Even in the age of communication, there is one language which many still struggle to translate – and that’s body language. The bread and butter of our daily comms, body language indirectly tells others what we are thinking, and what we think of them, without uttering a single word. It’s quite the magic trick.
But how are you coming across when you’re doing simple things, like sitting on a sofa? Could your desire to sit far away be about more than just ‘better lighting’? And is your position as your partner’s footrest a sign of subordination?
We spoke to Adrianne Carter, an expert in faces, emotions and body language for all the answers.
Scenario 1: Lone snuggler
Even alone, your sitting position can speak volumes. “Those who love to reign over the seating arrangements are known as The King/Queen of the sofa,” says Adrianne. “This person is most at peace in a dominant position. Perhaps they claim the most optimal position in front of the television or constantly opt for a central position; this is a person who is unflinching in their comfort requirements.
Scenario 2: A shared space
For some, sofas are for spreading out and enjoying solo comfort. For others, it’s all about closeness. As Adrianne explains, this is the We want to be together position. “By taking the seat closest to their partner, this person shows their desire to strengthen their relationship through actions – like sharing furniture.” In other words, the fire burns bright for these two, even if they don’t say it in words.
Scenario 3: The “kick back” couple
Left with feet on your lap during Netflix binges? If that sounds like you, you’re The Supporter. According to Adrianne, this is a subordinate position where you are “essentially giving your partner the dominant position in terms of comfort.” Those with their feet up, on the other hand, are typically the ones who wear the trousers in the relationship.
Scenario 4: Personal space pairing
For those who are happy together, but comfortable with each other’s individuality, there’s The Respectful position. “Sitting in an armchair next to your partner shows a respect for the other person’s personal space,” Adrianne notes. These couples want to be close to each other but don’t feel the need to sit on each other’s lap.
On the other hand, those who are spread across the sofa are usually more headstrong than their partners; these are The Independents and they usually make all the important decisions in the relationship – like what to watch on TV.
Scenario 5: Make room for the relatives
It can sometimes be a little awkward to show intimacy when your other half’s parents are on the scene – especially if they’re not overly lovey-dovey themselves.
“This is The Disconnected position,” says Adrianne. “By sitting at a distance, you are purposely withholding displays of affection for the benefit of the parents.” For the in-laws, this can be seen as a sign of courtesy – and it could earn you a couple of brownie points. However, partners could misinterpret your behaviour as a sign you’re unhappy with them.
Scenario 6: We’re a team
For the ones who enjoy displaying intimacy, there is the Keep me close position. “Comfortable in their own skin, these people want to be near their partners and family at all times,” Adrianne explains. Rather than distancing themselves with peripheral armchairs or stools, these people jump right into the thick of the family fun – even if it does mean perching awkwardly on an armrest.
Scenario 7: Keeping it in the family
“Sitting on a rug is The Child because you are putting yourself lower than others in the room,” says Adrianne. Instead of clamouring for an occasional chair or squeezing between Aunt Catherine and Granny Jean, you’re happiest with plenty of space to call your own. And if this means resigning yourself to a more child-like position? You’re humble enough to play along.
Scenario 8: Standing out
No space for you? Well, it’s time to make yourself useful! “You take the host/hostess role to ensure you’re not hanging around the edges. Plus, it puts you in the middle of the gathering without awkwardly scrambling for a stump,” says Adrianne. She calls this the Winner, Winner for its two-pronged benefit: others stay comfortable, and you’re happier for making it happen. Double win!