You long for the cute text messages, spontaneous kisses and cuddles and public hand-holding your boyfriend used to be only too happy to instigate. It's perfectly normal for the affection displayed at the very beginning of a relationship to wane as time goes on, but it doesn't have to be like that. A positive attitude, subtle encouragement and a commitment from you to improve the relationship can help get that initial affection back.
Long Walks and Scary Movies
As tempting as it may be to pout and moan to your boyfriend, "You never cuddle me anymore," it's best to avoid the guilt trips. Asking for more affection could backfire. If he feels pressured or criticized, he may withdraw even further, says Kory Floyd, professor of health and family communication at Arizona State University, in "Inviting Love." Instead, make positive suggestions of things you can do together that will trigger his affectionate side without you having to drag it out of him. Suggest you go for a long walk together, which provides the perfect opportunity for hand-holding. Indulge his love of scary flicks by buying two tickets to the latest big-screen horror movie, where it will be natural for his protective side to come out. Let him comfort you -- even if you're not remotely frightened.
Make the First Move
Start showing your boyfriend a little more affection. Keep it subtle and make it seem as natural as possible, advises relationship and sex therapist Laura Berman in the article "Try Tender Affection to Strengthen Your Bond" on "Love and Sex with Dr. Laura Berman." Squeeze your boyfriend's arm as you pass him on the stairs. Plant a warm kiss on his cheek for no particular reason. Instead of jumping straight into the shower every morning, embrace him and give him a long, sensual kiss. Send him flirtatious text messages when you're apart. Show him your playful side, and, hopefully, he'll dust off his.
Don't Blame Him for Everything
Issues in a relationship are usually caused by both parties -- at least to some degree. Look at your own behavior and compare this to how you acted when you first got together. If you were laid back, sociable and adventurous back then but struggle to see those qualities in yourself now, think about why you might have changed and consider what you can do to be the best possible version of yourself. Catch up with girlfriends you haven't seen for a while. Pick up that hobby you let fall to the wayside. Eat healthily, exercise regularly and take time to relax. If your boyfriend sees you as a confident, fulfilled, independent woman, he may stop taking you for granted and make more of an effort to be affectionate.
Talk It Out
If your attempts to encourage your boyfriend to be more affectionate don't work, it's time to talk. The reason for your boyfriend's lack of affection needs to be identified before you can try to get things back to how they used to be. Speak to him calmly and rationally, explaining what your concerns are and how his behavior is affecting you. Use "I" statements rather than "you" statements, advises licensed clinical social worker Robert Taibbi in the article "The Art of Solving Relationship Problems" for "Psychology Today." For example, say "I feel like we've been drifting apart recently, and I'd like to work out how we can be as close as we once were." If he is unwilling to discuss it with you or gets angry or defensive, it's time to rethink the relationship.
C. Giles is a writer with an MA (Hons) in English literature and a post-graduate diploma in law. Her work has been published in several publications, both online and offline, including "The Herald," "The Big Issue" and "Daily Record."
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