As a sex therapist, I know that the connection between affectionate touch and intercourse frequency is undeniable. In my experience, it’s easy to predict that sex is going to decline when things like kissing, cuddling, massage, hand-holding, and other forms of non-sexual touch decline.
And, I have also found that these forms of physical touch are just as important as sexual activity. This is true for both men and women. You may think that it is only women who crave those kisses and cuddles, but I can assure you that physical touch is just as nourishing and necessary for men as well. (Especially if physical touch is your love language, which you can read more about here).
That is why I was very excited to read about this new study which examined ways that couples can increase affectionate touch in their relationship. This four-part study which was published in the Society for Personality and Social Psychology found that there are several key predictors for what can lead to more affectionate touch in relationships, with the primary predictor being ‘perceived partner responsiveness.’
Perceived partner responsiveness is a fancy term meaning how you feel your partner will respond to your overtures, physical or otherwise. People who felt like their partners were present and engaged were more likely to report higher levels of physical touch. Participants were scored on how they answered prompts like “My partner understands me,” “My partner sees the real me,” and “My partner is responsive to my needs.”
The researchers found that there was a correlation between those who felt most in alignment with those statements and those who reported higher levels of hand-holding, kissing, snuggling, etc.
What does this research mean for you?
First and foremost, I think it highlights the importance of energy, which is something I talk about a lot. As you know, according to the principles of Quantum Love, your energy directly impacts everyone around you, particularly those closest to you like your partner. Sometimes when we are tired, stressed, or otherwise not being intentional about our energy and the vibrations we are sending out, our partner can feel a ‘stay away’ vibe. Even if you’re just grouchy about work or nervous about the pandemic, your partner may read that stress as a barrier, or a signal that you won’t be very responsive if they try to hold your hand or rub your back. That might not at all be your intention. You might really need a hug, but if your energy is coming from a place of fear or stress, that need is not going to be transmitted to your partner in a way that lands.
Why? Because as humans, we hate rejection. It triggers very deep feelings of inadequacy for many of us, so if your partner thinks they might be pushed away if they try to cuddle you, that cuddling is going to be taken off the table very quickly.
So this study really highlights what I know to be true about Quantum Love. If we are in an open-hearted, high-frequency state, our partners will read that energy and respond in turn. They will vibrate higher as a result, which will make you more likely to reach out for physical touch as well. It’s a virtuous cycle that will lead to more physical touch as well as help to keep those flames burning and your sex life intact.
Getting clear about your energy and working towards being in that state of unconditional love and potential is a journey, and some days it’s going to be more difficult for us to be in that state than others. That’s why it’s also important to communicate with your partner.
Let them know you had a bad day at work and ask for a hug, or initiate it yourself. Be the change you want to see in your relationship. If you want more physical touch and affection, be the one initiating that touch. If you miss kissing, don’t ask your partner “Why don’t you kiss me anymore?” Instead, just kiss them. Hold onto that goal of being open-hearted and responsive, and believe in the power of yet. For example, “Our relationship isn’t as affectionate as I want it to be…yet” or “I am not comfortable initiating physical touch…yet.”
So, I leave you with this challenge. How can you be more responsive to your partner this week? How can you foster a relationship that makes room for vulnerability, risk, and connection? You have the power to make these changes. You have the power to create the love life you desire.
Got any questions for me about this or any other sex, love, or relationship challenges? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave me a voice message here. I might answer it on my podcast The Language of Love.