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How to Show Affection in a Relationship When It Doesn’t Come Naturally

Knowing how to show affection can be hard, especially when it doesn’t come naturally, but when you care for someone you figure it out.

how to show affection

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.

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]

Do you know how to show affection in a relationship?

Affection can be shown through both small touches and epic gestures. In fact, you may be showing more affection than you think.

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 way that feels right to you, and in a way, your partner will receive it.

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.

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: 20 questions to ask your lover to learn everything you need to know]

Are you uncomfortable showing affection?

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 reign themselves in for you.

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 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: how to make it work for you]

How to show affection in a relationship

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.

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.

1. Know their love language

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.

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. [Read: How to show someone you love them with more than words]

2. Pay attention

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.

3. Support them

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. [Read: 15 ways to be a good partner]

4. Take the time

We all have busy lives, but relationships thrive off of 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.

5. Talk

I 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.

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 topics all happy couples talk about often]

6. Appreciate them

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: How to show your appreciation to someone you love]

7. Touch

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: 20 types of physical touch and what they mean]

8. Cuddle

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 is 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.

9. Kiss

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 a kiss can do so much more]

10. Write love notes

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.

11. Buy little gifts

You don’t need to come home with a gold watch or diamond necklace to show affection. What actually shows even more affection are little things that show your 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 lttle things take your relaitonshi in the right direction and show a lot more effort and love than expensive gifts can. [Read: 25 of the sweetest romantic gestures]

12. Stay polite

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 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 on accident. Saying please and thank you go a lot further than you may think when it comes to affection.

13. Compromise

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 give 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]

14. Check-in

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]

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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Samantha Ann
My name is Samantha Ann. I am 28 years old. It was always my dream to become an advice columnist, so after years of off and online dating and eventually finding...