Affection: What is it and how much?

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-09-2010
Affection: What is it and how much?
Sun, 06-20-2010 - 10:14pm

Ok, so we aren't married yet but we've been heading that way, and now we're running into some (what I hope are) minor problems.

Basically, our issue right now is physical affection. I need kisses, hugs, cuddles, etc. And he...doesn't. He thinks I need/give too much, I think he doesn't give enough. I won't tell him he doesn't need enough, because that's not up to me to decide.

The thing I'm wondering is...are there things that he is doing that could be considered showing affection that I'm missing because it's not the way I want him to express it? I mean, there are some obvious signs of love and affection, in things such as the fact that he's willing to work to support our family (our family being him, me and my two kids from a previous marriage), and let me stay at home to take care of the house and kids. And that is a huge deal to me, which is yet another reason why this is bothering me so much...I feel so guilty wanting anything more when he is, right there, giving me so much.

So, I'm wondering...what do you all consider to be affection? Stuff like hugging, kissing, cuddling? Sex itself? Pet names? Saying I love you? All of those things, and something else? None of those things and something else entirely?

Even better, if there's a man (or a woman, even..I suppose it would be the same) who's just not a touchy-feely kinda do you express to your spouse that you love and feel affection for her/him? Maybe that will make something click and I'll have that "ah-ha!" moment where I realize that he does something else that shows it.

And when it comes to affection, however you should define much of it do you need? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Yearly? Never? How often each day/week/month/year?

And, last but not least...if you have different needs for affection (one is touchy-feely, one is not, you define it differently, whatever), how do you compromise and find that middle ground where everyone is relatively happy and nobody feels forced and/or neglected? How did you work it out: did one bring up the level of affection while the other toned it down, and if so, how much? Did you just learn to accept that they would never give you the affection you desire or that they would always smother you with more than you want, and if so, how did you accept that? How did you come to terms with that?



iVillage Member
Registered: 02-20-2002
Mon, 06-21-2010 - 7:26am


I'm a person that hugs and snuggles are important, I dont know what to tell you.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-20-2008
Mon, 06-21-2010 - 9:35am

So, I'm wondering...what do you all consider to be affection? Stuff like hugging, kissing, cuddling? Sex itself? Pet names? Saying I love you? All of those things, and something else? None of those things and something else entirely?

Whoa...that's a lot right in that little paragraph.

The choices we make in thought, word and deed inevitably return to us in kind.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-09-2010
Mon, 06-21-2010 - 10:50am

Don't misunderstand me...I probably wasn't very clear in what I was saying. I'm not trying to change him. I know that you can't change a person, and that even if I could, he then wouldn't be the same man that I fell in love with.

I will admit that yes, I am disappointed that I am the one that seems to always have to initiate the affection, be it a kiss, a handhold, an "I love you", whatever. We have some other issues we are working on as well, so maybe it's just that this is kind of a "yet another issue" kind of thing and isn't that big a deal.

The reason I was asking for what others consider to be affection is because I did realize that not everyone defines it the same way. And I thought that maybe by looking at how others define it, and then looking at my relationship, I might see where it's like, ok, you know, he does this, and that, and the other, and those are all ways he expresses his love; they're not affection the way I've always defined it, but they are affection nonetheless. As an example, when I was married to my ex (the father of my 2 kids) he worked 2 jobs so I could stay at home. I never thought much of that; he was my kids father and so him supporting us just seemed...not required, but just kind of a given. Not something I had to think about. But my SO wants to provide for our little family of him, me and my 2 kids. I realized this is a great indicator of his love, because no one, man or woman, is going to want to support 3 people they have no legal responsibility for unless they love them. I spent quite some time being wishy-washy and feeling like I want that but I can't do that because it's not right and not fair to him, before I realized that this is one way he shows he loves me and he wouldn't allow us to live that way if he didn't truly want to.

And I think that's part of my problem too. That one thing, working so I can stay at home, is such a huge deal. It's a huge sacrifice, and I feel guilty when I think gee, I wish he'd kiss me sometimes, or I wish he'd hold me while we watch this movie. It's like he's already given me so much, and here I am, demanding something more.

And we've also discovered that he has low testosterone levels, which is causing some of our problems. And that, too, is also leaving me confused. I want to be supportive for him, and be there, but he's just so darn stubborn and always wants to deal with problems by himself. And even if he let me in, then there's the struggle that I want to be there for him, but I feel like he doesn't give me what I need and it makes it hard for me to want to give to him sometimes, if that makes sense.

Ugh...I don't know. I'm just so confused sometimes.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-04-2006
Mon, 06-21-2010 - 12:42pm

Hi and welcome to our board.

I think you should go to this link:
On there is a book called The Five Love Languages. I also think you should probably buy this book (or at least read through it).

Basically, every person has a "Love Language". It's what makes them feel loved. For many men (I'm totally generalizing here), TO FEEL LOVED they want to feel appreciated. TO GIVE LOVE they do stuff. Wash the cars, mow the lawn, take out the garbage, etc. For women, to FEEL LOVED, they want affection and touching. To GIVE LOVE they say I love you, touch, are affectionate etc. Do you see the problem? How one person show's their love, doesn't mean the other person is feeling the love.

