What Relationship Stage Are You In? The Difference In Nonverbal Behavior By The Stage Of Your Relationship. By Hannah Tichacek

Scholarly, Peer Reviewed Journal Article: The Difference in Nonverbal Behaviors and How It Changes In Different Stages of A Relationship

Author: Hannah Tichacek

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If you’re unaware of what stage your relationship is in, you may be able to label it depending on the way you communicate. In the study The Difference in Nonverbal Behaviors and How It Changes In Different Stages of A Relationship, by Tracy Prinsen and Narissra M. Punyanunt-Carter, college students completed a questionnaire, short answer portion and survey inquiring three relationship topics based on extensive research. They focused on five main relationship stages – casual dating, exclusively dating, long-term relationship, cohabitation while in a long-term relationship and marriage. In the study, they focused on the difference in communication through it’s stages instead of the differences between genders, what they thought most research had already covered.

145 students, enrolled in a basic communications class in a Southwestern university were used for the study including 69 men and 76 women between the ages of 18-37, using a Likert scale and the Cronbach’s alpha reliability was never below .70, a very successful number.

The study’s research questions were on the sex differences among the responses on the questionnaire, the different types of relationships among the responses of the questionnaire and the differences among relationship types and the affectionate communication index. The results indicated an immense difference in nonverbal communication between gender and the different relationship stages. It was found that the nonverbal, verbal and supportive affection varies between relationship stages and women rated nonverbal communication higher than men but men rated the importance of nonverbal behavior more important in a relationship than women. This study can help our relationships understand what a partner needs from you in the ways of nonverbal communication and will overall benefit us by helping us to realize what we need to work on for a relationship, no matter its stage, to continue to work and grow.


From what I have learned so far in nonverbal communication, I made many different comparisons and contrasts throughout the reading of this study. We learned in chapter 3’s module that one way men and women are attracted to each other is almost a human instinct. Through research, attraction has been proven through smells, I thought this study was so interesting, but now after reading this case study, seems like this study may be one of the smallest factors that go into finding a mate. There are so many other things that men and women hold accountable for the other sex to follow through with, this study being the way they communicate to keep a relationship strong, steady, and moving on to the next stage. So, no matter how much a person’s scent may appeal to you, if they cannot continuously communicate with you, nonverbally, affectionately, face to face, and all the other forms, a relationship will simply not work. More recently in chapter 6, we learned about Tie Signs and the reasons behind the way men and women touch in public. Women tend to touch for affection, men touch for presenting the relationship and both men and women wrongly perceive why their partner would do this. In this study, females are statistically the one’s who are more openly affectionate, saying I love you, kissing on the lips, acknowledging birthdays, voicing how important he is, women are the ones who do these things because they want to and to show love and affection. I think this agreed with the study of touch in chapter 6 because men do it to show dominance and women do it because it’s what they want to do.

Overall, this case study was very interesting and taught me a lot more because I was able to apply it to what I have already learned. Nonverbal communication can affect so many different factors of a relationship, and changes the longer you are with the same person, even if you’ve been married for 50 years. Communication is always developing and changing; so always pay attention to your partner.





Tracy Prinson, Narissra M. Punyanunt-Carter. (2009). The difference in nonverbal behaviors and how it changes in different stages of a relationship. 34(1), 1-7.

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