These 13 Small, Clever Tweaks Will Help Your Partner Be More Affectionate With You
Everyone's different when it comes to showing the love in their relationship. Some people could hug their partner all day long, while others need a bit more space. And that's OK. There really is no right or wrong, so it's important to do whatever feels right for you and your partner. But if you're feeling a bit disconnected, and you'd want your partner to be more affectionate, there are some ways you can increase intimacy with just a few simple tweaks.
Even though affection may not be the glue that binds every couple together, there's a reason why so many of us crave it. "Affection can totally strengthen and improve the relationship," dating and relationship coach Carla Romo tells Bustle. "One of the most common reasons couples start to feel distance between one another is the lack of affection in the relationship."
It's a problem many couples experience, especially if they've been together awhile. "Relationships go through different phases of affection just as the relationship goes through different stages, like the honeymoon phase," Romo says. "Once the honeymoon phase of affection wears off, it is important to reestablish the needs and wants for one another's affection in order to continually grow and build a bond." Here are a few simple ways experts say it's possible to increase the amount of affection in your relationship, and thus feel closer as a couple.
1. Talk About Your Day In Bed
If you're used to talking about your day whilst milling around the house or making dinner, why not save it for a time when you can give each other undivided attention?
"Many couples talk about their day, but often times it isn’t intimate conversation," intimacy expert Miyoko Rifkin tells Bustle. "To change up your daily download, try lying next to each other in bed, or sitting face-to-face on the floor, dedicating all your time at that moment to not only listening, but seeing your partner."
While you don't have to catch up this way every day, doing so a few times a week can improve your connection. "This can take as little as a few minutes, or an hour, but giving your partner your presence and making them feel seen will do wonders to create intimacy," Rifkin says. "You’ll see their facial reactions and body language as they tell their stories or share their feelings." And they'll, of course, see yours.
2. Be More Honest About How You Feel
You can start to make intimacy and affection a normal part of your lives by talking about your feelings in as open a way as possible. As cognitive scientist Dr. Vijay Ram tells Bustle, "One of the most important things one can do is to become authentic in expressing how you feel around [your partner]. It's not about doing this only when you feel affectionate or romantic, but at other times as well."
Once it becomes routine, you might notice that your partner opens up more easily. To begin the habit, "start with accurately conveying what you truly feel about trivial things and work your way up," Ram says. "It's a skill."
3. Initiate Touch More Often
Depending on how your partner feels about being touched, you might consider adding more hugs into your day, as well as kisses, cuddles, etc. "Take their hand when you are walking, gently rub their back when you are waiting in line, initiate hugs and kiss good morning and good night," Rhonda Milrad, LCSW, relationship therapist and founder of Relationup, tells Bustle. "By setting this tone of being physically affectionate, they will feel cherished and will respond in kind."
4. Get Your PDA On
Again, depending on comfort levels, see how it feels to add in more public displays of affection, such as hand holding, while you're out and about. "PDA is a great way to stay connected with one another — especially if you've been together for a while — because you are connecting on a level of 'appropriate' public intimacy together," dating and relationship coach Carla Romo tells Bustle. "If you have been dating for some time this reinforces the connection you may have strongly had in the beginning."
5. Go On Aimless Walks
If you're used to sitting inside together, or ignoring each other while watching TV, it can help to add more romantic moments to your day, like aimless walks.
As Romo says, "We can become so busy that we forget a simple walk can be a great opportunity to focus on one another and spend intimate time together. Getting outside and walking together creates opportunity to have deep, meaningful conversations that you may not have chilling on your couch."
6. Take A "Love Languages" Quiz
If your relationship isn't as affectionate as you'd like it to be, it might be a sign that you and your partner show love in different ways. And one way to find out for sure is by taking a "Love Languages" quiz.
According to Dr. Gary Chapman, there are five love languages — words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, quality time, and receiving gifts — and they are the ways that people express their love, and interpret the feelings of others. Learning each other's love language can help bridge communication gaps, and lead to more intimacy.
