If you die a little inside at the very thought of personal contact, or mushy professions of love, don't worry. It's OK to not be the cuddly type. But every now and then, the people in your life might appreciate some tender loving care. And as someone who loves all of that sappy crap, trust me when I say it'll come in handy to learn how to show your love in other ways.
Since I am a self-admitted touchy-feely person, I have a keen eye for all you anti-affectionate types. Ya'll are the type to brush off someone's arm when they put it around your shoulder, or to scooch away on the couch when someone sits too near. To each is own, but let me tell you something you probably already know — it kinda hurts.
Now I'm not trying to convince you otherwise, but I will drop this piece of scientific data that shows that benefits of personal touch. According to Dacher Keltner on GreatGood.Berekely.edu, "A wave of studies has documented some incredible emotional and physical health benefits that come from touch. This research is suggesting that touch is truly fundamental to human communication, bonding, and health."
But science and joking aside, I know that if it's not your thing then it's just not your thing. We all have a million reasons for feeling the way we do, and if touching and cuddling makes you uncomfortable, then there's no reason to feel bad about it. However, if you'd like to show your love in other ways, here are some not-too-horrible ways to go about it.
1. Give Thoughtful Gifts
Part of having people in your life is showing your appreciation for them. Many people do this by cuddling and what have you. But when that's not your MO, you can make up for it with thoughtful presents. Think of the joy on your mom's face when you handed her a macaroni necklace on Mother's Day. Did your five-year-old self adequately express your love with words and actions? Probably not. And yet that necklace spoke volumes by making your mom feel special. The same goes for giving gifts as an adult. A well-thought-out gift, whether it's store-bought or homemade, can really do the trick.
2. Make Your Moments Of Affection Count
OK, so you don't have to do this if you don't want to. But I'm saying if want to dole out one hug a week, make it as amazing as possible. I'm not talking about half-assed side hugs, but a real loving embrace. Same goes for hand holding, cuddling, and all of that. Only be affectionate if you want to. And then do it with love, because cringing your way through it is far worse than not doing it all.
3. Be All About That Quality Time
When you're with family, your SO, or a group of friends, really be there. In other words, commit yourself to some old-fashioned quality time. As Petra Boynton notes in The Telegraph, "[quality is time is] where you give each other 'undivided attention’ to talk, listen, eat together, or enjoy a shared activity." It's all about being as present as possible.
4. Offer Loving Words Of Affirmation
Saying "I love you" can be difficult for some, so use other so-called "words of affirmation" to make your love known. According to Boynton, "these are kind, affectionate, appreciative statements that recognize what your loved one means to you. Phrases that respect and encourage each other are also important ... You could do this verbally, and/or via email, text, letter, ... or through sharing music, poems or phrases that reflect your feelings."
5. Write Notes Of Appreciation
In the same vein as the words of affirmation, writing a note is another way to steer yourself around the awkwardness of verbally expressing affection. Take your time with a pen and paper, and scratch out a few words of appreciation. Everyone loves receiving a handwritten note in the mail, instead the usual deluge of bills and catalogs. And to wake up to a little love note? Forget about it — it's so darn cute.
6. Dish It Out When It Counts
You may squirm at the very thought of people invading your personal space. But there are several occasions in life when it's appropriate (and kind of necessary) to give out a hug or a kiss. Moments include: leaving your parents house after a visit, saying goodbye to your SO before they go on a big trip, when visiting your grandma in the hospital, after congratulating your best friend at her wedding, etc. You don't have to kiss and hug everyone all day long, but give yourself a reminder to show some love when it counts.
It's possible to get through life without being all touchy-feely. But look for other ways to show loved ones you care. They'll very much appreciate it.
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