You Feel More Affectionate Towards Your Partner If They Are Responsive, Says Study
Once a friend asked me if I would settle for someone who wasn’t good in bed and I gave a straight up no. I didn’t even think about it. Of course, they said I was being shallow and I didn’t bother to clarify what I meant. But I thought about it. Am I being really shallow? Then I realised our definitions of being good in bed were different. They were talking about things like whether he is good at penetrative sex or may be gets the techniques right when it comes to positions and other things. All I was thinking about is how good he is at making me feel loved and cherished in bed with affection. I may be okay with a guy not knowing how to do certain positions but I am not okay with a guy who isn’t affectionate! Come on, that is my love language!
I give a lot of hugs and kisses (machine gun kind, Eskimo ones, passionate ones!) and that’s how I show love. Well, in my last relationship, he was colder than Russia so now I know it is an absolute must have for me. I mean we never had it but there are several couples who have it going for them and then they just cease to be affectionate. Why? It’s such a waste of love.
Turns out, how we respond to our partner’s affection can either build it or kill it. A recent study found “a positive association between perceived partner responsiveness and affectionate touch.” Physical touch or affectionate touch rather is crucial for bonding. Like I am so demi that even when it comes to friends, I can sit on my bestie’s lap and plant kisses on her cheek but if we are not close, I’d give you a half-hearted hug. So when in romantic relationships, the invisible walls around you come down, and you touch each other more often, it promotes intimacy. Affectionate touch is immensely important for a romantic relationship.
However, the study says that our partner’s “responsiveness” can alter the way we express that physical love. When it comes to responsiveness the study is talking about whether the way your partner responds to you makes you feel supported and loved. So if your partner sits there awkwardly while you are smothering them with a hug, then yeah, they could kill your affection. How very cold of them.
The study had 824 individual participants who were in a relationship for at least six months. Psychology Today informs, “Questions that tapped into partner responsiveness included ‘my partner understands me,’ ‘my partner sees the real me,’ and ‘my partner is responsive to my needs.’ Scores on this scale were then correlated with scales measuring affectionate touch, which included questions such as: ‘how often do you hold hands with your partner?’ and ‘how often do you give each other neck rubs, back massages, or any other warm touching activities?’”
First, over the course of two weeks, these individuals were asked to record every day on responsiveness of their partners. And they were asked open-ended questions, not related to affectionate touching but most of them said it was the “biggest impression” their partner made that day.
In the second part of the research, couples were invited to the lab and one partner was asked to express gratitude to the other. It was observed that expressing gratitude increased affectionate touching among the couples. “Participants who perceived their partners as being higher in responsiveness when they expressed gratitude in the lab subsequently engaged in more spontaneous affectionate touch afterward, and they were specifically more likely to kiss their partner when given the opportunity to be alone with them,” reports PT.
In another part of the research, couples were asked to keep a daily dairy record over four weeks. “The results suggest that on any given day, participants who perceived their partner as more responsive than their average level of responsiveness also reported greater affectionate touching of the partner on those days, even when controlling for their level of affectionate touch the prior day. This seemed to have a positive spill-over effect, as when a partner received more affectionate touch, they also perceived their partner as being more receptive to their needs the following day,” Sarah Hunter Murray Ph.D. wrote in PT.
Affectionate touching is a key ingredient in psychological intimacy and if you ask me, it can snowball quite fast. The question is whether you feel loved, supported and cared for by your partner. Often the root of the lack of physical intimacy and affection is feeling emotionally resentful towards your partner. If mine makes me feel heard, validated and like he adores me for the way I am, that will make me want to kiss him! Or hold him and hug him. To me, affection is a way of communicating your love and how strongly you feel about them. Of course, as the study suggests, if they murder the enthusiasm with limp hugs or I don’t know, return them with handshakes, my suggestion would be to go looking for a new partner who is a willing participant and recipient of your affection.
When couples expressed gratitude, that exercise made the receiver feel validated and admired. Sure, we all have days when we are very annoyed by our partners. We reach a point where we know their flaws and we know they aren’t perfect. But it doesn’t mean that we keep nagging each other. All criticism and no gratitude makes us a crabby partner! And affection doesn’t thrive in relationships where there is no appreciation!