Body language can reveal many truths about relationships – but only if you know how to read it. In Celebrity Couples: Decoded, an expert interprets A-listers' interactions to shed light on their IRL dynamic.
Justin Timberlake, 37, and Jessica Biel, 35, began dating in 2007, got married in 2012, and welcomed their first son, Silas, in April 2015. Last week, Justin released a new album, Man of the Woods, in which his wife makes a cameo: With locked eyes, the couple twirls about a rustic dance floor:
Of course, music videos are staged. Here's what the famously cuddly couple's real PDA actually means, according to North Carolina-based body-language expert Blanca Cobb.
1. Jessica and Justin hang in the stands.
Here, Jessica and Justin's bodies overlap like they are one, and Justin positions himself behind his then-girlfriend, which suggests he supports her emotionally. Although Jessica crosses her legs away from Justin, it's a position that permits her to get closer to him despite his toes and right knee pointing toward her. "Feet point in the direction of where you want to go, so it's a silent indication he's into her," Cobb says.
Note the way Jessica drapes her left hand on the inside of Justin's right thigh. "It's an intimate pleasure zone," Cobb says. "But you can tell from the way he's relaxed, with his right hand casually draped over her shoulder, that he's loving it – people who are in love often welcome touch regardless of who's around."
Jessica also loops her left fingers around Justin's left thumb. "It's another way of saying, 'We're an extension of one another,' " Cobb says. "They maintain their connection through touch."
2. The couple takes an incognito stroll.
"When two people lead with the same leg while walking, it means they're emotionally in sync," Cobb says.
The couple's clasp is even more telling: Compared to lovebirds who hold hands loosely, Jessica and Justin interlock their fingers, which provides more surface area to touch. Because touch is one way to express and receive love – particularly for this hands-on pair, Cobb says – it gives you an inside look at what's going on with them emotionally. Justin's hand is also on top of Jessica's. "It can mean he's more in charge of the relationship, the primary decision maker – but not in a bad way. It can also be protective," Cobb says.
3. Jessica and Justin embrace in a courtside kiss.
Although Justin makes the effort by turning his chest in Jessica's direction, her left leg is crossed toward him, her left foot is relaxed (not flexed), and she holds the back of Justin's head. "She's into the moment, embracing it and allowing it to happen," Cobb says, who can really feel the energy in this photo. "It's like, the hell with whoever is looking! It's all about passion – when you feel it, you show it."
4. Justin rests his hand in Jessica's lap.
"When you allow someone to touch your leg, particularly the inside of the thigh, it signifies familiarity and intimacy," Cobb says of Justin's hand in Jessica's lap. Notice how she envelops Justin's forearm with her hands. "She's letting world know, 'He's mine!' " Cobb adds.
5. Justin holds Jessica by the waist and arm.
Justin stands behind Jessica with one hand on her waist and the other on her inner elbow as a show of support: "Holding with two hands rather than one is grounding – a way to make her feel secure and safe," Cobb says. "It also sends a message to the world, 'This is my woman.' "
Although Jessica holds a clutch in her left hand, she maintains contact with her husband by cradling his right fingers in her free hand. "It lets him know she appreciates his touch without her having to twist or contort," Cobb says.
6. Justin and Jessica interlock fingers in the stands.
With Justin's and Jessica's feet similarly staggered and hips swaying in unison, their lower bodies are totally in sync, says Cobb. What's more, she adds, Jessica allows Justin to touch her stomach – a sensitive part of the body due to the organs there – which shows a level of comfort and love, particularly since she interlocks her fingers around his, further confirming she's enjoying his touch.
7. Jessica and Justin part ways on the red carpet.
Although Jessica appears to be leading the way, with her hand uncharacteristically on top of Justin's, their legs remain in sync, suggesting this out-of-the-ordinary grip is just an issue of body positioning.
Although they stand apart from one another, gazing in different directions, they didn't have to hold hands at this moment, Cobb points out. "That they're still connected through touch, despite doing their own things, speaks to how they feel about each other – after more than a decade together, they still have a strong connection," she says.
8. The couple shares a hands-off kiss.
Cobb's overall assessment of this particular embrace: "#CoupleGoals!" she says. "Even though they're not holding hands, this kind of physical closeness, with Jessica's shoulder against Justin's chest, and no air between each others' bodies, shows they're both really into each other. Although a kiss on the cheek might have been more subtle in this environment, kissing on the lips with eyes closed is an intimate expression of love and genuinely enjoying each other."
9. Jessica grasps Justin's hand.Here, Jessica grabs Justin's hands with tension in the fingers as if she's leaning on her husband for physical stability – but also for emotional support. "Among lots of people and cameras and paparazzi, he grounds her," Cobb says of the couples' hand positioning. "He's letting her know silently, ‘I've got you honey – I'm here for all your needs.' "
10. Jessica leans into Justin.
The way Jessica leans into Justin in this photo suggests a level of trust, according to Cobb. "When you put your weight on someone, and they support you, it's like they're saying, literally and figuratively, 'I've got your back.' " The couples' hands are also telling: "We connect to people we love through touch," Cobb says of the way Jessica reaches up to touch Justin's hand. "She's keeping it close to her heart."
Overall, Cobb says it's clear the couple is enjoying each other in the moment: "The natural curvature of their fingers confirms there's no stress."
The Bottom Line:
"Touch is a part of how this couple expresses love," Cobb says. "They constantly engage with each other intentionally – nothing about their interactions suggests they're just going through the motions."
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