"Take the quiz on Love Languages — a short easy quiz available online — and see which Love Language speaks loudest to your partner," couples and family therapist Tracy K. Ross, LCSW tells Bustle.
If it's revealed that your partner also loves physical touch, then add more of that into your lives. "Sit close to each other when you're watching TV, hold hands, look each other in the eyes when you talk," Ross says. If your partner's love language isn't physical touch, but yours is, let your partner know that is the way you most understand their love.
7. Create A Regular Date Night
Date nights can fall to the back burner as you get more comfortable with each other, so it's important to make an effort to bring 'em back and keep that romance alive. Date night can be as simple as "both of you snuggling in bed, watching a movie, and munching on some dark chocolate," Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert at Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. Or, it can be dinner at a restaurant, or a couple of drinks in a bar. Whatever you choose, it's "time where you can just be you, doing your thing, appreciating the other’s company." And once you can do that on the regular, more affection should follow.
8. Show Gratitude
It's also incredibly easy to forget to share aloud how much you mean to each other, so go ahead and bring that back, too. "At least once a day, show your gratitude by complimenting or acknowledging something that they have done from which you benefited directly or indirectly," Milrad says. "Expressing gratitude makes your partner feel appreciated and valued and this positive reinforcement not only results in them doing more thoughtful things, but also feeling good about giving in the relationship."
9. Share Your Food
It may sound silly, but there's something so loving about sharing food with someone you care about. As Backe says, "One plate of spaghetti, two forks. One sundae, two spoons. A glass of red wine with two straws. You get the idea."
Because, when you think about it, you don't share food with someone unless you really care about them. "Eating is a very sensual activity," Backe says. "And sharing your food has the potential to bring you closer together without even trying."
10. Give Each Other Pet Names
While not everyone's on board when it comes to pet names, the right one can be fun, funny, and even a little bit sexy. So come up with nicknames that feel right in your relationship, and try to use them more often.
"Whatever it is, it is a name which is special to you, and which you use to denote affection and closeness," Backe says. "It doesn’t necessarily have to be used in an intimate situation to achieve the purpose of increasing intimacy." It can just be something sweet you use throughout the day, to remind your partner that you love them.
11. Spend More Time Together
If your lives are super busy, affection can all too easily fall by the wayside. And that's why it can help to make an effort to spend more time together, even if it's just to have coffee in the morning before heading off to work.
"One of the biggest tweaks you can make to increase intimacy and affection is to increase the amount of time you spend together," couples consultant and coach Leslie Doares tells Bustle. "It is difficult to feel connected if you are never together ... setting aside at least 20 minutes a day to focus on each other (no distractions), going to bed at the same time [if you live together], engaging in a hobby together, reading the same book, etc., will keep the spark alive."
12. Give Them Positive Reinforcements
Whenever your is partner is affectionate, it can help to say out loud that you liked it as a way of encouraging more of the same. "Sometimes our partners aren't sure if we want to be touched, or want intimacy," author and sex educator Walker J. Thornton tells Bustle. "So we have to show them affection or that we're interested in some sort of intimate connection by touching them ourselves, asking for a hug or kiss or in some other way letting them know we're receptive — it gives a sign and signals our interest. Couples can go farther by telling a partner they liked the touch or kiss, or that hugging, cuddling or whatever has occurred, feels good. "
13. If All Else Fails, Talk About It
If you're craving more affection in your relationship, and these subtle tweaks haven't resulted in an noticeable uptick in intimate moments, then you need to let your partner know.
"The best thing to do if your needs are not being met in your relationship is to have and open and honest conversation regarding what’s missing, with the hope that your partner will hear what you’re saying and be willing to make some changes for you," professional counselor Heidi McBain, MA, LMFT, LPC, RPT tells Bustle. Let them know how important it is for you to see their love, to feel closer, and be more connected.
And once that's out in the air, you can figure out ways, together, to better meet each other's needs.