously monotasking, and using touch – you can boost your connection in an instant!


Leigh Norén is a sex therapist with a Master of Science in Sexology. She helps people reduce stress, shame, & anxiety surrounding sex-so they can get their sex drive back and enjoy their partner again. If you want to learn more about communicating in a relationship, download her free resource, The Guide for Intimacy.

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Leigh Norén

Sex therapist with a Master of Science in Sexology. Offers free online resources for a better sex life and relationship, sex therapy, and online courses.

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