How to Get More Affection from Your Relationships?
How often did you find yourself feeling lonely and craving more affection than you get?
Perhaps you wish your partner or your parent were more expressive, or maybe you’ve tried without success to get certain people in your life to be more affectionate with you.
If this describes you, then you’re experiencing a common problem known as affection hunger.
We are becoming more and more starved for affection. We’re touching our cell phones more than we touch each other.
Nearly 28 percent of Americans are living alone and one in four Americans reported having not a single person to talk to about important issues.
Today, you’re going to find out ways to deepen your relationships and get more affection from them.
Ready? Let’s get started!
- Why Affection is Important?
- How Our Lifestyles Have Created Pseudo-Intimacy?
- What Causes Lack of Intimacy and Vulnerability?
- How to Get More Affection From Your Relationships?
- Strategy #1: Be Open to Receiving Affection
- Strategy #2: Model the Type of Relationship You Seek
- Strategy #3: Recognize Variety of Affection Displays
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Why Affection is Important?
We normally associate hunger with food. We don’t feel hungry simply because we want food, but because we need food.
In the same way, when we feel emotionally starved, it’s because we need affection.
In this sense, hunger is nature’s way of making sure we get enough of something we need for our survival.
If we ignore this hunger—either on purpose or involuntarily—we experience a number of health complications.
In fact, “failure to thrive” in human infants has been shown to result from lack of individualized, nurturing, physically affectionate parental care, whether in an orphanage or due to extreme parental neglect.
Infants or children that fail to thrive seem to be dramatically smaller or shorter than other children the same age.
Relationships offer opportunities to give and receive affection, in turn, affection helps solidify and strengthen these relationships.
Benefits of receiving affection include increase in your sense of optimism and fortitude, decrease in feelings of depression, and increase in your body’s abilities to manage stress.
Affection also helps calm certain bodily functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure.
How Our Lifestyles Have Created Pseudo-Intimacy?
Despite the advance of technology and the effort we made to stay connected with each other, we ended up creating a pseudo-intimacy – a state of human attachment but without the effort or sacrifice it takes to nurture or maintain it.
Text messages and social media posts fail to replace meaningful communication. We know more people, but we know them less.
You can be bombarded with words on a daily basis and still feel so alone.
What Causes Lack of Intimacy and Vulnerability?
Even though relationships may begin with love, without safety and trust, both partners may find it hard to be vulnerable with one another.
Here are a few reasons for this difficulty:
1. Although it is our nature to reach out to others, when we consistently feel rejected, we eventually give up.
2. Feelings of shame and fear of abandonment if we reveal ourselves fully.
3. Insecure attachment styles, especially when both people have insecure attachment style, which is usually the case. We naturally gravitate towards people with the same level of emotional security even when we are consciously trying to run away from the past.
4. Living in family systems and communities with others who are not open to vulnerability for so long that we begin to believe that what we’re experiencing is normal.
5. Being out of touch with our emotions and struggling to express them.
How to Get More Affection From Your Relationships?
Strategy #1: Be Open to Receiving Affection
The best way to get more affection from others is to become more affectionate with them.
Affectionate communication is reciprocal. When you receive affectionate expressions, you feel compelled to respond in a compassionate way – When someone says “I love you,” it’s difficult not to say it back.
This is of course easier said than done.
Many people want others to be more affectionate with them, but at the same time, they are terrified of the idea of expressing affection to others first.
Understanding what’s holding you back from expressing more affection begins with identifying your fears, then reframing your concerns, and finally, facing these fears.
1. Identify Your Fears
Expressing affection can threaten our psychological and emotional well-being in many ways.
Some people fear the vulnerability and rejection that comes with expressing affection. Other people worry about scaring people off or committing themselves too deeply to someone else.
If you find it hard to express affection in your relationships, then you need to figure out what’s holding you back.
Try This: In your journal, write down a short paragraph about yourself where you describe any worries or concerns you have that keep you from being more affectionate with others.
2. Reframe Your Worries
Start paying attention to the language you use to describe your fears about affection.
You may notice, for instance, that much of your concerns are not justified. Or you might describe yourself in absolute terms, such as “that’s just not who I am.”
