11 Old Wives' Tales About What Makes People Affectionate That Are Actually True
For many couples, affection can be one of the most important aspects of a relationship. It's in these sweet little moments — like when you're kissing each other goodbye in the morning, cuddling before falling asleep, or making an effort to catch up after a long day — that a relationship is made stronger and more resilient. And that's why, over the years, there have been so many old wives' tales about how to build affection in a relationship, and keep that spark going.
"It’s easy for couples to drift apart as jobs, children, hobbies, and other factors stop partners from spending quality time together. Over time, this can cause people who were once madly in love to turn into 'just friends' or even enemies," certified counselor Jonathan Bennett tells Bustle. "Creating affection, especially doing little things for your partner on a regular basis, is a good way to stay emotionally and physically connected to your partner. While some old-fashioned advice is sexist or useless in the modern world, a lot of it has stuck around over the years because it’s effective. Just because it’s old doesn’t automatically mean it’s outdated."
So, let's take a walk down memory lane and look back on age-old advice that's not only turned out to be true, but also incredibly helpful when it comes to creating more affection in a relationship.
1. Focus On The Little Things
"It's the little things that count" is an age old piece of advice that can still serve as a healthy reminder today. "Making your partner feel loved isn’t all about grand gestures," says Bennett. "Something as simple as making [your partner] coffee in the morning or always making sure to say 'I love you' before you separate can have a huge impact." So when it comes to giving and receiving more affection in your relationship, remember to focus on the little things.
2. It's All About The Hand-Written Note
It's been said that nothing beats a hand-written note when it comes to showing affection. And, even in a day when most of our communication is electronic, this still seems to be true.
"Taking the time to write a letter is a great gesture of affection," Bennett says. "Although texting is easier, writing an actual note shows that you’re willing to go the extra mile in terms of time and energy. Plus, there’s something very cute and sweet about receiving a handwritten note from your [partner]." To follow this old time-y tradition, simply write little love notes and tuck them somewhere for your partner to find, like in their coat pocket. So sweet.
3. Always Stand By Each Other
Have you ever heard the saying that it's important to stand by your partner, no matter what? "While this should never be taken as an absolute (like sticking around for abuse), standing up for your partner in difficult times is a great way to show your love and affection," Bennett says. It shows you've got their back. And hopefully, they've got yours.
4. Compliment Each Other
It may seem old school to compliment your partner. And yet, doing so can foster more affection in a relationship. "While you may settle into a relationship that is very loving, it is easy to forget to tell your partner how great they are," spiritual counselor and psychic Davida Rappaport tells Bustle. "Tell them they made a terrific batch of cookies. If they found a great a new restaurant, tell them thank you and that this should be on the list of your favorite places to eat out. There are many ways to compliment your partner." Just make sure they're genuine, and you'll feel closer than ever.
5. Never Go To Bed Angry
Nothing kills affection quite like an argument, especially if it happens right before bed. And that's exactly why couples have always been given the advice to "never go to bed angry."
"Sometimes going to sleep angry can only make things worse," therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW tells Bustle. "If you are able to talk it out and come to a resolution or compromise before going to sleep, it could help create more affection." And make for a better night's sleep.
If you can't reach a resolution, however, it is OK to press pause for the evening and pick up where you left off in the morning. By promising to hear each other out, you can effectively go to bed in a calmer state, and resume the debate once you've both cooled off.
6. Play Together To Stay Together
The ol' saying "the couple who plays together stays together" is definitely worth bearing in mind. "If you don’t play with your partner, you may be missing out on opportunities to strengthen affection," clinical psychologist Dr. Josh Klapow, host of The Web radio show, tells Bustle. "Playing board games, sports, and going to events that you enjoy each as individuals and together as a couple associates 'good times' with the relationship. As long as the play is for you as much as it is for them and that you both enjoy it, you will see that your good times and their good times together creates more affection for one another."
7. Touch As Often As Possible
The more often you can be physical with each other — kissing, hugging, cuddling, etc. — the more affection you'll create. "Simple touches can be the glue that keeps affection strong and alive," Klapow says. "A touch on the shoulder, a gentle pat on the leg, or the small of their back, or leaning into them for just a moment — all without expectations of [sex] — shows that you are drawn to them, that you need them in contact with you, and that you love them. It’s not always the kiss or the hug. It might be the pat on the shoulder that creates the moment of affection."
8. Always Kiss Each Other Goodbye
Similarly, there's something to be said for always kissing each other goodbye before heading off to work. "Physical touch is a great way to feel closer to a partner, and even a small gesture such as a kiss will help create more affection," Hershenson says. It also helps to start and end your day by acknowledging each other in this simple way, so that you can feel more connected.
9. The Eyes Are The Gateway To The Soul
We've all heard the old saying "the eyes are the gateway to the soul." And, as it turns out, it's true. "Eye contact is the most personal of any sort of visual connection," Klapow says. So the more you can engage in eye contact in your relationship, the more affection you'll have.
"Look into your partner's eyes as you are talking to them," Klapow says. "Look into their eyes when you give a compliment and what you are saying is that you are fully engaged with them in that moment. It will demonstrate that the conversation means more than the words."
10. Ask About Their Day
Relationship advice that's focused on creating affection has always included this tip, since reconnecting after a long day is one of the best ways to bring you back together as a couple. So go ahead and ask your partner about their day, and tell them about yours.
"When you and your partner share your day-to-day ups and downs, this helps to create a stronger bond," Rappaport says. "When partners share their thoughts, [and] feelings, whether it was a good day or an exceptional day at work, this will help bring you closer. It is important to keep your lines of communication open, clear, and supportive, as this fosters longevity in your relationship."
11. Always Give A Heartfelt Apology
Back in the day, it was expected that partners would bring their significant other something special after having a big argument, as a way to apologize. And this tactic can still come in handy today, if you feel the situation warrants it.
"Sometimes an apology is not enough, especially if your partner has a hard time letting their anger, frustration, or emotional pain go," Rappaport says. "A great present — flowers, or something they have wanted for a long time but never ended up buying — can help smooth any rough patches."
Of course, you still need to work out the issue and apologize verbally. But a gift can be the proverbial cherry on top. "Making that extra effort to apologize, especially if you know your partner loves what you get them, will help mend hurt feelings and generate more affection," Rappaport says.
Old myths like these often get left in the past, usually because they're outdated, sexist, or just don't work. But many pieces of relationship advice can stand the test of time and, like these, are proven to be true time and again.