The role of emotional connections between romantic partners is well understood in psychology, but little is known about the physical affection side of the equation. However, in everyday life, everyone can attest to the mental, if not physical, health benefits of kissing a loved one.
Physical Affection Meaning
It’s best defined as “any touch intended to arouse feelings of love in the giver and/or recipient,” according to the Brigham Young team. The researchers decided to exclude sexual intimacy, which isn’t explicitly aimed at arousing “feelings of love,” from the classification scheme for physical affection in general.
Craving Physical Affection
The first and most obvious reason you may be craving physical affection is a lack of it in your life. You may have been lonely for a time, lacking both a physical and emotional connection. During the recent pandemic, many people experienced this.
Wanting love and affection can be caused by more than just wanting to be touched. Even if you have people who love and care for you, you may still be unable to satisfy your cravings. In this case, your desire for affection could be a symptom of something more serious.
When You Grow Up Without affection
People with intense cravings for physical affection frequently do not receive appropriate respect as children. Unfortunately, these people may live believing they do not deserve to be held, loved, or appreciated. This can lead to them seeking self-love from other people to heal their wounds and compensate for the lack of affection.
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On the other hand, love cravings can result from attachment dysregulation or love addiction, which involves obsessive behaviors toward other people. It usually stems from childhood survival patterns or a particularly stressful situation where you must learn to tolerate feelings of neglect and abandonment.
What Do You Do When You Crave Affection?
Learning about yourself and why you’ve grown to crave attention obsessively is an excellent first step toward developing more stable relationships. You can try to do this on your own or consult an experienced relationship coach who can assist you in understanding and beginning to heal your wounds. As you practice self-love and acceptance, you will start to rely less on others and more on yourself for affection, laying a healthier foundation for future relationships.
How Do I Stop Craving Love and Affection?
Fortunately, there are numerous ways to curb your love cravings and rely less on others. Here are some pointers:
#1. List your favorite hobbies.
Consider this: what do you enjoy doing on your own? What brings you joy? Make a list of your favorite hobbies and interests, no matter what they are. Recognize them and consider what else you’d like to try.
#2. Identify what you admire about yourself.
Write down what you like about yourself, whether it’s physical or character-related. What makes you unique? Are you kind, compassionate, or trustworthy? Or are you logical, driven, and accountable? Whatever it is, instead of dwelling on your flaws, concentrate on the positive aspects of your personality.
#3. Improve what you can.
Consider what you can and cannot change about your life. Make peace with what you can control and improve what you can’t. Assume you want to improve your job performance but have no control over how your boss treats you. In that case, you’d work hard to improve your skills and establish healthy workplace boundaries. Then, if necessary, move on to another job after you’ve learned how to be your own advocate in the workplace by setting healthy boundaries.
#4. Take it easy.
It takes time and effort to regain confidence and learn to love yourself. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to change and instead concentrate on one step at a time. Doing everything at once can be overwhelming and even lead to the abandonment of your journey. Instead, take it slow with yourself and your relationships and give yourself time to heal.
Physical Affection Love Language
There are numerous ways to express your love for your partner. You can show up to show your support at an important fundraiser. You can purchase a gift for them simply because you thought of them. When they are having a stressful day, you can squeeze their hand.
According to Dr. Gary Chapman’s book “The 5 Love Languages,” physical affection is only one of the five love languages. Words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, and gift-giving/receiving are the others. All five are essential, but because we all give and receive love differently, knowing what you and your partner prefer will help you express your gratitude in the best way possible.
Understand Physical Affection as a Love Language
If physical affection is your love language, you prefer physical expressions of love over all other terms (such as verbal compliments or gifts).
It is important to note that physical affection as a love language is not solely about sex, though sex can be an essential aspect of a romantic relationship. A hug, a shoulder squeeze, a handhold, or even a pat on the back can be equally meaningful expressions of love to your partner.
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Don’t be concerned if you’re in a non-sexual relationship or unable to have sex with your partner for any reason (distance, postpartum, PTSD). We look at simple ways to give and receive physical affection with your partner, no matter where you are (physically or mentally). This may seem obvious, but intimate and non-intimate touches can and should be used to express your love for your partner.
Show Love Through Intimate Touch
Most romantic relationships use sexual expressions of love, but what if you live more than 100 miles away from your partner? What if you and your partner are both looking forward to having sex? What if you’re not a sensitive person? Furthermore, what if sexual intimacy causes you mental strain?
