Lack Of Affection And Intimacy In A Relationship — 9 Ways It Affects You

Working On the Marriage | |
Updated On: May 8, 2024
Lack Of Affection

It takes ages to nurture a relationship, but not so long to ruin it. Such is the nature of a romantic relationship – always fluid and often uncertain! And when there’s a marked lack of affection and intimacy in a relationship, you will feel you’ve lost the old bond you shared. We often hear people crib about an unaffectionate partner, “She loves me but shows no affection.” Oftentimes, we too may turn unaffectionate toward our partners. So, have you ever wondered, “Why am I not affectionate?”

And what happens to a relationship without intimacy? How important is physical affection for that matter? Well, it’s common knowledge that hugging and cuddling releases oxytocin, also known as the ‘love hormone’. Without this, you are likely to stay dissatisfied and unhappy. But what does lack of affection do to a relationship in the long run? Can lack of intimacy in marriage spell the end of your relationship? What can you do if you’re dating a non-affectionate person? We’ll try and answer some such burning questions that you may have about affection and intimacy in your relationship. So, without much ado, let’s find out the answers.

The Importance Of Intimacy And Affection In A Relationship

It is human nature to expect intimacy in a relationship, be it emotional or physical, and neither is incomplete without the other. You see, intimacy is natural when the relationship is blossoming and is in its early stages. But with time, intimacy tends to wane, and couples may take each other for granted.

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Amid their busy work schedules and the rush to complete household chores, couples tend to neglect intimacy, which is a core component of any long-term relationship. What they forget is intimacy is what binds a relationship in tough times and strengthens the long-term bond. There are other facets of affection and intimacy that are equally important to relationships. Let’s look at a few reasons why:

1. Humans crave affection

William Schutz, in his theory of Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation (FIRO-B), stated that affection/openness is one of the three fundamental interpersonal needs of humans. In fact, it’s common knowledge that as humans, we crave affection and intimacy. And apart from being a basic need in our everyday lives, affection is also a must in our relationships if we want them to thrive.

Related Reading: Dos And Don’ts In A Long-Term Relationship

2. Affection builds long-lasting relationships

Intimacy and affection can’t be compartmentalized or be termed merely physical. A study suggested that lack of communication and emotional affection were both prime reasons behind couples seeking marital therapy. Both physical and emotional connection are important to maintain a long-term relationship. In fact, there are various types of intimacy that help relationships grow:

  • Emotional: This type of intimacy entails being emotionally available for each other during trying times. It also helps you understand a partner, thereby strengthening the relationship
  • Physical: This may include both sexual and non-sexual gestures, such as holding hands or kissing
  • Intellectual: This involves an understanding of the intellectual capacity of a partner and supporting it by participating in discussions, being open to learning from each other, and challenging each other to stimulate mental growth
  • Spiritual: This entails respecting each other’s spiritual values and practices

And all of these types help nurture a relationship in the long run. They help build a sense of commitment and relationship satisfaction, if handled the right way.

3. Affection improves physiological functions

We often speak of people glowing in love. Some even say affection boosts the immune system. Adding to this belief, researchers have thrown light on the impact of affectionate gestures on physiological factors. A study proved that kissing actually improves health by reducing stress and cholesterol levels of the partners. So, affection seems to be a legitimate way of keeping the doctors away. And a lack of touch in a relationship is likely to affect both your emotional and physical well-being.

What Are The Reasons Behind Lack Of Affection In A Relationship?

So, now you know how important affection is in a relationship. And when you are starved for affection from your partner, it is important to delve deeper into each other’s behavior to find the reasons. The causes must be understood before you fall into depression caused by lack of intimacy.

So, do you find yourself sulking and telling your friends, “My partner isn’t affectionate”? And you’re wondering what could be the cause behind it? There are several reasons for lack of affection and intimacy in a relationship. When Lisa and Richard, a young couple in their late 20s, felt that their relationship lacked affection and intimacy, they tried to find the key reasons for it. After much deliberation, they realized that a multitude of factors were responsible. We have listed some of the common reasons for such lack of affection in a relationship:

1. Weak emotional connection

So, what does it mean when someone is not receptive to affection? In most cases, when your emotional chord no longer strikes with your partner’s, it manifests in a lack of affection and intimacy in the relationship. So, your partner and you may have developed different priorities in life or different value sets, and that may have made you drift apart emotionally. This affects the affection quotient of your relationship.

2. Spending less time with each other

When you are far too busy because of work or personal commitments, you end up spending less time with your partner. Lack of quality time in a relationship is certain to leave you starved of affection and intimacy with your partner.

Related Reading: Has Your Husband Checked Out Emotionally? 12 Signs Of a Failing Marriage

3. Lack of respect for one’s partner

One of the major reasons for lack of emotional intimacy in marriage is lack of respect. No matter how old the relationship becomes, it is important to harbor a sense of respect for your partner. Without that, the bond will likely suffer, leading to lower affection and intimacy in the relationship. Signs of such disrespect are:

  • Frequent verbal or physical abuse
  • Belittling a partner
  • Dismissing a partner’s concerns

4. Disparity in personality

Your personalities might be quite distinct from each other. Partners usually don’t realize such differences at the onset of the relationship, but as the time rolls on, these gaps become significant. Soon, they start to impact the intimacy between you two.

