Sometimes it can be hard to tell how a relationship is really going. Even if both partners are open about their feelings, doubt and miscommunication are always going to be there. But according to some of the world's leading relationship experts, there is one way to really know how your love life is going, and that's through sleep. When we're at our most vulnerable, unguarded, that's when our bodies really speak the truth. That's when our sleeping positions say more than we ever can...
How do you sleep with your partner?
It doesn't matter how long you've been together - all couples, even one-night stands, will slip into a position that's almost predestined. And after studying hundreds of couples, relationship experts believe they've cracked the code to what those positions really mean. Your body will automatically switch into its most relaxed state while sleeping, revealing a side to you that never comes out in real life.
All of these positions mean something. Even when it's hot or cold in the room, the body will naturally adapt to the most comfortable position for it. Even if you do start out in one position for temperature or other purposes, you'll eventually switch to the same thing, night after night. And this eventual position, no matter what it is, carries a deep sign about your relationship.
Classic Spooning Position
Although it's represented as pretty much the only sleeping position in Hollywood, actually spooning through the night is not that common. Only 18% of couples surveyed reported assuming the classic spooning position - just under one in five. It doesn't matter who's the big spoon and the little spoon - you'll be happy to know that it's a good sign.
If you just look at the way that spooning is done, you'll quickly realize that this is a position of protection. By holding their partner fully and tightly, one person is effectively shielding them from all of life's little battles. While this might seem unequal, the fact is - according to psychologist Corrine Sweet - that this is a healthy position for couples which shows trust in each other.
When you start off as a couple, physicality is key. The honeymoon period means you're all over each other, usually resulting in the close, or traditional, spooning position. But as the relationship grows longer, both people are going to want their own space and feel less grabby, leading to loose spooning. But is this a bad thing, that you're growing apart?
It shows that individually, both partners are secure and confident.
Not according to the experts. In fact, it indicates the opposite. Although your relationship is getting less physical and more reliable, the fact that you're taking up your own spaces in the bed means you still trust the other partner, but you also have a healthy independence and aren't "clingy". Welcome to maturity.
We all know the times that we wake up so tangled in the other person that it's almost like we've fused bodies. A big, tight mess of clothes and limbs and hot breath, love knots are pretty standard amongst young relationships and passionate lovers, who are still enraptured physically with the other person. But what happens if it keeps on going?
According to the experts, this could lead to future problems because these position increases dependability.
If you've just made love, it's not a problem. But if you wake up in the morning like this, it could spell trouble down the road. It means that you're both very dependent on each other, and need the other person to be truly happy. Again, that's fine at the beginning of the relationship, but down the line, one person is going to pull away and make it pretty painful.
Loosening the Knot
Luckily, the full-blown love knot is pretty uncommon in mature relationships. Many people will instead move into a looser version of the love knot, where there are still many points of contact but it's not as hot and heavy. Believe it or not, it's not a sign that the two of you are becoming distant - quite the opposite.
It shows that they are not insecure about their partner and are comfortable with each other.
The further you grow apart in the bed, say sleep psychologists, the more you grow closer together in the relationship. It seems like a paradox, but it's true. Strong and healthy relationships are based on trust and independence, not clinginess, with each of the two people having their own lives but making time and space for the other. That's why the loosened Love Knot is such a strong position.
Studies show that almost 27% of all couples actually favor the Facing Apart position in bed, making it one of the most common positions out there. In all of mass media and photos, facing apart means only one thing: that a couple has just had a fight, and no longer want to speak to each other. One person turns over with a huff and stares off into space. But how accurate is that portrayal?
This position is generally a good sign. It shows a mature, secure and trustworthy relationship.
Not accurate at all, psychologists say, unless you really have just had a massive argument. If you go to bed normally, though, and take up this position, it shows that you have complete faith in your partner and trust that the relationship is still there, even while figuratively and literally your back is turned. The couple is "connected and secure in themselves," says Sweet. "This position shows both closeness and independence in the relationship."
This one's very similar to Facing Apart, except the couple is so close together that their backs are touching. More common amongst relationships that have just begun, it's like a compromise between intimacy and independence. Some 25% of all couples surveyed favor this position while in bed with their partners.
This position indicates that the couple has made a compromise between intimacy and independence.
This is a position that divides many sleep and couples therapists. Many believe that this need to be touching displays a lack of trust and independence - that they have to be reminded that their partner exists. But Sweet disagrees, saying that "Both partners are relaxed and comfortable with one another." You might have to be the judge on this one - but don't worry, it doesn't mean your relationship is down the toilet.
Giving a Nuzzle
One partner is lying on their back, and the other is on their side with their head on their partner's shoulder. While it looks lovely, it can actually get quite uncomfortable after a while, meaning that it's the rarest out of all sleeping arrangements to get any long-term use. But if you do sleep like this, it's a good sign.
The position shows signs of rekindled love and passionate emotions.
Just looking at this position will tell you most of what you need to know. With their head on the partner's shoulder, one person is in the perfect position to whisper in the other's ear - a sign of deep intimacy and emotional connection, as well as openness. Also, the intertwining of the legs and head close to their heartbeat shows passion and lust, common in early relationships or those where the fire has been stoked once more.
Do you or your partner wake up in the middle of the night, fighting for space and the blanket? The, unfortunately, Space Hogging might be your relationship position. It's what happens when the body demands more space than it actually needs - and demands that the other person move right on over.
Taking up so much space
This is not a good sign, as you can imagine. Space Hogging is the body's unconscious way of saying that it doesn't care about what the partner wants - only what it wants. In a way, they're saying that they don't care whether their partner is in the bed or not. In fact, they'd prefer it if they weren't. Someone can be as sweet and kind in real life as they like. But if they're hogging space, it might be a sign that the relationship's on its way out.