As much as we love and care for our partners, it is not always easy to know how to show affection. In the same way, some people would describe themselves as touchy-feely, others have a tough time with intimacy. Learning how to show affection in a relationship could be the difference between a happy union and an abrupt end.
Essentially, affection is your fondness for someone. You may know you care for your partner, but without showing it, how will they know?
Relationships work when both partners are open and honest, even about what you think would be obvious. You can never assume that your partner knows how you’re feeling. Showing your affection is vital.
[Read: 25 sweetest romantic gestures for everyday life that are easy to use]
If relationships were easy, there would never be such a thing as heartache. Or romantic comedies. Or romance movies in general.
The hardships of love and making a relationship last are widely known by pretty much anyone who has ever had feelings for someone. But why is it hard to know how to show love sometimes?
Making a relationship work isn’t easy. Sure, your relationship shouldn’t be difficult to maneuver, and it should feel natural. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to put in an effort to make your partner happy. It doesn’t mean you just tell your partner you love them and be done for the day.
A lot of people think cheating and/or abuse are the only things that ruin a relationship. Sometimes it’s something else altogether.
If you don’t how to show love and affection in a relationship, or let your significant other know that you love them, you put your relationship at risk and not even realize it.
By forgetting to do this—even if you do truly love them—you could be making them doubt you and your feelings.
This leads to insecurities, jealousy, arguments, and a loss of feelings for you. If you don’t show your love for the other person, you may as well not care for them at all. [Read: 20 relationship problems that push a couple apart or bring them closer]
Affection can be shown through both small touches and epic gestures. You may be uncomfortable with public display of affection, but you may be displaying your love for them in more quieter, sweeter ways than a public kiss.
Affection is shown when you make your partner’s coffee for them or do the dishes without being asked. It is shown when you kiss them goodbye before work or cuddle up on the sofa after a long day.
Sure, affection is seen when you go out of your way to plan a romantic candlelit dinner and spread rose petals on the floor too.
But, show affection in a relationship in a way that feels right to you, and in a way, your partner will receive it. [Read: 20 questions to ask your lover to learn everything you need to know]
If giving a gift is how you show affection, that is great, but your partner may see that as a cop-out. Your partner may prefer to show affection through spending time together or through physical touch. We all have different love languages, i.e. the way we show and receive affection and love.
So, just like everything else in your relationship, showing affection is something you should talk about and discuss. Understand how your partner best receives that affection and how you do too. [Read: 41 ways to show someone you love them in the way they want to be loved]
Some people don’t like PDA or public displays of affection. Others don’t like to show that affection at all. It isn’t that they don’t want to, but it just isn’t within their comfort zone.
Is that you? Do you want to hug and kiss your partner or hold their hand while out in public, but you just feel everyone staring or are nervous? That is okay.
If you are uncomfortable with certain forms of showing affection, talk to your partner about it.
Let them know where you are comfortable and what ways you can show your affection. Also, let them know what you feel comfortable with from them. Try to branch out and do what they need, while they may have to rein themselves in for you. [Read: Relationship anxiety – 20 mistakes you need to stop making]
Showing affection can be a vulnerable thing. Showing that you trust someone and care for them may feel risky. But, if you want a relationship to work, you need to be willing to take some risks.
You don’t need to do anything you’re uncomfortable with, but trying to fulfill your partner’s needs for affection while staying true to your own is important.
Showing affection isn’t all about you, but you and your partner together and what works best for your relationship. [Read: Dating your opposite and how to make it work for you]
When you figure out how to show affection in a relationship, it is all about the partnership. If you showed affection to your ex through acts of service like helping them move or building them a bookshelf, that might not correspond to your current relationship.
If your partner showed affection to their ex through only intimacy and physical touch, you would want them to show affection to you how you best feel it, not how they are used to showing it.
Yes, this can make us uncomfortable at first. Showing affection in new ways gets us out of our comfort zone. But that is what relationships are all about.
Showing affection is necessary to keep your relationship strong and healthy. Never assume that your partner knows how you’re feeling and vice versa. Making that known through signs of affection is how you remain close and connected. [Read: 41 ways to show someone you love them in a way they want to be loved]
Apart from talking to your partner and figuring out how you can best show affection to them, there are quite a few things, both big and small, to show affection in a relationship.