Related Reading: Opposites Attract: Being A Couple With Opposite Personalities In A Marriage

5. Personal insecurities and vulnerabilities

There could be situations where your partner may not be feeling as secure or confident as you. This could be because of numerous reasons — body image issues, a past relationship trauma, or a setback in their career. Oftentimes, when someone lacks self-confidence, they would shy away from showing affection to their partner. You may be wondering, “Can lack of attention ruin a relationship in such cases?” Well, yes, your partner’s insecurities can definitely hamper your intimacy.

6. Lack of fun and frolic

Little joys in a relationship are not only vital but indispensable. As you overlook them, it might cost you dearly and before you realize, your relationship will severely lack affection and intimacy. In fact, you cannot love someone completely without expressing affection in the little daily activities. So, affection and intimacy can be affected, if you:

  • Don’t spend time chilling over Netflix with them
  • Don’t tease them playfully
  • Don’t engage in fun activities, such as hobbies or travel adventures

9 Ways Lack Of Affection And Intimacy In A
Relationship Affect You

When you realize that your relationship lacks affection and intimacy, it could be a warning sign that the longevity of your romantic life is in jeopardy. So, what does lack of affection do to a man, or a woman? Well, when your partner doesn’t show affection, it can impact your relationship in different ways. And some couples face problems such as an increase in bickering and a complete lack of balance. In fact, it can give rise to a vicious cycle of negativities. Watch out for the red flags that could occur when affection wanes in a relationship. Here, we list out the nine key effects of lack of intimacy in a relationship:

1. You stop sharing your feelings with one another

When there is a lack of affection and intimacy, you lose your comfort zone with your partner and will have little or no motivation to share your emotional feelings with each other. The relationship starts to fritter away, and sharing emotions with each other slips down the list of your priorities.

Related Reading: My Husband Is Not Affectionate Or Romantic And I Am Tired Of Trying

2. You experience imbalance in relationship

Lack of affection between partners can lead to a situation where one partner is more invested in the relationship than the other, leaving both frustrated due to the lack of balance and equilibrium. When one of the partners is starved for affection, the lack of physical intimacy can amplify the feeling even more.

3. Your sex life suffers

Well, do you feel you don’t get touchy-feely with each other as much in public, and even in private? Do you feel you don’t cuddle, hug, or caress as much as you did in the early days of romance? We often hear men crib, “She loves me but shows no affection.” Likewise, women, too, may experience sexual dissatisfaction and sexual neglect.

A marked lack of physical touch in our everyday lives may lead to a poor sex life. Remember, sex is much more than an orgasm, and even a significant lack of subtle affectionate gestures ruins your sex life in the long run. And there’s nothing worse than a sexless relationship, as it may eventually drive you to seek pleasure outside the relationship.

Roma and Joel, who have been married for over two years now, started feeling the effects of lack of intimacy in marriage a few months ago. “When intimacy is gone in a relationship, you will know it instantly. And lack of regular gestures of love, such as a hug or a kiss, affected our act between the sheets too,” says Roma.

Related Reading: Signs He Has Sex With You But Doesn’t Love You Anymore

4. You stop seeking advice

When the relationship loses affection and intimacy, the gap between partners widens. In such a scenario, you would stop seeking each other’s advice and may not be as supportive and cooperative to each other as you once were. Whether it is regarding your career or a family problem, you will no longer feel comfortable seeking honest advice from your partner.

5. You’re lonelier

One answer to the question “What does lack of affection do to a man or a woman?” is that it simply makes them feel lonely. It’s obvious that with a significant lack of affection and intimacy, you would feel lonelier than usual. You will also feel a marked lack of your partner’s support when you need to de-stress.

Be it sexual neglect in a relationship or an emotional disconnect, lack of intimacy may hamper your bond with your partner. You may feel as if you’ve lost a true friend. This can even lead to depression caused by lack of intimacy.

Related Reading: Feeling Lonely In A Relationship: 15 Ways To Cope

6. Higher risk of infidelity

If your partner doesn’t engage in intimacy anymore, you may be tempted to shower your love on someone else. This is human nature. You may even feel you’re entitled to find options available elsewhere, such as on social media.

You see, when someone is unhappy in a relationship because of lack of affection or intimacy, they are more likely to seek affairs outside the partnership to satisfy their emotional or physical needs. Seeking happiness elsewhere is not a crime, but infidelity may ruin the long- term connection with your partner.

7. Arguments increase

As a result of lack of affection or intimacy in a relationship, the couple is likely to bicker unnecessarily. With time, these relationship arguments might even increase if you do not iron out the differences at an early stage. Always remember, a gentle squeeze of your partner’s hand, a peck on their cheek, or caressing their hair can solve your issues better and faster than a long argument over what went wrong.

