It takes ages to nurture a relationship, but not so long to ruin it. Such is the nature of romantic partnerships – always fluid and often uncertain! When relationships are cultivated, they demand a lot — from time and emotion, to chivalry and affection. At the same time, when there is a falling out, it starts with a lack of affection and intimacy in a relationship. And before we know it, everything else follows — arguments, blame-games, keeping secrets, fewer cuddles, and what not.
When intimacy is gone in a relationship, you will feel a loss of the old bond you shared and would might not feel the same urge to hug or kiss your unaffectionate partner.
Maria and Smith were together for three years before Smith started to feel a void in the relationship. “There were plenty of reasons for the differences between us but one common explanation that I can think of was the lack of affection and intimacy in our relationship. And it was fairly conspicuous and troublesome to both of us,” says Smith.
Experts also warn couples against the adverse effects of lack of physical intimacy in a relationship. “When there is a lack of physical intimacy, it directly impacts the emotional bonding, and vice versa. When two people hug or cuddle, or express affection to each other, they tend to release oxytocin, which is also known as the love hormone. Release of oxytocin gives you happiness, and without this, you are likely to stay dissatisfied,” says Monica Sharma, counselor and relationship therapist in Delhi.
What Are The Reasons Behind Lack Of Affection In A Relationship?
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 lack of affection must be understood before one of you fall into depression caused by lack of intimacy.
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 – lack of spending time with each other, being one of them.
We have listed some of the common reasons for lack of affection in a relationship:
1. Weak emotional connection
When your emotional chord does not strike with your partner’s any more, it is the early sign of lack of affection and intimacy.
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. This is certain to leave you starved of affection and intimacy with your partner.
3. Lack of respect for your partner
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 relationship.
4. Disparity in personality
Your personalities might be quite distinct from each other. You perhaps did not realize at the onset of the relationship, but as the time rolls on – those differences become significant, and start to impact the affection and intimacy with your partner.
Related Reading: Opposites Attract
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 shape and size, or setback in career or personal life. Often times when someone does not feel confident, they would not express affection to their partner.
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.
9 Ways Lack Of Affection And Intimacy In A Relationship Affect You
When you realize that your relationship lacks affection and intimacy, it is a warning sign for the longevity of your romantic life. You must wonder what does lack of affection do to a relationship. It impacts couples in different ways, and some face problems such as increase in bickering and lack of emotional connect with the partner. Look 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 each other
When there is a lack of affection and intimacy, you 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 priorities.
2. Imbalance in relationship
Lack of affection between the two people can lead to a situation where one of the two would be investing more into the relationship than the other, leaving them frustrated for 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. Fewer touches
You don’t get touchy-feely with each other as much in public, and even in private —you don’t cuddle or hug or caress as much as you did in the early days of romance.
Roma and Joel, who have been together for over two years now, started feeling the effect of lack of intimacy a few months ago and as a result, they feel an acute sense of something missing. “When intimacy is gone in a relationship, you will just know it instantly,” says Roma.
4. You stop seeking advice
When the relationship loses affection and intimacy, the spark in the relationship also follows suit. In such a scenario, you would stop seeking each other’s advice, and may not be as supportive and cooperative to each other as your partner expects.
Whether it is career advice, or a family problem, or after an argument with your best friend – you will no longer feel comfortable seeking honest advice from your partner.
5. You’re lonelier
With a lack of affection and intimacy, you would feel lonelier than usual. You don’t get feel your partner’s support when you need to de-stress. Your bond with your partner, like a true friend, ceases to exist. This can even lead to depression caused by lack of intimacy.
Related Reading: Feeling Lonely In A Relationship: 15 Ways To Cope
6. Impression on social media
When your relationship lacks affection or intimacy, you are more likely to seek pleasure elsewhere — social media, for instance. You feel tempted to look good on social media and seek pleasure.
“When someone is unhappy in a relationship because of lack of affection or intimacy, they are likely to seek affairs outside the partnership to satisfy their emotional or physical needs. And it is common not only among men, but among women as well. Any gender can be dissatisfied with a relationship and seek happiness elsewhere,” says Monica.
7. Level of arguments rise
As a result of lack of affection or intimacy in a relationship, the couple is likely to bicker unnecessarily. With time, these bickering might even increase if you do not iron out the differences at an early stage. Always remember that a gentle squeeze of your partner’s hand, a peck on their cheek or caressing their hair can be far more therapeutic than a long argument over what went wrong.
8. Physical relations take a hit
All relationships require physical intimacy to survive. Without affection or intimacy, it is not feasible for any romantic relationship to survive, let alone thrive. One effect of a lack of physical intimacy is that the relationship could end. Signs of a romance breaking up are not uncommon if physical intimacy in a relationship is on the low side.
9. A new normal sets in
When there is a lack of affection or intimacy, a new normal sets in after the old spark has faded away. No matter how strong and robust the bond you shared with each other was, the lack of affection would be potent enough to re-define the rules of relationship.
As you are now aware of the adverse effects of lack of affection and intimacy in a relationship, you must make conscious efforts to deal with it, and try to bring the love and harmony back.
There are various ways to bring intimacy back into your relationship. But before that, one must be conscious of the fact that any strong relationship thrives on some key factors: trust, autonomy, openness, self-awareness and physical presence. So, to be able to bring the fire back into the relationship, you need to stick to these to ensure your relationship sustains with a healthy dose of intimacy.
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.
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.
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.