Even in the most loving and close relationships, stress can take a toll. Work, family, money, and other outside factors can occasionally affect the intimacy or communication you have with your partner — whether or not you even realize it. The good news is that there are many different ways you can keep your spark going — and not all of them involve what you do in the bedroom. In fact, with a few simple non-sexual signs of affection, you can show your mate you still have (heart) eyes for them.
Sex is without question an important part of any lasting relationships, but so are so many other happy-making habits, like regularly giving each other positive affirmations, trying new things together, and being honest about (and listening to) each other's needs. And while physical intimacy and forms of affection are necessary for many couples to feel connected, they don't always have to lead to sex.
According to Rachel Thomasian, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at Playa Vista Counseling, there are plenty of ways to use contact and touch to improve your relationship without going all the way — and they're just as (if not more) effective. Read on to see Thomasian's suggestions for five non-sexual yet affectionate ways to show your significant other how much you love and appreciate them every day.
"I always recommend 10 to 15 minutes of daily eyeball-to-eyeball conversation," says the therapist. "Put your devices away and have a talk about something fun. Most couples will report back that 10 minutes turns into way more as they get into the habit of having these conversations. It doesn't seem like a big deal, but it's so easy for people to get busy and miss this interaction on a more regular basis."
You know that exciting feeling in the beginning of a new relationship? Taking time to still flirt with your partner can give you that same butterfly feeling. "Flirting gives us the sensation and satisfaction of being desirable," Thomasian explains. "We often take it for granted but it can make a big impact on the level of love in a relationship."
According to Thomasian, they're actually some science behind why hand holding is effective for creating intimacy. "Our hands actually have the most nerve endings in our bodies so there's so much chemical activity that happens as a result," she says. "Not only does hand holding help decrease the stress hormone cortisol, but it also stimulates the love hormone oxytocin."
More reason to Netflix and chill with your mate: Cuddling can actually bring you closer. "It doesn't have to lead to sex to be meaningful," shares Thomasian. "When you are mindful of physical touch in the moment, you can fully enjoy your partner's touch."
Have you ever heard someone (including yourself) say that the chemistry of a kiss could make or break a potential relationship? Thomasian says that intuition is pretty on-point. "Kissing helps us improve our sense of intimacy and connection, and it's usually one of the first things to go when affection starts to dwindle," she explains. "Make it a point to have a ritual of kissing goodbye in the morning and hello in the evening and you'll be safeguarding the intimacy of your relationship."