Love and affection go together. You can be caring and warm with your dog, your children, and your mate, but each type of love is different. Some might even argue that you can show affection without love, but you can’t love without genuine attachment.
When you are in a committed relationship, gentle, affectionate actions are just as necessary as sexual connections, and maybe even more so. One of the biggest complaints in marriages and partnerships is a genuine lack of affection.
How people show their love and affection depends on many variables. In general, women tend to be more touchy-feely than men. Perhaps, it’s because females in our country are socialized from birth to be the nurturing ones, and they are usually comfortable with showing their emotions. However, males are taught to be rough and tough and to keep their feelings hidden.
A person’s culture also plays a role in how they show love and affection towards others. In studies across the globe, people from the Mediterranean or Latin American countries tend to openly show their warmth with hugging and generous kisses on the hands and cheeks. However, many Northern European and Asian cultures are usually more reserved and frown on public displays of affection, and holding hands is about as far as they go.
People who have been in past abusive relationships often have trust issues. The same is found in individuals who were physically and sexually abused as children. All these variables factor into future relationships where lack of affection is a common problem.
Affectionate Love is A Basic Need
Psychologists have already identified affection as a basic human need, just as much as they need for food, clothing, shelter, and acceptance. The problem is that many couples have a difference of opinion on how to show and receive affection. For some people, hugging, cuddling, and holding hands come naturally, and others must be taught how to show they care appropriately.
Are you in a relationship that could use some more warmth? You may know that your partner loves you, but you need him to show you more often. Here are seven ways to deal with a mate who is less affectionate than you would like.
1. Tell Your Partner What You Want
One of the most common mistakes in a relationship is to assume your partner can read your mind. While love brings a couple together, efficient communication keeps them together. How often have you been frustrated with your lover’s lack-luster affection and just stewed over it instead of saying something to them about it?
Since you’ve entrusted your mate with your heart, he is your safe place. You can talk to him about anything and know that he will listen and understand. If you want more cuddling and gentle touches from him, then tell him what you want. Many people are raised in an unaffectionate home and must be lovingly told how to show their love.
Be caring but honest in your conversation and not accusatory. If you put your lover on the defense, he will probably shut down and won’t listen to you. Choose a time when you are both relaxed and in a reflective mood, and don’t broach the subject when you’re both stressed and tired. During an argument, it’s never a good time to discuss affection issues.
Although you want to talk candidly with your mate, try to stay neutral and don’t stir up emotion. Your goal is to express your needs so you can work on a solution together. You are asking for more affection, not begging, which would make you appear needy and controlling.
Let your partner know that while you’ve never doubted his love and devotion, you just need more from the relationship. Tell him that yes, you love your sexual relationship as much as he does, but affection goes beyond the bedroom.
Afterward, listen to what he has to say. Chances are he never knew how you felt and that you wanted things to be different. Rather than ask how he’s going to fix it, ask what you can do to take your relationship to a new level of love.
2. Evaluate Your Attitudes about Love & Affection
If your notion of love and affection is based on the latest romance novel or your favorite soap opera, you’ll be sadly disappointed in any relationship in the real world. Realize that these are fictional characters that have few similarities with real life.
You’re bound to start a fight if you compare your lover to the ones you see on tv or in your books. After you’ve both had a long day at work, he probably won’t rush into the living room, ready to recreate a soap opera scene. You want unique love and affection from your sweetheart, not fake idealism from Hollywood.
3. Set the Stage
If displays of affection are forced, then neither partner benefits. If your lover isn’t used to being affectionate, the first few tries maybe a little awkward. To be more comfortable with showing his love naturally, try to create as many opportunities for it as possible.
For example, keep a warm, cozy blanket folded on your love seat in the living room. As soon as you sit together to watch a good movie, it will be natural for your mate to cuddle up with you in the blanket. Don’t be afraid to be the first to reach for his hand while you are strolling through the mall or sitting on a park bench.
Do you like for him to bring you unique little gifts just to say he loves you? Leave subtle hints about your favorite perfume or other things you adore. How can he surprise you with an evening of dinner and dancing if he doesn’t know your favorite restaurant?
4. Be Encouraging Every Step of the Way
Did he bring you a lovely bouquet and it wasn’t even your birthday or anniversary? Tell him how much you love and appreciate his loving gesture, and he’s apt to do more. Some men may be tigers in the bedroom, but they are like shy and awkward schoolboys when it comes to showing affection.
Smile warmly when he takes your hand to hold while you walk together in public. Let him know that you love it when he gives you a surprise kiss or a loving embrace. Be the example and return his affection, so he knows he’s doing it right.
As a loving mentor, do the things for your sweetheart that you would like him to do for you, as the Golden Rule of Affection. Whisper romantic words, reach for his hand to hold and do extraordinary things for him out of the blue. He can get the hint and start cultivating his affections.
5. Be Patient and Understanding
People cannot just look into the past and change their upbringing. Just as it took time for you to get to know each other and fall in love, learning to be more affectionate won’t happen overnight. The process may try your patience, but it will be worth the wait.
If your lover held your hand and cuddled with you yesterday and seems a little distant today, don’t be discouraged. Instead of getting frustrated, consider telling him that you loved the time you spent together previously. Your gentle reminders and encouragement can make all the difference.
6. Learn to be Playful Together
When was the last time you had fun together? There’s much more to a fulfilling relationship than intimacy. Playful affection flames the fire of romance and keeps the relationship fresh and alive. Are you or your mate ticklish? What could be more enjoyable than a few little tickles and giggles?
Learn to be spontaneous and laugh with each other. Play a game of tag in the yard that ends with a kiss, or splash in a warm bubble bath together. A little nibble on the ear or a flirty swat on the back end is some of the many ways to be creative with your affection.
7. Involve a Third Party for Help
There is no shame in asking for help to improve a relationship. It reflects your love and desire to strengthen the bonds that keep you together. For some couples, dealing with one partner’s lack of affection may require professional counseling.
There may be some past trauma or other issues that need to be resolved. Maybe you believe that your lover’s dwindled affection was somehow your fault. Consider couples counseling with a professional counselor that you trust with your feelings and situation.
If your partner is hesitant about seeing a professional counselor, maybe he would consider talking with a minister or a trusted family friend. Go in with the attitude that this is our issue, not just his issue. Your compassion may be the thing to get him to open up about his feelings.
In any relationship, both partners need and deserve affection. If you and your lover aren’t on the same page, you can work together for a resolution. A more affectionate relationship can bring you closer together for a lifetime of love and commitment.