Regardless of what you’ve heard about romantic love, sex isn’t everything in a relationship. Yes, it is significant, but it is not the only physical manifestation of love.
“Physical affection, particularly cuddling,” says Clarissa Silva, a behavioral scientist and relationship coach, “releases oxytocin, the feel-good hormone that makes you feel like nothing can hurt you.” “Cuddling not only strengthens the bond between the couple, but it also helps boost your immune system.”
Ways to Show Physical Affection
Here are some examples of how to express intimate love through physical affection:
You might think that kissing has to lead to sex, but it doesn’t. Kissing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to show your partner that you care about them physically. You can kiss their lips, neck, cheek, forehead, and hand. Kissing is or has been shown as an act of respect, greeting, or affection in many cultures and throughout history. Kissing is used in all types of relationships, both romantic and non-romantic, and it should be prioritized.
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#2. Holding hands
Who doesn’t enjoy seeing a couple walking down the street hand in hand? Holding hands with your partner, whether in public or in private, is a simple gesture that can instantly release mood-boosting endorphins. Parents frequently have their child’s hands for both protective and physical reasons. It is one of the most effective ways to express physical affection to your partner.
Do you snuggle up with your partner while watching a movie? When are you sleeping? You should if you don’t already. Wrapping your arms around your partner can bring you physically and emotionally closer. Your partner may prefer to be the “big” or “little” spoon, but try switching roles or facing each other to see how it feels.
#4. Skin-to-skin touch
Touching can be sexual or non-sexual and still be intimate. An intimate expression of love can be dragging your fingertips across your partner’s back or neck. Touching your partner’s hair, the back of their neck, or even their bare leg can be an expressive way of telling them you’re there for them, physically attracted to them, and/or in love with them.
#5. Rubbing the back of your partner
Touching a friend who is going through a difficult or upsetting situation is a natural reaction, and this type of touch can be just as effective in a romantic relationship. Rubbing or massaging your partner’s back can communicate that you are there for them and love them. You can also massage their arm, hand, or another part of their body. Just ensure you’re communicating with your partner and that they’re okay with it.
#6. Sitting side-by-side
Sitting close enough to touch your partner is a simple way to express your love for them. Maybe you’re out to dinner or at an event and want to show your partner you care, but you don’t feel comfortable kissing or holding their hand. A nonverbal way of connecting with your partner is to sit with your hips or feet touching.
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Some people dislike being tickled, but tickling is a physical manifestation of love. Are you unsure if your partner will like this? You only need to ask. Even if your love language is physical touch, communication is essential in any successful relationship.
One of the advantages of being in a relationship with someone whose love language is physical affection is that you can express your feelings without having to speak, do the dishes, or go out and buy a gift. Physical touch is one of the simplest ways to be intimate with your partner, and despite its physical nature, it can foster emotional intimacy.
Types of Physical Affection
The seven types of physical affection are as follows:
- Holding hands
- Kissing on the lips
- Kissing on the face
All forms of physical affection, except holding hands and caressing/stroking, were strongly related to the participant’s level of satisfaction with the relationship and the partner in the Brigham Young sample. There was no relationship between the amount of physical affection and the amount of conflict, but cuddling/holding, kissing on the lips, and hugging were all related to how easily the couple resolved the dispute that they did experience.
Physical affection is often required for romantic relationships to thrive, but sex isn’t the only way to show your partner how much you love them. In the kitchen, you can wrap your arms around their waist, hold their hand while watching a movie, or kiss their cheek before work. When it comes to physical affection, the simplest acts of love can have the greatest impact.
Frequently Asked Questions
What physical affection do guys like?
Men require affection and love.
In layman’s terms, men frequently feel most loved by the women in their lives when they are hugged, kissed, smiled at, and explicitly offered gratitude, praise, and words of affection. On average, men feel more loved and connected through sexuality than women.
Why physical affection is important?
Touch can strongly convey a sense of acceptance and care—the emotional benefits. Touch has physiological benefits as well. In one study, partners with higher levels of physical touch, such as hand holding or hugging, had lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
What are signs of affection?
6 Body Language Signs That Someone Loves You
- Proximity. When someone is in love, they will try to close the distance between you as much as possible.
- Make direct eye contact.
- Protective gesture
What is considered physical intimacy?
Physical intimacy is defined by body contact and proximity. It could include holding hands, cuddling, kissing, and having sex in a romantic relationship. Physical intimacy does not require a sexual or romantic relationship. A warm, tight hug with a friend is an example of physical intimacy.