Not only should you show affection by knowing what your partner best responds to, but just the process of learning their love language and wanting to show affection is in itself showing affection.
As we mentioned earlier, love languages are how we give and receive love.
These can be words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, gifts, and quality time. If you are unsure about this, there are quick quizzes you can take online to get more insight into your relationship. The first step in learning how to show affection in a relationship is understanding what affection means to you. [Read: How to prove you love someone – 15 honest things every lover must do]
You may think you are paying attention to your relationship, but oftentimes you fall flat. Just because you sit with your partner and eat a meal, it does not mean you are fully present.
With phones, work, and the internet, you can be so easily distracted. Take time in your relationship to be 100% present. Turn off your phones and just be together. Talk about the important stuff and really pay attention and interact.
Couples succeed when they have their time together and time apart. But, even their separate endeavors like work should be supported. Whether you are privy to your partner’s field or not, listen and be a sounding board for them.
Cheer them on and congratulate them when they accomplish something. This can go for work promotions, completing a marathon, or finishing a painting. This is a large part of learning how to show affection in a relationship.
We all have busy lives, but relationships thrive on effort. One of the best ways to show affection in a relationship is to take the time. Whether this means planning a date night once a week or an hour every day away from everything, do what feels right to you.
We often get comfortable in our relationships and stop putting in the effort. But that is how you lose affection. If you put the effort in and make time for each other, you create space for showing affection.
We do not mean talking about kids or work or when the garbage gets picked up. Really take the time to talk. You can always learn more about each other and that also helps you to understand how to show affection in a relationship too.
Remember when you first started dating, how you could talk for hours? You had so much to share. Just because you and your partner know a lot about each other doesn’t mean there isn’t more to discuss. [Read: 25 best relationship topics all happy couples talk about often]
Say thank you. It really is that easy sometimes. When you are busy or overwhelmed, it can be hard to show affection in the bigger ways. But telling your partner how much you appreciate them making dinner or just being there for you is so important.
You might get used to them doing the laundry or picking up groceries, but by overlooking these things, you fall short. By simply saying thank you and acknowledging all they do for you, you know how to show affection. [Read: 16 sweetest ways to show your appreciation to someone you love]
Touch is so important in any romantic relationship. It can be hard to show affection without it. It may not come naturally to you based on your past relationships or your family.
But actively reminding yourself of these small touches can make a big difference. Just resting your hand on your partner’s leg at dinner, wrapping your arm around their back, or rubbing their shoulders after a long day says a lot more than you might think. [Read: 36 types of physical touches and what they mean]
Cuddling is an overlooked part of showing affection in relationships. This is something you often see missing from relationships on their last legs. Something that is rarely lacking from healthy couples is cuddling. That comfort and intimacy are so important to remaining close.
Next time you’re watching a movie or TV, just lean on your partner’s shoulder. It means more than you think. Look back at the early days of your relationship. The first time you cuddled meant a lot, and it still means just as much, even if you are used to it.
Try not to go a day without a kiss. Something as simple as a kiss before work or before going to sleep can reignite that spark. It reminds you both of your closeness.
It is hard to kiss someone you don’t have affection for, so that kiss shows the affection you do have. [Read: How to be way more affectionate in a relationship and show them you care]
In this age of non-stop texting, handwritten notes mean a lot. You do not need to write a love letter or a poem.
Showing affection is as simple as leaving a Post-it on the fridge saying that you are thinking of them or can’t wait to see them after work. In terms of how to show affection in a relationship, this is a big one to look toward.
You don’t need to come home with a gold watch or diamond necklace to show affection. What actually shows even more affection is thoughtfulness.
Pick up their favorite snack on the way home from work. Print out a funny picture of the two of you and frame it.
These small things take your relationship in the right direction and show a lot more effort and love than expensive gifts can. [Read: 48 cute and romantic things to do with your girlfriend she’ll really love]
Politeness isn’t just for your boss or your in-laws. Remaining polite with your partner even after years of being together is one of the most subtle yet important ways to show affection. This is all a matter of respect.
Losing your cool, being angry, or even being mean to your partner shows a lack of respect and an expectation for them to accept these moments.
Taking some breaths and calming down when you’re upset shows that you care how your speak to them and don’t want to hurt them, even by accident. Saying please and thank you go a lot further than you may think when it comes to learning how to show affection in a relationship.
