Above is the picture we had posted on various social media channels on Friday to challenge our readers to test their observational skills. What was your answer?
Again, like before, it is important to stress that body language is always viewed in context. However, in general situations, the answer should be: 2,3,4,1
My reasons would as follows:
2: Notice the distance between the couple as they walk together. This itself is clue to how intimate they feel. They will not intrude personal space as far as possible. Some people replied that this is the most intimate posture since there is total hand to hand contact. When we are connected with our better half, we touch using full palms (palmar touch as descried by Navarro). This gesture is common in all the above pictures. When palmar touch is missing, things might not be rosy. Check the picture below:
The fairy tale couple that split up. Palmar touch is missing.
3: Hand in hand posture is one of the most common behaviours we see as couples start getting to know each other enough to touch for comfort, to allow the other to break personal space barrier. We walk like this, we sit like this, we talk like this. However, this is still just arm to arm contact.
4: Maximum bodily contact is seen in this picture, yet it is the second most intimate tie sign. We put our arm around the other person to signal to others that the person is taken. Males do this more often than females. Also, generally we would notice males putting their arms around the female’s shoulder while the female is more comfortable putting her arm around her mate’s waist. Reason could be height difference. Some people responded friends might sit like this. Again, though friends might put their arms around each other, this much bodily contact is highly uncommon.
1: Head to head touch is possible only when the couple really trusts one another. Our head is the one part of our body we instinctively protect. Our limbic brain would not allow anyone to come close when we don’t trust the person. This level of trust is possible only when the relationship moves beyond want of physical contact to something higher – a want to trust one another. To understand just how much we protect our foreheads, try touching your partner’s forehead when he is really upset. He will either move back or shrug your hand off. You also need to observe the direct eye to eye contact which is displayed here. Again, a behaviour that says “Look deep into my eyes, I have nothing to hide.” Generally eye gaze is considered a signal of dominance or aggression. Not so during courtship.
The next time you observe people and want to understand how body language works, try two things
- Think from that person’s point of view. If you were him, when would you do what you are seeing?
- Think of how close we allow anyone, and when? On which body part is touch acceptable, which part do we want to protect the most?
Body language is evolutionary; we still behave like our ape ancestors did. Our type of display might be sophisticated, but reasons are still primary in nature.
Hope you had a good time!