Learning how to be more affectionate in a relationship can mean quite a few things. Yes, you are showing your fondness for someone, but there are numerous ways to do that. Everything from holding hands to buying gifts and even taking the garbage out can help you to be more affectionate.
Instead of thinking of affection as a way for you to change, think of it as a way to be even more you. If you aren’t touchy-feely, you don’t have to be. Being affectionate in a relationship comes in all shapes and sizes.
Does showing affection really matter in a relationship?
This may sound cheesy, but how are you supposed to share love and affection with your partner if you can’t show it to yourself? If you don’t care for yourself, you won’t be able to properly be more affectionate in a relationship.
Take a look at how you treat yourself. Do you do the bare minimum? Or do you invest in yourself and in your future? Do you sell yourself short or believe in yourself and your capabilities? If you aren’t more affectionate with yourself, it will be hard to do so for others.
Being able to love yourself is not always easy. We all have our doubts and issues, but being able to overpower those most of the time is what makes you capable of being the most affectionate you. [Read: Feeling unlovable? 12 life changing truths you need to know]
Why is being affectionate in a relationship so hard?
You may wonder why you are struggling so much with understanding how to be more affectionate in a relationship. Well, being affectionate is showing the other person that you care. It sounds simple, but for many of us, it is far from that.
Showing someone you care means letting down your walls and barriers and letting them in. Showing how much you care opens you up to potentially getting hurt. But that is the whole point of a relationship. Isn’t it? There is always a risk, but what you get is so much better.
Think of it this way, if you never show affection, you won’t be shown affection and that would be a very lonely way to live. Showing affectionate doesn’t have to be so scary when you think about how good it feels to show someone how much they mean to you. [Read: Ways you can open up more and be vulnerable to those you love]
How to be more affectionate in a relationship
Once you face any inner demons that are holding you back from showing more affection, you can start to actually work on the affection part.
#1 How does your partner show affection? If you are looking for ways to be more affectionate in a relationship that may be because your partner is great at it while you may be lacking. So look at what your partner does to show you how much you are appreciated.
Do they write you love notes? Make you dinner? Or maybe they kiss you before you go off to work every day. I am not saying you should copy the way they show affection, but their behavior can give you some ideas of what sort of things you could be trying or just reciprocating. [Read: 14 steps to emotionally connect with someone and feel closer]
#2 Get to know your partner’s love language. Everyone gives and receives affection differently. You may appreciate physical touch, but maybe your partner needs you to be vocal with your feelings. Once you figure out what sort of action means the most to your partner, you can alter your behavior accordingly.
#3 Ask. If you can’t pick up on what your partner is looking for from you, simply ask what they need from you to know how much you care. Your partner will appreciate the effort and that you want to show affection in the way that suits them the most.
The act of asking your partner what they need is in and of itself more affectionate. [Read: How to open up to someone and form a deeper connection]
#4 Make small gestures. Showing affection does not have to be a grand gesture. It can be as simple as treating them to their favorite dessert or driving out of the way to get that weird snack they love.
Affection is more than a cuddle here and an “I love you” there. Even offering to do the dishes when it is your partner’s turn shows your affection for them. I mean, who would do the dishes for someone they don’t care about? [Read: 25 sweetest everyday gestures that can make you more affectionate]
#5 Say thank you. And mean it. This may not seem like a term of endearment or way to show affection, but it really, really is. Do you remember as a child when your mom would make dinner and no one ever said thank you, and she would say, “No one around here appreciates me?” Well, this is the same idea but in the arms of a relationship.
Showing someone affection doesn’t just start with you. You have to reciprocate the things they do and make it clear you appreciate it, and something as simple as a thank you can make all the difference. Did you partner stay up all night to help you study? Or maybe they waited for the cable person to come? Say thank you, it means a lot.
#6 Touch. Here is the one you’ve been waiting for. On the surface, you may consider affection to be the same as intimacy, but in reality, that is only one facet of being affectionate. Everything from holding hands to cuddling on the sofa shows affection.
When you are fond of someone, you want to be near them and touching the person you care about has been proven to increase some happy chemical in your brain, I think they’re called endorphins. That is why a hug from your partner at the end of a long day feels so good. Make it your mission to touch your partner more, not just sexually, but that won’t hurt. [Read: Non-sexual touches to help you feel connected and loved]
#7 Communicate. For some reason, people often get scared of the word communication. And that is probably because communication doesn’t just mean sharing the good stuff, but the hard stuff too. You might wonder how you can be more affectionate in a relationship by having the hard conversations, but that is the whole point.
Opening up to your partner about the hard stuff shows trust and affection. When you depend on your partner for advice or just to listen, you are showing them how much you value having them in your life. [Read: 14 steps to better communication and a better love life]
#8 Make time. As I said earlier, learning how to be more affectionate in a relationship is not one simple act. It is not one gesture but it is your overall behavior in the relationship. Say you’re at work and will be home late, texting your partner that you are thinking of them and can’t wait to see them is showing affection.
But when you are super busy for two weeks and send your partner a superficial gift instead of making time for them, you are being less affectionate. Spending time together and making time to do that is a vital way to be more affectionate. It means you are putting your relationship before work, hobbies, or anything else.
#9 Pay attention. One way I know the person I’m with really appreciates me is when they listen. Maybe that is just me, but having someone actually pay attention to you and your story about seeing a rabbit in your neighbor’s yard when they could be diving into the expansive internet from the palm of their hand is flattering and meaningful.
Giving someone your full attention shows more affection than you realize. Have you ever hung out with someone who was on their phone the whole time? It is rude and can make you feel like they have someplace better they would rather be. A great way to learn how to be more affectionate in a relationship is to be more involved and attentive. [Read: Learn how to be a better listener in your relationship]
#10 Make a plan. By nature, some people just aren’t that affectionate. It may be the way you were raised, your past relationships, or a combination of both of those plus more. But everyone is capable of being more affectionate in a relationship. It just comes easier to some.
So, if you’re one of the people that tends to struggle to open up and show your affection, you can go to therapy and try to work through your issues with displaying your affection. I would highly recommend that, but you can also plan out when you are going to show your affection.
It can take a while to add small gestures and sweet comments into your everyday life. Instead, plan a date night once a week. Or even set an alarm in your phone to remind you to send a sweet note to your partner. That may not seem spontaneous or romantic, but it is a stepping stone.
[Read: Sweet gestures to express your love to the one you love]
Knowing how to be more affectionate in a relationship can be confusing. But realizing it is as simple as wanting to make sure your partner knows they are appreciated in whatever way you know how, makes it more clear.
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