More Than Words Can Say; Is a Kiss Just a Kiss? No, Say the Experts, as a New Series Explores the True Meaning of Body Language

Article excerpt


How can you tell if a marriage is made in heaven, if your partner's been unfaithful and who holds the upper hand in a relationship?

We would be shocked if we only knew what we were giving away through body language - what the experts call 'tells'. But, once you know the signs, answering such questions becomes second nature.

Former Oxford don and Big Brother psychologist Dr Peter Collett, who stars in Channel 4's gripping new documentary series, Body Talk, says happy couples in tune with each other's needs show signs of physical harmony, and will coordinate their movements. And a kiss is not just a kiss - it is full of revealing 'tells' about a relationship.

When Kate Winslet married first husband Jim Threapleton, they emerged from the church to pose for a kiss in front of photographers. But, as the actress prepared herself, Jim aimed for her lips then changed his mind and kissed her forehead. When Kate turned to give him a passionate kiss on the lips, Jim visibly recoiled at the force of it.

'When people feel the same way as each other, they synchronise their movements naturally,' explains Dr Collett. 'You see far more coordination between Kate and her second husband, Sam Mendes, as they time their kissing perfectly, making sure they're both ready at the same time.

When Kate and Jim came out of the church they were tugging in different directions as if they were dancing to different tunes. They were seldom focused on each other. It's no surprise their marriage lasted less than three years. When Liza Minnelli married her fourth husband, David Gest, it was easy for me to see that it wasn't going to last when I saw her stretch towards him for a kiss and she was met with a reluctant hug. It became obvious that they didn't want the same thing.

'Despite rumours about the Beckhams' marriage being in trouble, I feel their relationship isn't bad at all, although I was surprised to see David kiss Victoria on the nose when he received his OBE - that's a noncommittal kiss, one that indicates he wishes to keep his feelings about his relationship concealed.' Kissing can also give important clues to who is in control in a relationship. Holding someone's face while kissing them is a disguised way of controlling the other person, says Dr Collett. 'After Zoe Ball married DJ Norman Cook, the wedding "tells" rang a loud warning.

When they appeared for the photo shoot after the ceremony, Norman took the role of a bridesmaid, fussing over Zoe's dress.

Meanwhile, Zoe took control and, as she kissed Norman, she clasped his head in her hands. It was a sign of trouble ahead.' People in love have a strong need to be physically close and one way in which they do this is by holding hands with their palms tightly together. But when Michael Jackson was pictured with his then wife Lisa Marie Presley, an examination of their hands revealed a large gap between their palms, showing that neither desired closeness. Similarly, when arriving at a film premiere together, Nicole Kidman could be seen clasping her then husband Tom Cruise's hand with both of her own, but his hand was just hanging there limply.

'These small "tells" can be a predictor for long-term marriage success,' says Dr Collett.

'If you know how to read the signs then you can tell if a couple is destined to be together happily ever after. Successful couples are attentive to each other to show how much they care.' Contrary to what cynics believe, the marriage of Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex is a successful one. Dr Collett points out that the couple are, in fact, deeply in love, and this is clear from the way they gaze at each other.

'This was evident when they announced their engagement - they were constantly looking towards each other as they answered questions and gave each other supportive encouragement in their answers. Edward was always checking Sophie to make sure she was involved. …