Regardless of your age, gender, sexuality, or physical and mental health, you — and everyone around you — needs love and affection.
There’s a reason receiving love and affection feels so good. It’s a phenomenon which happens at the chemical level, with the release of oxytocin, or the “love hormone.” Affectionate behaviors, such as holding hands, hugging, or having sex, elevate your level of oxytocin. This in turn, encourages bonding, reduces pain, and creates an overall calming sensation.
Feelings of love and affection even appear to carry with them numerous health benefits by lowering your blood pressure, stabilizing your mood, and much more.
The mental, emotional, and social advantages of receiving love and affection speak for themselves. Aside from helping you to maintain positive, long-lasting relationships, your confidence and self-esteem get a major boost. You and your loved one can strengthen your bond and build greater trust.
Giving love is every bit as critical as receiving it in our quest for happiness. Think about how wonderful it feels to be shown and told that you are loved. Your partner deserves to experience that, too. Expressing your love and affection motivates them to continue doing the same for you. What better way is there to demonstrate your commitment, dedication, and loyalty?
Loving others also allows you to open yourself up to another person, and discover your inner capacity for pure, unconditional love.
Giving love is not about grand, showy gestures. It doesn’t take a lot of time, effort, or money to offer love and affection. Quite the opposite, in fact. It’s actually a slow and steady process that’s more about consistency and dependability, rather than the occasional over-the-top display.
Here are a few pieces of advice on how to show love:
- Be sincere: Don’t do anything that doesn’t come naturally to you. Not to say that you’ll never have to step outside your comfort zone. But when you do, it should be to show love and affection in a way that feels right for you and your partner. Don’t copy everything you see in movies, on TV, or hear about from friends. Consider having a conversation about languages of love, or small gestures which make your partner feel appreciated. Once you understand how they prefer to be given love and affection, it will become second nature to you.
- Be consistent: Nothing is more disheartening than having a partner who runs hot and cold. When you’re in a bad mood, let them know you love them, but could just use a bit of space for awhile. Also, try to get into the habit of saying “I love you” at least twice a day, perhaps when you wake up in the morning and before you go to sleep at night.
- Be there: Showing love sometimes just means showing up. You’d be surprised by how supported your partner feels when you take time out of your schedule to be with them for occasions big and small. If they’re upset, offer a shoulder to cry on. It’s not necessary to start doling out sage advice, being there is enough.
- Surprise them: No, not an expensive, elaborate surprise party with all their family, friends, and coworkers. Even the tiniest of surprises every once in a while can go a long way. Tape a note to the bathroom mirror, leave their favorite treat on their pillow, or send a text in the middle of the workday. Small gestures such as these demonstrate how much you care, and that you think about them even when you’re not together.
- Rekindle the romance: Regardless of whether you’re still in your honeymoon phase or living in a stable, long-term relationship, the element of romance is key. You shouldn’t expect your partner to crave physical intimacy if there hasn’t been any buildup towards it. Note, however, that regular physical intimacy, especially when it involves orgasm, takes your relationship to a whole new level. This is because your body experiences a surge in oxytocin levels during sex, the effects of which can last for days, reinforcing feelings of closeness and affection.
Every single person deserves to be loved and appreciated. If you find yourself feeling bad more often than good, it might indicate that you’re involved in a toxic relationship. In contrast, healthy, happy relationships make you feel confident and empowered.
Maintaining a strong relationship, however, requires time and effort. Find out how your partner prefers to be shown love and affection, and speak that language of love regularly. Think of it as the golden rule of romance: love others the way you wish to be loved.