Can't Stand on One Leg and Tell Your Partner You Love Him? Watch Out

Stand on one leg while telling your partner why you love him.


Your relationship may be in trouble.

According to Gretchen Reynolds of The New York Times, your stance may test your marriage.

Say what?

A new study has shown that how much stability you have on your feet may tell oodles about where your relationship is going. 

Balancing on one leg may test the stability not just of your body but also of your marriage or other intimate relationships, according to a remarkable new study of how bodily posture may affect emotional thinking.

I took an aerobics class a while ago that had one movement where you pulled one leg up behind your back and held it with the other arm.  For weeks I couldn't do it, and then, one day, I could.  I remember the feeling of being shocked that I couldn't do it.  And come to think of it, my marriage wasn't in such great shape in those days.

 I'm not sure I totally buy it but supposedly how much balance you have while standing on one leg can translate somehow into your marriage or relationship.  

Our minds and bodies connect in weird ways.  Reynolds explains that past studies have shown, for instance, that people who hold a warm cup of coffee tend to consider strangers as likely to be more friendly and “warm” than do people who hold a cup of iced coffee.

And we all know how often wellness (or unwellness) in our bodies is allied with our heads.  But back to balance.

Because that's what we're talking about here, how instability in our bodies can sometimes mean instability in our relationships with the significant people in our lives.

Reynolds notes that few researchers had closely examined how "embodied cognition" (the blending of emotional and bodily feelings)  might be entwined in our romantic relationships, but now that they are, this unusual finding has them shaking their heads.

To see how stability plays out among couples, researchers first recruited a small group of college students who reported being involved in a committed relationship that had lasted for at least a year, according to Reynolds.

The researchers then randomly assigned half of their volunteers to sit at a normal desk and the other half to sit at workstations that had been subtly altered so that both the chair and the desk wiggled slightly.

The volunteers all completed questionnaires about their lives and romantic relationships, including how satisfied they felt with their partner and whether they felt the relationship would last. (Only one member of a couple was part of the study, to encourage honesty.)

Afterward, the researchers found a strong correlation between wobbly work spaces and wobbly romantic pairings. The students who had been seated at the unstable workstations were much more likely to perceive instability in their love lives than were the students whose chairs and work spaces didn’t waver.

Then  the researchers used an online portal to recruit a much larger and more diverse group of volunteers, including older people, some of whom had been married for years. All said that they were part of an established, monogamous couple.

The researchers asked all of these volunteers to position themselves in front of a computer screen.
Then they asked half of the volunteers to stand on one leg, while the rest remained solidly positioned on both feet.  While holding the assigned posture, volunteers completed questionnaires about themselves and their romantic relationship, just as the students had done.

But now the researchers also had the volunteers, while still poised on one or both feet, compose a short note to their loved one, describing how the volunteer felt about his or her partner at that moment.

 Overwhelmingly, those volunteers who wobbled on one leg rated their relationships as more unstable and less likely to last than did the people who stood on both feet.

Does this mean if you're unsteady on your feet, your relationship is doomed?  Scientists say no.  It's just likely that, when people feel physically unstable, they are more likely to perceive their romantic relationship as similarly turbulent.

 As an experiment, I tried to see if I could do the leg behind the back thing again and tell my husband that I loved him.  He asked me to wait till after Bill O'Reilly.


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