When you get engaged, the last person you’d expect to see is your ex. But for Joe Amabile, who gave Serena Pitt a Neil Lane diamond ring during the season finale of Bachelor In Paradise on Tuesday, Oct. 5, his ex Kendall Long is exactly who appeared on the beach. Understandably given the high stakes and surprise guest, body language expert Patti Wood tells Elite Daily that Pitt and Amabile’s nonverbal cues throughout the segment communicated a mix of tension and delight.
Upon analyzing images from the episode, Wood, author of SNAP: Making The Most Of First Impressions, Body Language, And Charisma, says that at many times throughout the proposal, the couple conveyed a subtle defensiveness with their postures and hand placements. But Wood says Amabile, though clearly shook, still appeared present and happy — a good sign considering all of his messy history with ex Long.
Before Pitt (who appeared on Season 25 of The Bachelor in early 2021) stepped onto the scene, Amabile met Long on Season 5 of BIP in 2018, and the pair instantly became a fan-fave. They dated on and off for roughly two years, ending their relationship in January 2020. But when Long appeared on Tuesday’s finale, she alluded to still harboring feelings for Amabile, though she offered her blessing when it came time for the actual proposal. Amabile, for his part, appeared physically shaken up by her surprise appearance but not emotionally; his body language made it clear that, while he was somewhat on edge, he remains as devoted as ever to his future wife, Pitt.
Below, Wood breaks down Pitt and Amabile’s proposal body language, revealing the chaotic-but-adoring energy between them as they opened their hearts — and the rest of their lives — to one another.
Pitt And Amabile Start Out On The Defensive
According to Wood, both Pitt and Amabile are employing some defensive body language here, but it’s subtle. Specifically, Wood is looking at Pitt’s slightly raised shoulders (“to protect her vulnerable neck”) and her hand gesture, what Wood calls a “log cabin.” The log cabin “creates a wall of protection over her midsection,” Wood says. “She’s got conflicted feelings. She’s not leaning towards him or leaning away, she’s feeling a need to protect her midsection, to protect her vulnerability.” As for Amabile, Wood says he’s clearly protecting something else. “He’s got his hands over his ‘man parts.’ He’s not scared, it’s not fear, it’s just a desire to protect his masculinity and his heart.”
The presence of Amabile’s ex no-doubt contributed to the discomfort in both Amabile and Pitt. But Wood says all was not lost. “I love [Pitt’s] head tilt,” she says. “She also has a full, lifting smile that lifts up the cheeks and forehead and shows warmth and affection towards him.”
“It’s All About The Ring”
Wood took note of how posed some of the couple’s moments appeared to be, saying she wishes there was some more spontaneity between them. “If you look at [Pitt’s] arm on the right side, it’s down and the fingers are down, and that’s because she’s posing for the camera,” Wood says. “If she were feeling more spontaneous, there’d be more reaching.” Wood also noted the tension in Pitt’s fingers and the zeroed-in focus on the ring. “In this photo, it’s all about the ring” and not the human connection, Wood says, implying that they were likely playing to the camera in this moment. “His posture is like a prince in a fairytale, he’s got a lot of sharp angles, he’s not relaxed. It’s more performance.”
Their Love Is Intense But Playful
Wood’s favorite thing about this flirty image from before their proposal is how playful it makes them both look. “She’s got her hands behind her back like a little girl saying, ‘what do you think of my dress?’ She’s got the flirty look to the side at him and he’s got his lips pressed tight and back and up, like he’s seeing her as delicious and trying to suppress some of that.”
Their Joy Is Real
While the presence of Amabile’s ex piled some awkwardness onto the start of their engagement, this photo from after their engagement reveals that the happy couple does appear to be just that: happy. “I really like how there’s an overlapping of their upper bodies, he’s holding her within that crook of the arm,” Wood says about this photo. “I wish there was more, but any overlapping body language shows a desire to merge.”
Further, Wood says Pitt’s smile is undeniably joyful. “Just look at that smile-squint,” Wood says. “She’s showing a lot of upper teeth, which shows happiness. It’s a true spontaneous smile, what I call the ‘Julia Roberts smile,’ with the upper teeth showing and a lot of that crease in the cheek, which is lifted up.” And while Wood would have liked to see Amabile with a similarly enthusiastic smile, she says the way he’s looking at Pitt is still her favorite thing about the photo. “His gaze is directed at her smile, he’s happy in her happiness,” she says.
During their engagement scene, Pitt told Amabile about all the struggles she’s had in love. “Then I met you,” she said to him. Wood says that moment stood out as especially genuine, and was extremely telling for their relationship. “When she said, ‘Then I met you,’ there was a lot of micro-facial cues of delight and happiness. And he got a little teary in response!” Wood says. “That was the sincere part, and he responded. At that moment, his mouth was what I call a ‘masking smile,’ that upside down smile. What you look for in the rest of the face is the emotion they’re masking, and he was masking his tears, trying to keep from crying. I like that! He also wipes his forehead quickly which subliminally means he wants to wipe his eyes. There’s a gesture cluster to show he’s trying to suppress his tears, which is very sweet.”
Unexpected visitors aside, Wood confirms that Pitt and Amabile appear genuinely happy as a couple, ready and able to take on life together and all the other surprises it’s sure to hold.
Patti Wood, body language expert and author of SNAP: Making The Most Of First Impressions, Body Language, And Charisma