You may have a ton of things in common with your partner — favorite foods, similar morals, a love for stupid movies. But even when most things feel so right, it's not always common to see eye to eye when it comes to being more affectionate in your relationship.
That's because everyone views and expresses love differently. Think of your current partner, or people you have dated in the past. You have probably had some partners who weren't so much up for a hug, but were totally down to cook you food, or do you favors. And that's fine, as it can be nice to show, and be shown, love in different ways. But if your partner's version of affection doesn't match up at all with yours, then some problems can start to bubble up.
So how do you define affection? Most of the time, it's a physical thing. That's because touch releases some pretty powerful hormones that we often connect to the feelings of love. As Kory Floyd, Ph.D., said on Psychology Today, "One of the reasons why hugging, holding hands, and touching feel good to us is that these behaviors elevate our level of oxytocin, a hormone that reduces pain and causes a calming sensation." No wonder you want to cuddle up and kiss your SO.
If you and your partner aren't agreeing on such things, of if you've been feeling a little neglected, then here are some ways to get your partner to be more affectionate, every day.
1. Identify Your Love Language
Like I said above, not every couple matches up perfectly when it comes to expressing love. You may be the super touchy-feely type, while your partner prefers to show love with gifts, or sweet words. It can work out fine, but it can also end up leaving one or both of you feeling rejected, or kind of confused. So take some time to figure out your love languages, as they can be pretty revealing. According to Dr. Gary Chapman, there are five ways people show love: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. Find out which styles float around in your relationship, and then make time to give each other what you need.
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2. Share Those Feels
If you aren't feeling the love, and it's bothering you, then take some time to talk it out with your partner. "Be honest, and try not to criticize who [they are] or what [they do] — instead express to [them] what you need with genuineness and vulnerability," suggested Christine Switzer on the health site Livestrong.com. Hopefully your partner will be willing to kick the affection up a notch, if they know it'll make you happy.
3. Be More Affectionate Yourself
Perhaps your partner wants to be more affectionate, but doesn't really know how to start. If you suspect that's the case, start doing sweet things first, and see if it gets things going in the right direction, suggested relationship expert Elizabeth Stone on TinyBuddha.com. Leave loving notes, make him or her breakfast, or be the one to reach for their hand. It will let them know you're keen on having more affectionate, while showing them exactly how to do it.
4. Reinforce Positive Behavior
OK, this one may sound a bit weird, but it works. All you have to do is "reward" your SO the next time they are just the right amount of sweet. "In psychology, reinforcement is a method that uses a 'stimulus' (e.g. gestures, words, rewards, food, etc.) to increases the probability of a behavior. Basically, it is giving another person something, after they perform a behavior, that makes them want to do it again," said Jeremy Nicholson, M.S.W., Ph.D, on Psychology Today. It could be as simple as thanking your SO, or letting them know they're appreciated.
5. Talk With Your Partner About Their Feelings
Sometimes people don't want to be affectionate because of past relationships issues or mental health struggles, so it's important to know what's going on inside your SO's head. As Switzer said, "The more you can learn about where [they are] coming from and what [they are] comfortable with in the area of physical affection, the better you will be able to work together toward a solution that meets both of your needs." And what could be better than that?
6. Show All Your Appreciation
Another way to show your partner what you like is by showing appreciation for their efforts — maybe with a hug, or a kiss, or by straight up saying you appreciate them. As Stone said, "Appreciation is key to positively reinforcing someone’s attempts to get closer to us."
7. Be Receptive To Their Affection
Of course affection isn't all up to one person — it's definitely a two way street, as they say. So be ready to accept any forms of love that are heading your way. As Stone said, "If we acknowledge and then open ourselves to connecting with others, it’s clearly going to foster more connection than if we are aware but not receptive."
8. Set Aside Time For Lovin'
It may sound kind of cheesy at first, but you may want to think about scheduling in some love. I know, it sounds terribly unromantic to put this kind of thing on your calendar, but it can guarantee that everyone gets what they want and need. It can also help spark a tradition of ongoing date nights. Sounds pretty good, right?
9. Ask For A Back Rub
This is a sneaky way of fixing your messed up shoulders from sitting at your desk all day, while also upping your affection levels. According to Susan Krauss Whitborne, Ph.D., on Psychology Today, a 2003 study from Brigham Young University defined affection as "any touch intended to arouse feelings of love in the giver and/or recipient." Back rubs and massage were on the list of affectionate gestures, as well as hugging and holding hands, among others. The study showed participants related massages strongly to the degree of satisfaction they felt with their partner, as this type of touch helped them feel more loved and understood. Why not give one a try?
10. Give Flirting A Try
Just because this person is already your partner doesn't mean you guys can't be all silly and flirty around each other. Not only is flirting fun, but it may even bring you both back to earlier times in your relationship when more affection likely existed. It's definitely worth a try.
11. Cuddle Up For Some Netflix
Mundane tasks, such as watching a little TV, are a great excuse to show each other some love. Cuddling up under a blanket while watching a scary movie is pretty much the perfect recipe for some quality relationship time. Just remember not to push the subject if your partner isn't comfortable. As always, talk with them about what makes them feel most comfortable, and go from there.
That's the most important thing to keep in mind — this relationship is both yours and your partner's. If there's a major lack of affection going on, try to get to the bottom of the issue, while also being open about your expectations. Hopefully you can work it out, so that everyone is happy.
Images: Pexels (12); Isla Murray/Bustle