Health Benefits of Physical Affection In Relationships

· February 13, 2019
Physical affection reinforces bonds, transmit feelings and emotions. However, we don't practice this wonderful show of affection as often we should.

Physical affection is a way to show affection and strengthen relationships, awaken feelings, emotions and simple pleasures. Our skin contains countless receptors that relieve anxiety, increase feelings of happiness and reaffirm bonds. Here are some health benefits of simple gestures and physical affection in relationships.

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Now, we realize that not all physical affection is welcome and that not all physical contact is comfortable or pleasant. Furthermore, physical affection such as caressing is reserved especially for those who hold a place in our hearts. In fact, they’re almost like an essential form of “nourishment.”

A baby needs caresses to feel loved and for its brain’s structures to properly develop. In turn, a partner that doesn’t understand the wise art of touch cannot fully appreciate a relationship. Moreover, simple gestures and kind words do wonders for a couple.

Physical Affection Should Come from the Heart

Your skin contains over 5 million nerve endings that transmit the feelings and sensations that you receive from your environment.

Moreover, the skin transmits sensations of cold, heat, revulsion, pleasure, moods and many types of emotions. Think of the healing caress of a mother on her child, that of a friend offering their support, or that of your partner showing their genuine love and affection.

Also, we can’t forget this obvious fact: all living beings seek out and enjoy the touch of others. Animals caress each other, and our pets show physical affection towards us as well. It’s a type of language that comes directly from the emotional brain, which understands the benefits of touch.

Physical Affection is the Art of Empathy

Whoever offers their physical affection understands that this action is pleasant, that feeling the skin of the one you love builds a positive and healthy relationship.

Now, we must point out that some people tend to associate caresses exclusively with foreplay, or the first stages of sexual stimulation and arousal.

The art of caressing isn’t reserved exclusively for sex; it’s an essential part of human communication. Additionally, it’s a way to bond, whether it be with a family member, close friend or significant other.

I caress you because I know you need it and I know it will help you feel supported, loved and appreciated. This all reflects empathy coming from someone who wants to help you feel better.

However, we must also keep in mind that some people can use caresses and hugs as in a subtle form of selfishness that can be problematic.

Hands energy physical affection glowing light

Oxytocin: Relationship Glue

Oxytocin, on top of being a hormone, is a neurotransmitter. It could be defined as the “glue” that binds living beings together by promoting love, affection, and care. Additionally, it can reduce stress, strengthening the bond between couples or between parent and child.

Oxytocin is produced in the hypothalamus and is secreted by the pituitary gland before being dispersed throughout the entire body.

Likewise, this fascinating chemical encourages behaviors like empathy, caring, compassion, as well as increasing sexual desire and even milk production in breastfeeding mothers.

The more oxytocin in our bodies, the less aggressive our behavior. It’s truly amazing.

Drawing of a couple hugging outline only of man woman sketched well physical affection

Letting Go of the Fear of Touching the Ones We Love

Some people are shy, insecure and unaccustomed to physical contact. Therefore, this may make it hard for them to build enriching relationships with others if they avoid the use of this type of communication.

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Love that is not expressed through touching, cuddling, kissing or hugging is a half-empty type of love that often leaves behind many victims in its wake. These people are missing out.

Don’t hesitate to employ this type of communication without words. Give these everyday gestures a try. A caress on the cheek, hand, a hug in the morning or when saying goodbye, or an unexpected kiss are the little things that keep us together.

In addition, don’t forget to create a special bond with your children. Make sure they receive skin to skin contact with their parents as babies and plenty of hugs and caresses as they get older.

Nonetheless, we know there will come a time when they’ll avoid it out of pride. However, everyone enjoys being caressed by a loved one.

It’s a gesture that shows your support, like saying “I’ll always be there for you” or “you’re an important part of my life.”

  • Gulledge, A. K., Gulledge, M. H., & Stahmannn, R. F. (2003). Romantic physical affection types and relationship satisfaction. The American Journal of Family Therapy31(4), 233-242.
  • Dainton, M., Stafford, L., & Canary, D. J. (1994). Maintenance strategies and physical affection as predictors of love, liking, and satisfaction in marriage. Communication Reports7(2), 88-98.