Reasons Behind Lack of Affection in a RelationshipFebruary 9, 2019 Dr. Shelley Sommerfeldt
Have you gone through periods in your relationship where you felt your partner wasnt as affectionate or addressing your needs for intimacy and comfort in the relationship? It can be quite normal in relationships for the level of physical affection and intimacy to vary. Relationships tend to ebb and flow when it comes to the intimacy level and closeness. People often worry that when their partner is not showing them physical intimacy, it means something bad about them or the relationship itself. While there are situations where that might be the case, there are also times that your partner may not be demonstrating affection and they have nothing to do with you or the health of your relationship.
Here are some reasons behind your partner not showing affection:
1. Different Boundaries & Personality:
People have some basic differences with the amount of affection that they are comfortable expressing. For example, when someone grows up in a family that did not show affection often, then they may feel more uncomfortable demonstrating physical affection in their relationship. This has nothing to do with their partner, but its simply a different boundary and comfort zone for the person. It is not something that they are used to or comfortable with. Personality also plays a role in peoples level of comfort with showing affection. Introverts may feel less comfortable with expressing affection, while extroverts show affection often and with ease.Its important that we have an understanding of our parnters comfort level. Another common theory showing a difference between partners is the 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. He explains that we have different ways in which we recieve and give love. For example, if your love language is physical affection and your partner is words of affirmation, then you may continually attempt physical touch with your partner as a way to demonstrate love, but they are desiring words of affirmation. This difference, therefore, can leave people leaving feeling unloved or lacking in affection. This is a simple difference that having an understanding between partners may help with.
2. Feeling Comfy:
It is common in relationships, that when a couple has been together for quite a while, they can feel very comfortable and forget the key aspects of courtship and affection. When we are first dating, there is often more attention placed on demonstrating affection. Once there is a comfort level established, it is common to not place as much effort in showing your partner affection. This is not necessarily due to not desiring your partner, but simply due to feeling very comfortable and not putting forth the same amount of effort and attention.Its important that we are continuously making that effort and putting forth time and dedication to our partnership as it is a key to happiness and relationship satisfaction.
3. Closed off to Intimacy:
For many people, showing affection is a very intimate act and when someone is feeling fearful or closed off to intimacy, then they will avoid initiating any affection altogether. This could be due to something that has happened to them previously, in other relationships, or even in childhood. The person may be more closed off and resistant to physical affection or even emotional vulnerability. People can often put up emotional barriers or walls to prevent being too open or vulnerable with someone else. This is an issue that is about them, their comfort level with intimacy and not their partner. It can be difficult for many people to show affection and not because they dont want to, but because it is very uncomfortable and difficult for them to do so.
Often, when we get caught up in focusing on other areas of our life, such as work, school, or social aspects, then we can unintentionally neglect other aspects of our life. This may not be due to not desiring our partner or the relationship, but simply because our attention is focused elsewhere. It is common that if one partner has something major happening in their life that is taking their full focus or creating high levels of stress, such as a major work project, then they can get off balance and forget to demonstrate affection with their partner. It really takes having a healthy balance and putting your partner and relationship as a priority to maintain physical affection, intimacy, and connection in the partnership.
5. Insecurities & Difficulty with Vulnerability:
There can be times when someone may not be feeling as secure or confident within themselves. This could be due to body image issues or just overall self-esteem. Many times when someone is not feeling confident, they will not want to initiate affection. Demonstrating affection does take courage and being vulnerable; therefore, if someone is not feeling brave or wanting to put themselves out there in a vulnerable way, then they will not be as willing to demonstrating affection. This again has to do with their own issues related to self-esteem and confidence and nothing to do with their partner.
6. Mental Health:
It is common that when someone is experiencing a disturbance in their emotional and mental health, they may not demonstrate as much affection as they would at other times. Some mental health examples include depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or even obsessive compulsive disorder. When someone is under distress due to an imbalance of emotions, then they are less like to show their partner affection. If you notice your partner is experiencing mental health symptoms, then it is important to talk with them about how they are feeling and ask if you can be of support or help them to seek professional help.
Although the reasons above demonstrate that the lack of affection in a relationship may not be due to a lack of love toward a partner or even an indication of the health of the relationship, often and over time, this lack of affection can be damaging to a partnership and have a direct impact on the happiness of the couple.
So what can you do?
Read more in our blog on Ways to Increase Affection in Your Relationship:
Online services are available
If you are needing support or are interested in relationship coaching, virtual services are available, see Online Coaching with Dr. Shelley. Services are provided by telephone or online through a HIPAA-compliant telehealth portal, which allows you to be in the comfort of your own home during sessions & has increased privacy. Sessions are available for individuals or couples. Appointments can be booked online or simply email Dr. Shelley with any questions or appointment requests.
Free Facebook Group About Relationships
If youd like to hear more on relationship topics and tips for couples, be sure to JOIN our free and closed Facebook group called The Couples Collaborative. This is an online support group that is closed and private. It provides tips and inspirational material for couples as well as supportive discussions on challenging relationship-related issues.
See more of our Blogs & Videos below for tips on relationships & mental wellness:See this gallery in the original post
See this gallery in the original post
Blog written by:Dr. Shelley Sommerfeldt, Clinical Psychologist, Relationship Coach & Founder of theLoving Roots Project, an online wellness practice specializing in personal growth, mental wellness, & relationship betterment.
Follow theLoving Roots Project on social media for weekly blogs & video posts:See this social icon list in the original post
Discover more from Loving Roots Project