8. Mental and physiological disorders increase

A Psychology Today article states that lack of affection may give rise to what’s known as skin hunger. It’s nothing but a craving for that odd touch or physical contact — one of the effects of lack of physical intimacy in a relationship. And people suffering from this condition often become victims of stress, depression, and other various mood and mental disorders and health issues.

The answer to the question “What does lack of affection do to a woman?” is also related to this point. Well, as women mostly relate emotionally in relationships, any lack of emotional affection can make them sink into depression or develop self-esteem issues. In such cases, women may withdraw emotionally from other relationships too, or start appeasing their partners for minimum validation. It creates an unhealthy relationship dynamic, wherein the woman

9. A new normal sets in

So, what happens when a man doesn’t show affection? Well, when there is a lack of affection or intimacy, a ‘new normal’ sets in and the old spark fades away. No matter how strong and robust the bond you shared with each other was in the past, lack of affection would be potent enough to redefine the rules of your relationship.

Love and romance
Love and romance

How To Deal With A Lack Of Emotional Connection In A Relationship

So, now that you know how lack of affection and intimacy affects a relationship and how important they are in building a long-term relationship, you may be wondering how to deal with a partner who is not affectionate. So, let’s look at some tips to fix a lack of emotional connection in a relationship:

1. Talk to your partner

Remember, communication issues are at the core of many relationship problems, and open communication can solve this issue too. When you feel you aren’t getting enough emotional or even physical affection, talk it out. But, how to talk to your partner about lack of affection? Let your partner know your expectations and then work on them together. Respect your differences. Likewise, an unaffectionate person may be going through an emotional turmoil. Understand the reason behind their behavior and act accordingly.

Related Reading: Understand Why Is Communication Important In A Relationship Before It’s Too Late!

2. Be there for them

A great way of increasing affection and emotional connection in a relationship is being there for your partner in their most vulnerable and weak moments. If they aren’t happy with their careers, aren’t satisfied with your workaholic ways, or are bothered about something else, listen to them and introspect. Don’t avoid them, judge them, or get into a blame game. There are many ways to show affection in a relationship, and supporting your partner in their darkest hours is one of them.

3.Spend time together

Yes, we are all busy with our lives and careers, but spending quality time with your partner has no alternative. We all have different love languages and you need to identify the love language that appeals to your partner. Get romantic, plan surprise dinners, go out for shared activities, travel together, join hobby classes or book clubs – show them you care, make them feel loved, and rebuild a healthy relationship. Rebuilding emotional intimacy in marriage is totally worth it!

4.Ditch your routine

Sometimes, it’s important to break the routine of our monotonous lives to come closer as partners. So, give that work deadline a miss once and give ample time to your partner instead. Stay at home or go out, but don’t rush. Connect over coffee or wine and tell each other how important the relationship is to both.

Related Reading: 25 Ways To Show Someone You Care

5.Stay apart, if needed

Yes, this may seem awkward, but as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Take a small break from the relationship and go on a solo trip or visit your parents. This will also give both of you time to reflect on what you want from the relationship and whether you miss each other and wish to move forward.

6. Talk to a counselor

Lastly, if you’re missing affection in a relationship and if all your efforts to communicate and show affection have failed, go for couples counseling. After all, nobody knows about relationships better than a professional counselor. Have an unfiltered session about what’s causing the rift — physical intimacy issues, emotional disconnect, or boredom? You can also try couples therapy exercises at home.

Key Pointers

  • Intimacy and affection are crucial to the growth of relationships. In fact, lack of emotional affection is a prime factor that drives couples to seek marital therapy. Affection also improves physiological functions in humans
  • There are many factors responsible for the lack of affection and intimacy in a relationship, such as lack of quality time, lack of respect, insecurities, and disparity in personalities
  • The effects of lack of intimacy in a relationship can range from poor sex life and indulgence in social media affairs to loneliness, health issues, and arguments
  • You can bring back affection and intimacy by being physically present, engaging in good communication, supporting them emotionally, ditching the routine, spending time together, and consulting a counselor

So, we hope we’ve been able to address your burning questions regarding the causes and effects of lack of affection and intimacy in a relationship. We hope you’re no longer googling “What does lack of affection do to a woman, or a man?” With our tried-and-tested tips, you will be able to manage such a lack of affection and rejuvenate your bond with your partner. Remember, there could be a myriad of reasons behind lack of intimacy and not all suggestions work for all couples, as we’re all different. So, locate the flaws in your connections, address them wisely, and start working on your affection quotient!


1.Can lack of intimacy ruin a relationship?

Lack of intimacy makes a relationship prone to falling out. Intimacy is a key factor for a strong and robust relationship, so as you fall short of it – the relationship is likely to become a casualty.

2. How do you deal with an unaffectionate partner?

An unaffectionate partner should be reminded of the old spark in the relationship. It is also advisable to enquire about the reasons for their unaffectionate behavior. You will realize that lack of affection, more often than not, can be fixed.

3. What happens when there is no affection in a relationship?

It is not good for any relationship to survive without reasonable affection. So, as affection declines, the chances of relationship to survive in the long run also follow suit.

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