Prof’s Nonverbal Observation: Romance I recently spent an hour in a coffee shop looking out for two people on which to carry out a nonverbal observation. I brought a book and held it in front of me while looking over the edge, to help eliminate the chance that someone would observe me observing the, and spoil the results. The couple I observed were a man and a woman, both of whom appeared to be in their mid thirties. It was the middle of the afternoon on a weekend, a time when the coffee shop was quite busy, and I hoped that I would be able to blend into the crowd, as it were.
Their body positions and nonverbal communication cues were very informative. It became apparent almost immediately that this couple were in a romantic relationship, and somewhere after the earliest stages of it but still in an early period. Their body language suggested a great deal of closeness – rather than sitting directly opposite each other, as most people do when conversing over coffee, they sat at ninety degree angles from each other around a small circular table. This led to them being constantly in what people normally consider their personal space, and their legs and arms brushed and touched against each other frequently. One of the most telling cues of their relationship status was eye contact – despite sitting very close to each other, to the degree that looking directly at one another would be somewhat uncomfortable, they both did so for long periods of time, straining their necks to make eye contact. People who are not romantically involved are often very uncomfortable with continual eye contact of this sort, so this implies they were in a romantic relationship, and people who had been in a romantic relationship for a long time might make less of an effort to make eye contact constantly, being more comfortable and less needy than those who are in the earlier stages of them.
They also displayed an interesting communication dynamic in terms of who dominated the conversation. It was apparent that the man did most of the talking, and often accompanied his speeches with large arm gestures, movements and so on. This would seem to imply that he was the dominant of the pair, but on closer inspection I think he was performing for his partner, as she would often laugh at what he was doing. I believe this implies that he was trying to impress her by telling her humorous stories, and performing for her.