If you and your partner are beginning to drift away from one another, one of the first things you may notice is a lack of affection. Affection is very important in keeping us bonded and connected throughout the hardship and adversity that life brings our way. To preserve our relationship, we have to lean back into our sense of affection and discover more effective ways to remind one another that we care.
Affection requires communication.
Our romantic relationships are friendships with extra levels of intimacy, affection, effort, and understanding. These extra levels come with some extra responsibilities and excess needs. When we love someone we have to reaffirm this love through intimacy and affection, but this in itself is a many-tiered process and one which requires (first and foremost) active communication.
Communication in a relationship transcends simple words. While we should be able to open up to our partners, affection cannot occur in the realm of words alone. We also display our affection through the action — a dynamic form of communication that allows us to send affectionate messages loud and clear.
Has the affection disappeared in your relationship? Does your partner accuse you of not caring about them, or the life you’re building? You can remind them just how much you do care with simple and mindful actions that carry great meaning. Open up to them, listen actively to them, and reach out a helping hand even when they haven’t asked for it. It isn’t hard to remind someone you love them — something we should try to do every day.
Why affection disappears.
Affection (like many other things in this life) is an organic component of healthy relationships which must be consciously nourished and cultivated. When we don’t pay attention to the way we communicate care for one another, we can find it disappearing (and our relationship disappearing with it). Knowing why we struggle with affection is a starting point in restoring it.
Power dynamics are important in our relationships, and it’s important that we find a balance that works. When these dynamics become one-sided — or one partner starts doing all the taking while the other gives and gives — we can find negative feelings growing in the divide between partners. As this space grows, it becomes harder and harder to trust and reconnect.
Getting too comfortable
Believe it or not, getting too comfortable in a relationship can be a bad thing. We need to keep the spice and the passion alive, or we risk going onto autopilot and losing touch with the love we share. We turn inward and become so focused on our patterns and routines, and in that we forget to show our gratitude and our genuine appreciation for one another.
Struggles in mental health
Millions of people around the globe battle with their mental health every day. These are challenging times. When we allow our mental health to decay, or we lose access to our care options, it can cause serious disruptions in the stability of our relationships. Struggles in mental health drive us deeper into our own pain and further away from the people who want to help us most.
Our emotions are important, and they form an important base of our bonds with others. We have to be honest about the way we feel and address bad feelings as they arise (and they will arise). When negative feelings get ignored, they fester and turn into resentment. This creates an even bigger sore in your partnership, and can also lead to and erosion of intimacy and even an erosion of commitment and trust.
We are humans and we all grow and change over time. It’s natural, and the changes we undergo are natural too. We have to embrace these changes and be honest with our partners as they happen. Sometimes, we find that we need different boundaries. Maybe we also discover changes in personality and needs. Sharing these shifting needs with our partners allows us to stay connected in passion and mutual understanding.
Security and stability is crucial when it comes to building trust and commitment with our partner. When we don’t trust our partner, we don’t open up to them and we don’t move toward them with compassion or with understanding. Whether personal insecurities get in the way, or betrayals of trust (like infidelity) stir the waters — struggles with trust always equal issues in affection and care.
More meaningful ways to show your partner that you care.
Don’t simply trust that your partner inherently knows how much you love them. Show them how much you care every day by taking meaningful action in the name of their happiness and the life that you’re building together.
1. Become an active listener
We live in a world that really encourages us to speak our minds and do it often. This has encouraged the narrative to become all about me-me-me. It’s easy to fall into the trap of a one-sided relationship, and it’s even easier to get caught up in the stress and pressure of your own life. We have to get outside of this urge to talk about our lives, though, and become active listeners in our partnerships.
Stop talking at your partner and start listening to them instead. Notice the way you monopolize conversation, or the tendency you have to talk about your problems and the things that are going on in your life. Make space for them. Get curious about their life and their perspective day-to-day.