No matter how much your DF does for you, the fact will always remain, you need touching/affection/etc to feel loved. This is where the book comes into play. And I hope your DF is willing to go along, read or hear you out, etc. I can bet you, you two have different Love Languages.

But the way to fix to realize what your SO needs and to give it to them in the form they need it. So let's say your DH feels loved when you do things. That means, you do the things that'll make him feel loved (even if it is mowing the law once a month for him). And we'd hope, he'd want to do the same for you. So if you need affection, then maybe he can start out with initiating a hug, once a day. And you BOTH have to realize it will be a slow process.

In my teens, I wasn't a very affectionate person with people. With my SO, very affectionate. I loved when he'd hold me, hug me, hold my hand, etc. But even then, I hated hugging people as a form of greeting. Very awkward. lol. Over time, I've come to be comfortable with it. I'm more of a touchy feely person with more people. Granted, for myself, it took many years, but I'd hope if your DF needed to work on it, because it's an SO, he may come around faster.

I hope that made sense.

I don't think us answering what we want and how much etc, will fix anything. Because everyone has different needs. With my current DH, I don't need to be touchy feely with him 24/7. With my XH we were always touching (mostly subconsciously). We'd always make sure we were close enough to touch, even if it's our feet or something. With another X, hugging and kissing was our norm, but not cuddling. With another, we were cuddle bugs. Point is, people are different with different level of needs. I can't tell you if what you want is too much or not enough. Ditto with your SO.

I would suggest the book. If he's completely against even trying, then you have your answer and you will need to make the decision if you can live with that for the rest of your life.

For myself. If a man wasn't affectionate in anyway, I couldn't be with him. No matter how great he was to me or how much he did for me, I need that physical affection. That's just me though.


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Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Mon, 06-21-2010 - 7:04pm

Cheryl was thinking exactly what I was.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-09-2010
Mon, 06-21-2010 - 7:55pm

I was reading these responses, and I see your points. I also thought I'd kind of give an update. I sat down yesterday, and I thought really, really hard. I asked myself what was the absolute bare minimum of physical affection I could live with. I made a list of what I absolutely need. Then I showed him the list. I explained to him that I get that I'm touchy-feely and he's not, and I told him I'm not trying to change him, but that if I don't get what I need, it makes me unhappy and then it's harder for me to give him what he needs. I asked him if he could give me what's on the list (and it's a short one), and explained that if he could do that, anything beyond it would be a bonus and I would try to be less touchy-feely. Things are better so far. Today, he initiated physical affection several times, actually even more than I asked for. I think he finally understands that I am trying to compromise with him, but that I need him to give a little too. We also went to the site for that 5 love languages book, and took the assessments. We found that we are actually very much alike in our languages. He scored an 11 on Quality Time, where I scored a 10, and I scored a 7 on physical touch where he scored a 6, and those were our top scores, and the other ones listed we were exactly the same.

We have figured out that he has low testosterone, which when we looked at the symptoms, he has many. And some of those symptoms are irritability, low libido, and relationship problems. We're thinking that it's not so much incompatibility or differences between us now, but more that the low testosterone is affecting his moods and his mind so severely that he just can't deal with anything, and I'm frustrated from not knowing how to help him or handle things. He's actually begun treatment already for the low testosterone. We're not entirely sure how long it should take to make a difference, but he seems to be feeling better already.

We had such an incredible connection and seemed so in tune with each other from the start of our relationship, and then a few months ago, this issue started. And I think part of our frustration came from how suddenly this all seemed to start. We went from in love and blissful to miserable in no time flat, it seemed. Now that we have an idea what is wrong and how to fix it, I think we're both very hopeful now that things will be ok.

And I do agree with (I think it was) serenity that said that we can be getting good enough. When I made my list of the bare minimum of physical affection, I also made myself a list of other things he does that could be his way of showing affection. And when I forced myself to sit there and LOOK for things that could be taken that way, I realized there were many. I just overlooked them because they weren't the way *I* wanted it to be. I realize I can't do that, that I have to accept that some of his affection may not be exactly as I want it, just as some of mine may not be exactly the way he wants it. We have to recognize that certain things we do are ways of showing affection and appreciate that.

I appreciate all your answers here. They have really helped me a lot.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-22-2009
Tue, 06-22-2010 - 5:31am

This is something you will have to watch over Months -- NOT days.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-05-2002
Tue, 06-22-2010 - 8:19am
We had sort of the same problem when we first got together, and after a few arguments about it, we decided to search for why he thought I was asking for so much affection. Turned out, his ex was never the "cuddly" type, he was left alone for much of the day, and the only time she tried to be affectionate was when she was buttering him up for something. It was just a "past" behavior and he didn't know how to change it.
It may not be that you are too needy. Most people aren't "needy" unless it's something they need. Have you read the book "Five Love Languages?" Your love language may be physical touch, and he may not know how to speak it.

Feb 21 Warner Robins GA


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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-18-2009
Tue, 06-22-2010 - 3:51pm

One of the reasons why I left my marriage was that I absoluted craved physical affection and my then-wife would never initiate it.

This was a deal breaker for me.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-22-2009
Tue, 06-22-2010 - 6:00pm

I know for me that I talked and talked and talked about it over the almost 15 years we were married.