If you are in a long-term relationship, chances are your partner gets on your nerves sometimes. He forgets to take out the trash for the millionth time, or she fails to put the cap back on the toothpaste, and it’s all you can do not to lose your mind. Well, what if I told you that there is a very simple way to instantly feel better about your partner? Would you try it?
If you’re still with me, I’ll assume the answer is yes – good answer! So, what is this magical way to see your partner in a better light?
Physical Affection – as in, hugging, kissing, and good, old-fashioned cuddling. In fact, Drs. John and Julie Gottman, world renowned marriage researchers, found that a 6 second kiss, or a 20 second hug both release a bonding hormone in the brain called oxytocin. When this hormone is released, all sorts of wonderful things happen. Blood pressure goes down, along with stress, anxiety, and even the risk of heart-disease. This means that hugging and kissing doesn’t just feel good, it’s actually good for your health!
While hugging and kissing can often lead to sex, the idea here is to savor these forms of physical affection on their own. Without the pressure of a successful night of orgasms, you and your partner can simply bask in the warmth of being together while letting your hormones do the work of bonding you and creating that warm and fuzzy feeling.
If you think about it, it’s pretty amazing that our bodies are made to feel better when we cuddle. Remember that hormone oxytocin I just mentioned? It’s the same one that gets released when a mother gives birth, allowing her to bond with her child. If you’ve ever seen a new mom cuddling with her baby, you know what I mean – it’s almost like she’s drunk with love. That’s how powerful these hormones are.
If you are a psychology buff, you may remember the famous research of Dr. Harry F. Harlow. Dr. Harlow used monkeys to demonstrate infants needs for physical closeness and affection. In his famous study, the monkeys were either given a wire “mother” or a cloth one. Some “mothers” came equipped with nipples to dispense food and others didn’t. Regardless of whether food was available, the monkeys chose to spend more time with the cloth “mothers,” showing that cuddling can even be preferable to food.
So, now we understand how lovely cuddling really is and that it has both physical and mental benefits. But, what if you are just not a cuddler? If you grew up in a family where cuddling wasn’t the norm or have never been in relationships where physical affection was abundant, it might feel awkward or annoying to reach out to your partner to give and receive warmth and affection.
If that’s the case, first, know that you are not alone. Many people who grew up in non-touching homes or who have been hurt in the past, have a hard time showing affection. If this is you, start small. Maybe make an effort to hold your partner’s hand more often or put your hand on her knee when you are sitting together. Then, as you feel more comfortable you can work up to the more touchy-feely stuff. Either way, remember that you are doing something good for yourself, your health, and your relationship when you reach out and touch your partner.
If you would like to learn how to bring more affection in your relationship, contact me. I’m here to help!