Imagine a world without affection… gosh we’d be miserable, from receiving a mood-boosting morning text from a special someone to leaning on your best mates when in doubt, to giving your gorgeous doggo a big squeeze and belly rub, affection makes us feel good. In this blog, we will explore the ways in which showing affection to others positively impacts our own well-being (and how we can show more, and feel better ourselves). Whether you’re feeling disconnected from loved ones, struggling to find patience for your partner this week or just feel like sharing some more love, keep reading.
Affection plays a vital role in our lives by fostering emotional connections, strengthening relationships, and promoting our overall well-being. It provides a sense of love, care, and support, contributing to feelings of happiness and fulfilment. By expressing affection and receiving it from others, we experience a deeper sense of belonging, improved mental health, and enhanced quality of relationships.
How do we show love and affection?
Have you heard of the 5 love languages? The concept was developed by Dr Gary Chapman, in his book “The 5 Love Langauge: The Secret to Love that Lasts”. According to Chapman, we all have a primary love language which is our preferred or most secure way to receive and show love and affection.
The 5 Love Languages are:
Words of affirmation: expressing affection through verbal appreciation, compliments and kind words for example. People who value words of affirmation feel loved and appreciated when they receive positive and encouraging messages.
Acts of Service: showing love through actions rather than words. You might prefer someone to show you their love, or feel loved when your partner does the washing up, thinks about tea and remembers to take the bins out without being reminded. Or friends who help you run errands.
Receiving Gifts: centers around giving and receiving physical tokens of love. It's not necessarily about materialism but about the thoughtfulness and effort put into selecting and giving gifts, the sentiment behind the gesture is valued more than the gift per se.
Quality Time: it’s about giving someone your undivided attention and being present in the moment. This love language emphasises spending meaningful time together, engaging in activities, and having deep conversations.
Physical Touch: involves expressing affection through physical contact, such as hugging, holding hands, kissing, or cuddling. For individuals with this love language, physical touch is a powerful way to feel loved, secure, and connected.
These apply to both how we like to receive love and feel valued, but also how we show our love and affection to others, from romantic partners to our family members and friends, even those furry ones (your pets).
Each of us tends to have a preference for one of these, for example, acts of service, but we might also like a few of these, sometimes enjoying the odd gift or compliments, but we mostly feel that affection and love when the house chores are done before we get home or it’s done so we don’t have too. And we probably have a preferred language for showing affection too.
Understanding and speaking the love language of your partner, family members, or friends can enhance the way you communicate love and strengthen your relationships. But it is important to identify the primary love language of the person you want to express love to and adapt your actions accordingly, to build that connection and strengthen bonds in mutually beneficial ways (by understanding your own love language, you can communicate your needs to others, allowing them to express love in a way that resonates with you).
What are your love languages?
To figure out what your love language is, think of a time when you felt truly loved or valued in a relationship (it doesn’t have to be romantic), and reflect on what contributed to those feelings - was it physical touch that made your feel secure and safe, or a lovely gift that had a deeper meaning only you would understand, or an afternoon spent together one on one.
Then think of a time you’ve shown your affection confidently, without second guessing it too much, maybe you love to cook dinner for your partner or run them a hot bath after they’ve had a long day at work, or maybe you like to have deep chats with your friends that go from crying to laughing together, or maybe you are a hugger, and will hug anyone who lets you.
What does showing affection do for us?
Knowing your love languages isn’t always necessary, but showing affection (and getting some back) is vital. And yes, being affectionate with others can indeed boost our own well-being. Here's how:
Increases positive emotions:
Engaging in affectionate behaviours, such as expressing love, hugging, or showing kindness, triggers the release of feel-good hormones like oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin. These hormones contribute to feelings of happiness, contentment, and overall well-being.
Affectionate acts have been shown to lower stress levels. Physical touch, in particular, can help reduce stress hormones like cortisol and promote relaxation. Sharing affectionate moments with loved ones can provide a sense of comfort and security, which helps alleviate stress and promotes emotional well-being.
Improve social connections:
Affection is a way to connect with others on an emotional level. Building and maintaining strong social connections is essential for our well-being, as it provides a support network and a sense of belonging for us. Being affectionate with others can deepen bonds and encourage satisfying relationships, improving our overall psychological and emotional well-being.
Increase relationship satisfaction:
Demonstrating affection in our relationships fosters a positive environment and feelings, and it often elicits similar responses from our loved ones, creating a cycle of positivity and satisfaction within the relationship. Satisfying relationships improve our wellbeing, unsatisfying relationships can really weigh down on us and reduce our wellbeing feeling emotionally drained, or even hurt and upset with others.
Build our self-esteem:
Showing affection to others can also boost our self-esteem. By actively expressing love, kindness, and care, we develop a sense of self-worth and contribute positively to the lives of others. Seeing the positive impact of our affectionate actions can increase our self-esteem and overall sense of value.
That’s why everyone is obsessed with ‘being kind’ and doing nice things for each other, it really does bring a bit of joy to everyone involved, spark further connection and deeper support systems and make the world seem like a nicer place (which we could really do with in any way we can!)
It's important to note that being affectionate should be genuine and based on mutual consent and comfort. Respecting boundaries and understanding the preferences of others is key to creating a positive and supportive environment for both ourselves and those we interact with. Plus, there's a lot more to our relationships than just showing affection, but it's always nice to feel loved 🥰