When you become aware of negative, unrealistic views and beliefs about affectionate behavior, you can begin to think of more positive and realistic beliefs.
Original statement: I didn’t get much affection growing up, so I’m not comfortable being affectionate now.
Reframed statement: My parents showed me their love by providing for other basic needs, this means that expressing affection more directly is a new experience for me and that will take some practice.
Try This: Take the paragraph you wrote before and look for any negative words or unrealistic beliefs. Then replace these with positive alternatives.
3. Face Your Fears: Start Showing Affection
The best way to change your beliefs, is to experience the new ones.
Start practicing giving affection with the new understanding and new beliefs on mind. That means reminding yourself that you have shifted your way of thinking, and then behaving as if your beliefs about affection are true.
Try This: Read the new paragraph every morning and resolve to find at least one way each day to express affection in a manner you would have feared before. Then notice how every affectionate act makes you feel.
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21 Simple Ways to Show Love and Affection
- Give them your full attention when they are talking to you
- Anticipate their needs
- Learn their love language
- Touch them
- Make eye contact
- Leave them a special note
- Dress up just for them
- Cook their favorite meal
- Brag about them
- Pay them a compliment
- Take care of one of their chores
- Write a list of all the reasons you love them
- Don’t forget important dates, like birthday, anniversary, etc.
- Accept them for who they are
- Forgive when they do something wrong
- Give them an back scratch
- Hold their hand
- Put your arm around them when walking
- Call them by their pet name
- Watch their favorite show with them
- Tell them how much they mean to you
Strategy #2: Model the Type of Relationship You Seek
Many people believe that the simplest route to getting the affection we need from others, is to ask for it.
This is because we realize that no matter how close our relationships are, our loved ones can’t read our minds, so we need to express our needs.
While this approach may work, it’s unlikely bring about long-term change and growth.
Invite Instead of Demand
Demanding affection doesn’t consider why the partner is unaffectionate in the first place. So, it doesn’t solve the problem. Some people find being emotionally vulnerable too risky or find it unnatural to express affection when they’re unfamiliar with it.
Furthermore, receiving a demand can feel belittling, regardless of what’s being demanded.
This is why inviting affection by encouraging it from a partner, can be a more effective approach.
Start reinvesting in your relationship. Create opportunities to share quality time with the other person, such as a night date, or a one-day retreat.
By inviting the person to share affection, you take much of the pressure off of them and create a safe space for them to show affection.
Inviting affection takes a bit more patience than demanding affection, but the effects are long-term and definitely worth it.
Try This: Think of one activity that you most desire from a loved one. Make a plan for inviting that activity, whether it is hugging, undivided attention, or more time spent together, or any other activity.
Choose the appropriate moment and say, “I’d love to spend some time together this weekend if you’re free.”
Strategy #3: Recognize Variety of Affection Displays
Sometimes, the main reason why we feel starved for affection, is because we sometimes think too narrowly about what affection is and how it can be expressed.
This is what Dr. Gary Chapman referred to as love language.
Each one of us uses a primary love language to express his affection and love. These languages include, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, quality time, and physical touch.
Discovering the primary love language of your loved one will help you, not only show him affection more effectively, but also begin to appreciate his affection.
If your father welcomes you with a hug every time you go home, then his primary love language is probably physical touch. If your date complains that you never compliment them, then words of affirmation could be their primary love language. And so on…
Finding out Your Loved One’s Love Language
1. Observe Their Behavior
Ask yourself “How do they typically express love to other people?” If they regularly encourage people by giving them words of affirmation, then perhaps that is their primary love language. If they are constantly giving gifts to others, then gifts might be their primary love language and so on.
In other words, they are doing for others what they wish you would do for them.
2. Ask The Right Questions
Asking the following questions will help you discover your loved one’s primary love language.
“What do I do or say that makes you feel loved the most?”
Loneliness isn’t always about being alone – oftentimes, it’s about missing meaningful connections to our loved ones.
As you work on embracing your own need for affection and pushing through the fear of giving and receiving it, you can truly find within your grasp the loneliness cure.
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- Portions of this article were adapted from the book The Loneliness Cure: Six Strategies for Finding Real Connections in Your Life, © 2015 by Kory Floyd. All rights reserved.