Ask your partner how they’re doing and listen to them when they respond. Put yourself in their shoes as they describe the emotions they go through in a day, or the challenging experiences they have. Empathize with them. Agree when they hit the right points, nod your head, and show you’re engaged with what they’re saying. When appropriate, ask them questions and be an active part of the conversation they’re having with you.
2. Help them with little things
Unrequested help is one of the most powerful ways to say “I love you,” in action and deed alone. We all have pressures and responsibilities that we’re dealing with on a personal level, even when we’re in a relationship. Having a partner that’s willing to reach out a helping hand (even when you don’t ask for it) makes you feel as though you’re being considered and looked out for — without needing to beg for that help.
If you’re in a better place mentally and physically than your partner, reach out and help them with the small things they may be struggling with. Cook dinner for them. Do a few loads of laundry or put the dishes through the wash. Small deeds can demonstrate big love and take little effort on our end.
Be creative and don’t wait for them to ask. Get outside of your head for a little while and notice what’s going on around you. Is your loved one stressed? Are they struggling to keep their head above water, or dealing with a to-do list that’s stacking up? Unasked, stand up and take action for them. While our partners can’t carry the load for us, they can help support us (in word and deed) when times get tough.
3. Communicate intentionally
No relationship has been able to stand the test of time without honest communication and partners who are willing to facilitate that communication. We have to be open with one another, and we have to want that openness from a genuine place. If you truly want your partner to know how much you care about them, then open up and start talking to one another.
Go out of your way to have face-to-face conversations with your loved one. Don’t only approach them when you need or want something from them. Sit down over coffee in the mornings and share with each other. Come home each night and spend 10–15 minutes telling each other about your day.
Communicate with intention. Communicate when your feelings are hurt, or when you feel negative emotions like anger or jealousy. Sharing with our partners shows that we trust them, and that we’re willing to be vulnerable with them. This is a powerful bonding agent that can help us to stay focused on one another whenever we hit the hard moments together.
4. Make them laugh
Laughter is such a powerful balm when it comes to healing the wounds and damage in our relationship. It’s a simple action, but one that we often lose touch with as time goes on and we lose sight of one another. Want to remind your partner just how special they are to you? Go out of your way to make them laugh and reintroduce joy into your partnership.
Stop taking everything so seriously. When you take yourself too seriously, you can distance yourself from your partner and everyone else that matters. When you take your relationship too seriously, likewise, you can push your loved one right out of the door by rushing and shoving them.
If the pressure starts growing, take a step back and try to find the lighter side in a heavy moment. Crack a joke (not at your partner’s expense) and remember to laugh with one another as much as you cry together. That’s how we find the balance, and through that the relationships which bring us harmony and long-lasting happiness. Laughter is often the best way to remind our partner of our affection.
5. Do new things together
Believe it or not, experience is one of the best ways to bond us as partners and restore our affection for one another. We can do this by trying new things together, or by going out of our way to make intentional time and space for one another. Once a week date-night is a great starting place, but it’s not enough if you want to meaningfully restore your affection for one another.
Do new things together and reinvigorate your partnership by reigniting the passion. Break out of the rut and get out of the same-old-same-old place you’re stuck in. Put yourselves out there by putting your feet on unfamiliar ground.
Breaking out of our normal routines and experiences allows us to wake up, be present, and really re-engage with one another. It makes us interested. It can inspire us. It shakes the cage a little and allows you both to try out new skills. It also can be a powerful reminder of why you came together in the first place. Try new things and remind each other just how much you really care.
Putting it all together…
It’s important for us to show our partner that we care about them each and every day. Without communicating our love through intentional affection, we can find ourselves drifting away from the person that we love most. Get your partnership back on track by finding more meaningful ways to show your partner that you’re present and that you care.
Become an active listener and let your partner know how much you love them by encouraging them to open up to you. Ask them questions and communicate with them willingly and with intention. Reach out and help them with the little things (unasked). Love lies more in our actions than our words. Make your partner laugh when times get tough and be there for them when the stress and the pressure mounts too high. Do new things together and have fun exploring the life that you’re building with one another. By discovering what life means together, you can reunite side by side in a united drive toward the future.