We all have selfish moments, but meeting your partner halfway shows a level of affection greater than so many of these other things.
Being open to hearing them out and giving a little to make them happy shows your level of affection for them.
Everyone wants things their way whether it is choosing where to live or what movie to watch, but letting go, and making your partner happy or giving something up for them shows so much care. [Read: How to compromise in a relationship without losing out]
Whether you’re busy at work or know they are in for a rough day, reaching out just to say “I love you” or “I hope you’re having a good day” shows affection.
It says you are thinking of them and care how they are. It is so easy, and smile yet makes such a difference. [Read: Sweet gestures to show love without using words]
We know this seems really cheesy, but if it can save your relationship or just show your significant other how much you love them, it’s worth it. Right?
Write small, cute texts and send them throughout the day. Anything as simple as, “you look beautiful/handsome” is more than enough. [Read: The best *200+* sweet and flirty texts to make her smile]
This is something everyone has the means to do, and it’s a great way to show affection in a relationship. Spending a few dollars every week or even only a couple of times a month is something that’s both easy and affordable.
You stop at the store multiple times during the week and grabbing their favorite candy or guilty pleasure food is something that shows them how much you care.
Don’t know how to show love or feel awkward doing saying those three words? Then show them! Many people work long days and carry the stress in their back muscles. Believe us when we say a back rub before they drift off to sleep shows them more than enough love.
Caring about their relaxation and reducing the tension they feel is important to them.
How many times do you walk past your significant other in a day? Those are all opportunities for you to show your love and affection in the relationship.
Just give them a little kiss on their cheek, forehead, or even their lips. That moment of affection has the power to make them want to stay.
It may be something really simple and silly, but it means more than you may think. Especially if your significant other is someone who feels loved by physical actions.
Give them a little slap and grunt of appreciation. They’ll want to stick around. [Read: 21 heartfelt ways to show someone you care and make them feel loved]
Compliments are so underrated. Everyone likes to hear what you like about them. So, speak up. Don’t just keep those thoughts to yourself.
If you think they’re looking particularly attractive that day, tell them. If they’re discussing something intelligent and you admire their mind, say so.
Don’t just make a routine of asking how someone’s day is. Always ask with the intention of listening to what happened to them.
You never know what may have happened during the day to make them feel a certain way. Ask, and actually be interested.
This is one of the best things to show affection in a relationship. Listen to what your partner says—about anything. Even if it’s something you’re not particularly interested in.
If it means a lot to them, taking it all in and paying attention shows them so much love and affection. [Read: 19 ways to be a much better listener in your relationship]
If they come to you for advice, don’t just shrug your shoulders and say, “I don’t know.”
They came to you for a reason. Even if you’re unsure what to do, talk it out with them and tell them what you would do in their situation.
Advice is huge when it comes to showing your love. But, that doesn’t mean you should push your will onto them. Give them your opinion and then support them in finding their own route through the problem.
Family and friends are big in your partner’s life. If you really want to show them how much you love them, get involved and be there with their family and friends whenever you can. Even asking how they’re doing is enough to show love.
We’re not saying you should actually do all the things they do, but be emotionally involved if you want to know how to show affection and love in a relationship. Ask them about how the book they’re writing is going. Ask how they’re doing in their volleyball league.
Be interested in what they have a passion for. [Read: 25 hobbies for couples that want to have more fun together]
Everyone has times when they’re so stressed they just can’t deal with the day-to-day tasks of life.
The dishes pile up, they can’t muster the energy for laundry, and they can barely cook themselves healthy food. Picking up the slack and doing these things for them from time to time shows your love more than you think.
We all have times when we just want to be alone to process things. To show your love and understanding, give them this time. Let them be alone, but make sure they know you’re there whenever they’re ready to talk it out. [Read: 11 signs you spend way too much time together]
It’s not about the big stuff. Sure, you could buy them a diamond necklace and matching earrings.
But ultimately, it’s the small kiss you give them before leaving for work or ordering their favorite takeout and having it delivered when they’ve had a stressful day. Random surprises show your love and make them want to stay.
[Read: 23 real ways to love someone and make them feel true love from you]
When you think about how to show affection in a relationship, it is not that complicated. Listen to your partner to show affection through almost everything you do.
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