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A Lack of Affection in a Relationship: Is It Time to Walk Away?

A lack of affection in a relationship can cause one or both partners to feel cold and unloved. If it’s consistent, is it time to end the relationship?

Lack of Affection in a Relationship

A lack of affection in a relationship is a big issue. It’s a chronic problem which can eventually, if left unchecked, be the root cause of a breakup. Of course, it could be that one partner has simply become a little busy at work and been distracted.

Short-term affection problems can be solved, provided communication lines are open. However, when one person isn’t particularly affectionate and the other is, how can that relationship survive?

I personally don’t think it can.

What do you need in a relationship?

Be honest, this is a safe space, after all. Do you need a lot of hugs and kisses? Are you a touchy feely, cuddly kind of person? Or, do you prefer space and feel a little uncomfortable with PDA?

[Read: Is it normal to be feeling doubts in your relationship?]

A relationship is made up of two people, and there are no two people on this planet who are the same. This is a good thing. Can you imagine how boring it would be if we found clones of ourselves wandering around?

Of course, this also presents challenges, because that means every person has their own likes, dislikes, and their own set of personal boundaries. This can be even more of a problem when two people with very different boundaries meet and join forces. [Read: How to be more affectionate in a relationship and show them you care]

Being honest about what you need

I am a tactile person, i.e. I like to touch, hold hands, cuddle, etc. I don’t feel bad about admitting that, because it’s simply part of who I am and what I need in a relationship. I was in a relationship with someone who was less tactile than me. While he wasn’t particularly cold, he wasn’t as cuddly as I sometimes am.

At times, this left me feeling a little unwanted. Of course, I was completely aware that we were two totally different people, and that meant I had to compromise a little. I also expected him to compromise and be a little more ‘hands on’ as a result.

It didn’t happen. In the end I walked away from the relationship because no matter how many times I tried to discuss the issue of affection, he refused to budge. He simply told me it wasn’t something he needed, so I had to focus on what I needed and wave goodbye. [Read: The 7 non-negotiables in a relationship you shouldn’t compromise on]

What can contribute to a lack of affection in a relationship?

I’ve already mentioned one possible reason for a lack of affection in a relationship. Simply two differing personality types, who need different things from their partner. You can’t change someone and make them more touchy feely if that’s simply not something they feel comfortable with. But you shouldn’t pull yourself back and force yourself to be less so as a result.

It’s about being honest about what you want and your boundaries. Then making a choice based on how you feel about it, just like I did.

Other reasons can be temporary. For instance, one partner going through a period of stress at work and they’re distracted. They might not realize that they’re not being as affectionate with their partner as they normally would be. In this case, a gentle conversation might be all it takes to right the issue. [Read: How to show affection when it doesn’t come naturally]

Remember, we all go through hard times in life and periods of time where our minds are simply elsewhere. This can cause us to be less affectionate or less present, and we don’t actually know we’re doing it. It’s easy to become distracted with the comings and goings of life, but having open lines of communication helps to avoid the issue turning into a chronic, long-term deal.

I don’t want to mention this particular possibility, but if we’re being honest then it’s something we have to face. Another reason for a possible lack of affection in a relationship is deliberate. This could be that one partner has simply checked out mentally and doesn’t want to be in the relationship anymore.

Don’t panic if you’re noticing a slight dip in affection, it doesn’t necessarily mean this is the reason, but it’s the worst case scenario that we have to mention for completeness’ sake.

[Read: How to say goodbye to someone you love without fear]

Again, communication is key. Telling your partner what you want is also about telling them what you don’t want, and that means if you’re not longer invested in the relationship. If your partner is being cold simply because they don’t want to be in the relationship anymore then they’re acting cowardly and expecting you to cause a problem, so the relationship can end via those means.

If this is the case, and after the dust has settled, ask yourself this question – do you really want someone quite so cowardly?

Of course not! You deserve better.

Dealing with a lack of affection in a relationship

By reading this far, I’m assuming that you are in this very situation. You’ve noticed your partner is being a little less affectionate than they normally would be. Before you jump in and consider the worst case scenario, ask yourself these questions:

– How long has this been going on?

– Is it out of character?

– Are there any situations or problems in their life at the moment which could be the reason?

– Am I showing affection?

The number one thing to not do is mirror. The last question on that list might seem odd, but if someone is showing less affection, we mirror their behavior and pull back on the amount of affection we show them. As a result, they mirror us. The whole thing turns into one big vicious circle which could have been solved by simply having an open and honest conversation! [Read: A guide for effective communication in your relationship]

When to speak up

Saying to your partner “you’re being less affectionate” isn’t easy. You need to address if it is bothering you. If it’s only been going on for a few days or a week, wait it out a little. Perhaps there is a reason and everything will return to normal, but if you’ve noticed it’s been going on for a while and making you feel down, time to talk about it. [Read: 16 non-sexual touches to feel really connected and loved]

Avoid blaming or accusing your partner of being cold. Don’t do the “we have to talk” scenario. Keep it light and playful if you need to, but simply ask if anything is bothering them because you’ve noticed they’ve been a little less affectionate of late. By asking if anything is wrong, you’re turning the attention to a helpful and positive stance, rather than a “why aren’t you cuddling me” accusation.

Hopefully, the answer will come your way and things will right themselves simply by highlighting the issue. If not, then that is something you need to consider for yourself.

A relationship devoid of affection isn’t fun or loving. If you’re someone who needs affection then you’re only punishing yourself by staying in a relationship which doesn’t give you what you need. In this case, I believe it’s time to call it quits.

It might not be what you want to hear, but do you really want to beg someone for affection? Of course not, you want it to be given freely. That’s what you deserve.

[Read: How to keep a relationship going when you feel it slipping away]

A lack of affection in a relationship can be a temporary blip or the beginning of the end. Approach the situation with caution and care to find out the reason and make a decision for yourself. We all deserve affection!

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Nicky Curtis
Nicky Curtis
Having stumbled from one relationship drama to another throughout her 20s, Nicky is now somewhat of a guru in the crazy world of life and love. Telling it how i...
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