A power dynamic is how power exists in a relationship. Does one partner have more power than the other? Does one have all the power? Or do they share power? Power dynamics shape love. They either allow a place for it to grow and develop or they choke it. The power dynamic that is the healthiest and aids relationships is when both partners share in the power equally. You can see a power dynamic at work by examining who interrupts the other, who talks over the other, who makes final decisions, who punishes, who generally wins fights and so on. Men and women utilize and respond to verbal and nonverbal cues in different ways.
Of course either sex can be domineering in a relationship. However, men are the ones who traditionally dominate heterosexual relationships. Men control women either consciously or subconsciously using certain verbal and nonverbal cues. For instance, personal space tends to be different in each sex. Men have a bubble of personal space around them. Others penetrate this to cause discomfort, get closer or create arousal. Women have smaller personal space bubbles. And men tend to invade a woman’s personal space more often in the hope of persuading or controlling her.
In terms of posture, men tend to use more open, expansive forms. Therefore they need more space. This taking up of space is deciphered as dominance. Women are more constricted because they tend to take up less space. If you notice how men and women cross their legs, it displays clearly this phenomenon. Men tend to cross their legs with one ankle on top of their knee or thigh, taking up lots of space. Women however cross their legs at the knee taking up far less space. Expansive positions communicate dominance. Constricted positions tell of submission. The latest research shows that incorporating more expansive body language increases one’s confidence and self-esteem. If you notice the mode of dress, a man’s dress portrays power, a woman’s submissiveness. Women have to cross their legs in skirts, ergo communicating submissiveness outright. Women also carry things in a handbag or purse, which also communicates submission while men carry things in their pockets.
Touch is another way men subconsciously dominate women. Research shows that men who aren’t romantically involved touch women more often as a way of dominating them. This is true of dominant personalities too. They tend to touch in order to dominate; someone that puts their hand on your arm to make sure you are paying attention to their point, for example. Men who care about taking part in a blissful, well-adjusted long term relationship should be aware of what nonverbal cues they are sending their female counterparts, and make sure not to dominate, but to allow her an equal share of the power. To learn more about dominance in relationships read, Intimacy and Power: The Dynamics of Personal Relationships in Modern Society by Derek Layder.