Affection Do’s and Don’ts
“The beauty and mystery of this world only emerges through affection, attention, interest and compassion. . . open your eyes wide and actually see this world by attending to its colors, details and irony.” ― Orhan Pamuk, My Name is Red.
Affection is a way of showing how much we care about someone or something. When expressed, affection sends a powerful message:
- You are important to me; This is important to me
- I care about you; I care about this
- You are safe with me
- I am here for you when you need me
Affection is like a perfect gift, a way of letting the receiver know that you are paying them attention and that you REALLY see them. When the gift giver wants to communicate this to the receiver, he or she will find, buy, or make a gift that says “I’m listening; I hear and see you.”
In my coaching practice, I often see clients who either do not receive or think that they are no longer capable of giving the gift of affection. This causes a great deal of sadness, suffering, and alienation in many of their relationships. The reverse of affection is indifference, where a person is ignored or shunned. We seek affection particularly from our family and friends. We also constantly monitor the affection we are receiving as a measure of the status of our existing relationships. To help you monitor your affection ‘bank’, I have compiled the following list of affection Don’ts and Do’s:
- Ego – When rationalizations (conscious brain) win over the subconscious, we tend to ignore long-term factors, such as nurturing, consoling and helping another person. Instead, we focus on “being right” in the moment, and on ourselves rather than the other person.
- Fear of loss of one’s identity – We become attached to our ideas, thoughts and relationships. When the attachment is strong, the anticipated sense of loss is huge, which amplifies fear. Some people are afraid of getting close to another out of fear of losing their own identity. They put up walls and barriers to prevent the fear of loss from taking place.
- Scarcity mindset – People with a scarcity mindset have a very hard time sharing anything including affection. They often “play it safe” and will shy away from any displays of affection out of fear of losing their sense of identity or being perceived as “emotionally needy”. If you have a scarcity mentality you will take things VERY seriously and become overly nervous or withdrawn. Affection needs you more relaxed, not nervous and needy.
- Sarcasm – It may sound witty, but it does nothing to build another person up. It’s not funny unless someone’s feelings get hurt, or someone gets offended. Sarcasm tends to be used in lieu of something nice to say. Affection repellent!
- Timidity – Is characterized by or indicates fear. People who are reserved and bashful value security over passion and tenderness. They have a harder time expressing affection, which requires applause for the other.
- Trap of taking each other for granted – In essence, expecting someone to be available all the time and forgetting that we are lucky to have them. If the people do not emotionally comfort, support and uplift each other, affection stands no chance.
- TV dinners – If done regularly as a way of filling the void, these will definitely succeed in killing affection between individuals.
- Setting aside individual egos for the good of the relationship – Putting the best interests of the relationship and the value we wish to share first. No holding back. Lower your shields and release your blocks.Building a high capacity for forgiveness and letting go of frustrations, as well as the need to punish the other, are key to affection. Accepting, rather than resisting challenges indulges affection.
- Connections and undivided attention – “Happiness is a measure of how thickly the unconscious parts of our minds are intertwined with other people and with activities. Happiness is determined by how much information and affection flows through us covertly every day and year.” ― David Brooks .Cultivating strong spiritual, mental, and emotional connections without fear or guilt means supporting each other to overcome our failures and weaknesses, to grow and to live empowered lives.
- Common interests and clarity of purpose – Deep conversations and masterminding together, not just about our own concerns and hopes but also to serve the greater purpose.
There are many ways to show affection, especially in a romantic relationship:
- A hug and a kiss before you leave for work
- A greeting card
- A bouquet of flowers, not just for birthdays or anniversaries
- A walk after supper
- A phone call during the day to ask the person how she is doing
But perhaps the biggest one is “holding hands”. “You know the reason The Beatles made it so big?’ I Wanna Hold Your Hand.’ First single. Fucking brilliant. Perhaps the most fucking brilliant song ever written. Because they nailed it. That’s what everyone wants. Not 24/7 hot wet sex. Not a marriage that lasts a hundred years. Not a Porsche…or a million-dollar crib. No. They wanna hold your hand. They have such a feeling that they can’t hide. Every single successful song of the past fifty years can be traced back to ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand.’ And every single successful love story has those unbearable and unbearably exciting moments of hand-holding.” ― David Levithan, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
What’s the most important item in your affection bank?