Relationships Spouses & Partners How to Be More Affectionate By Ariane Resnick, CNC Ariane Resnick, CNC Facebook Ariane Resnick, CNC is a mental health writer, certified nutritionist, and wellness author who advocates for accessibility and inclusivity. Learn about our editorial process Updated on September 01, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD Medically reviewed by Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD LinkedIn Twitter Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and a professor at Yeshiva University’s clinical psychology doctoral program. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print MoMo Productions / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents How to Be More Affectionate Characteristics of Affectionate People Benefits Potential Pitfalls FAQ Affection is one of the most straightforward ways that we show our loved ones we care for them and it can be expressed in many different ways. Affection Affection refers to a fondness or liking for someone. However, many people use commonly think of it as loving physical touch. Some people offer affection through touch, while others say nice things, write sweet notes, or plan quality time with their loved ones. Affectionate touch is important for the well-being of children and adults alike. If you struggle to give affection, it can be challenging to know what to do to become more affectionate. But it's worth the effort: In as much as a lack of affection leads to sadness and loneliness, more affection makes us happier people who are more resilient to stress. How to Be More Affectionate Being more affectionate can improve your relationships, but it can be hard to know where to begin, especially if you come from a family background that didn't offer much affection. If you want to be more affectionate, here are some methods you can employ to become more affectionate. Learn Your Love Language It's believed that there are five different ways people prefer to give and receive love. These include words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts. You can learn your love language by discerning which you most prefer to do or have done for you. Once you are more clear about that, it can become easier to lean into the ways that you most naturally show affection. Knowing more about yourself can lead to stronger comfort and relaxation, which in turn can make affection feel less stressful for you. You can also ask your loved ones how they prefer to receive love and then aim to show them the type of affection that they desire. Share Your Feelings No good comes from struggling alone. In fact, the act of sharing your feelings with others you feel safe with has been proven to reduce stress. Be Honest If Sharing Your Feelings Is Tough If you know that your partner, family, or friends would like you to be more affectionate, but you're finding it difficult, the best step to take to get started is to tell them about how it's hard for you. Entering this conversation after having learned about your love language is helpful because it shows this is a topic you care about and have looked into, and you can discuss what you've learned as well as how you'll use that knowledge to be more affectionate. Make a Conscientious Effort to Be More Physical It might seem counterintuitive because it doesn't feel natural, but sometimes the only way to move through a difficult task is simply to do it. Chances are that you have the ability to enjoy giving and receiving physical touch. Here are some things you can try: Link arms with your best friend when you're taking a walkOffering your child a hugCuddle with your partner(s) when you're watching a movie What's most important when you begin doing these things is to be mindful and notice how these acts make you feel. Hugs relieve stress, but benefits go beyond that—they make our immune systems stronger, too. if you pay attention to how you feel when you hug someone, you'll likely notice how wonderful it feels. Then, once you realize that, you might do it more often until it feels more natural to you. Reminder Before engaging in physical contact, make sure you have consent to do so! Once, you have consent, feel free to enjoy being physically affectionate with loved ones and friends. Set Time Aside For Your Loved Ones Every relationship needs time spent together to flourish. Quality time is the act of being present and engaged when you spend time with someone. Quality time does not include sitting next to each other in the same room but you're both on your phone. Even if quality time isn't your love language, spending more time with people can help you be more affectionate. That's because by being present and engaged, you'll become closer to your loved ones. And by becoming closer to someone, you care more about their needs. If you're a very busy person who's short on time, don't fear that you have to change your schedule entirely to accommodate quality time with a loved one. This is more about intention and quality than quantity. Whatever amount of time you know you can be present for is the right amount to start with. Practice On People You Feel Most Safe With When creating positive changes in our lives, we're best served to start taking new actions with the people we feel the safest with. That's because you remove a lot of stress and worry about what someone will think of you when you already trust and know that someone loves and accepts you. If you've been clear to someone and had the conversation about affection being a challenge for you, and that conversation went well, you should be able to feel safe with them in practicing affection. You Can Schedule Affection You can even speak with your loved ones and schedule time for affection. Maybe you'll ask for a hug each day or maybe you'll text your mother or your partner "goodnight" more often. Characteristics of Affectionate People You might not realize all of the ways that becoming more affectionate can improve your life. Let's look at the differences between people who show affection to others, and people who don't. Affectionate Have higher self-esteem Experience less depression Are perceived as loving Experience less stress Have stronger immune systems Not Affectionate Have lower self-esteem Experience more depression Are perceived as not loving Experience more stress Have weaker immune systems Benefits of Becoming More Affectionate There are many benefits of expressing and receiving affection. These are some of the most common ones: It increases oxytocin levels: The bonding chemical oxytocin is notoriously a key factor in a new couple growing close and moving through a honeymoon phase.This chemical, which our bodies release through physical touch and love, makes people feel connected to others. It reduces stress: Cortisol is the key hormone related to our bodies' stress response, and by helping us to reduce stress, affection lowers our cortisol levels. This is beneficial because people with elevated cortisol levels tend to experience more health issues, such as depression. Affection is great for mental health: People in affectionate relationships experience less mental health issues like anxiety and depression compared to those who are in more antagonistic relationships. If these aren't issues you contend with regularly, affection will help them remain at bay. It can improve physical health: If a simple hug can help your immune symptom and reduce illness severity,just imagine how much that can aid in your long-term wellness! Potential Pitfalls of Being Less Affectionate Because being affectionate is healthy for you and for those you love, there are downsides to not being affectionate. These are common ones: Increased stress: Affection reduces stress by increasing our happy chemicals, so not giving and receiving affection means that you could end up feeling more stressed than you would if you were more affectionate.Lower immunity: Affection helps our immune system to work better, so not being affectionate means that your immune system may be less strong than that of people who give and receive affection. So, if giving hugs boosts immunity, not giving or receiving them impact your overall physical health.Less satisfaction: If you crave more affection and you don't receive it, you will likely feel dissatisfied in your personal relationship. Can You Be Too Affectionate? It's possible to get too much of a good thing. You should avoid going too far to the other side and forcing your affection onto other people, as that can be invasive and unwelcome. Additionally, others could feel smothered by your physical touch. Balance is everything! Frequently Asked Questions Frequently Asked Questions Why is it hard for me to be affectionate? It might be challenging for you to show affection because your own family wasn't very affectionate. Or, you may have trauma to work through that makes expressing affection hard. It's also possible that you just naturally aren't someone who expresses their love for others through affection.Speaking to a mental health professional can help you explore this further. What should I do if my partner is not affectionate enough? In order to fix a problem, you have to acknowledge it. Speak with your partner about how their lack of affection impacts you.One example of a way to tell someone that their lack of affection is bothering you is to say, "I have been feeling sad because I need more affection than I'm receiving in this relationship. It would make me really happy if you were willing to work on becoming more affectionate."If this still doesn't produce the results you're looking for, it might help to enlist the help of a sex/relationship therapist. A Word From Verywell Embarking on any journey of self-change can be daunting, but you don't have to do it alone. Therapy can help, and if you're experiencing the desire to be more affectionate in the context of a romantic relationship, speaking to a therapist who specializes in relationships can be particularly helpful for you. 7 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Dictionary.com. Affection. Jakubiak BK, Feeney BC. Affectionate touch to promote relational, psychological, and physical well-being in adulthood: a theoretical model and review of the research. 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