Decoding Where Your Relationship Stands By Hannah Byrne

Article: The Difference in Nonverbal Communication and How It Changes In Different Stages of A Relationship

Trying to figure out what stage of a relationship you are in can often times be extremely tricky. Not only does the way we communicate nonverbally change as a relationship grows and develops, but there are also differences in the way touch is perceived by men and women. The five different stages are: casual dating, exclusively dating, long term relationship, cohabitation while in a long term relationship and marriage. Although the stages are quite different from each other, there can be some blurred lines when you are trying to figure out where you and your significant other fall. Sometimes words make things even more complicated, but if that is the case try to decode where your relationship stands based on body language. Body language and nonverbal communication can essentially be more important that actual words when it comes to a relationship. Anyone can say something they do not mean, but the show or touch in a way they do not mean is a lot more difficult.Tracy Prinsen and Narissra M. Punyanunt-Carter had 145 different college students from all different levels and backgrounds take a survey about nonverbal communication and relationships.

The questionnaire not only focused on the different stages of a relationship, but it also focused heavily on gender differences as well. Out of the 145 students, 69 were men and 76 were women. The overall results were that not only is there a vast difference in nonverbal communication between the different stages of a relationship, but there is also a vast difference in nonverbal communication between men and women. Women tend to rate items concerning nonverbal communication higher, while men tend to find nonverbal communication more important.  Most men stated that they needed non verbal communication to grow and increase in order for the relationship to work.

The study also showed that married couples found a greater importance for nonverbal communication than casually dating couples. Casually dating couples do not feel that nonverbal communication has a big impact on their relationship as a whole. As the relationship progresses and moves through the different stages the importance of nonverbal communication for both partners also increases. Couple-Arguing-crop

One of the things I found most interesting in this study that also confirmed what has been learned through the textbook and lectures, is that nonverbal communication in a romantic relationship is in fact very important. Not only is it important to display nonverbal communication, but it is important how we perceive the nonverbal communication of others. The reasons men and women touch each other are completely different, and the power of a facial expression can be very telling. Unhappy couples tend to display more negative facial expressions than happy couples, wether intentionally or unintentionally.

The last and final thing that I found very interesting and important is the power of listening, not just hearing, but responsive listening. Couples that  improperly decode voice tone and facial expressions tend felt more depressed and that their relationship was not as good as others. Decoding skills between romantic partners is extremely important for a successful happy relationship. Wether decoding verbal communication, facial expressions or any other forms of non verbal communication, when in a relationship all three areas should be growing and progressing in order for the relationship to be maintain and to grow and progress as well


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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