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Blog: Why Do We Need Affectionate Touch?

By Dr. Laura on December 15, 2022
Woman in white tank top lays across from and holds hands with a man in a blue button-up shirt

I once received a call from a husband saying he wanted to dump his wife, despite having several adolescent children. He said he just didn't love her anymore. I gave him one of my ridiculous assignments that I'm now famous for.

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I said to him, β€œTonight, at dinner, get up out of your chair and go to the refrigerator and get something. While you pass her, just run your finger over the back of her neck as you walk by.”  

Showing affection is another way of saying, β€œI love you.” But it’s also a way to release oxytocin, the chemical responsible for reducing pain and causing a calming sensation. Dr. Kory Floyd discusses its importance, among other factors, in his article, β€œ7 Scientifically-Proven Benefits of Showing Affection to Your Partner,” on Your Tango. 

β€œOxytocin is increased during sexual interactions and also as a result of affectionate touch... The effect appeared to be especially marked in husbands,” Dr. Floyd writes. So, don't nag about how your husband likes to hug and touch you. It makes a difference when you hug and touch him.  


Affectionate touch is meaningful to others


"Showing affection is associated with higher relationship satisfaction... Being affectionate makes you appear more trustworthy,” Dr. Floyd writes. When you're being attentive, you're thinking beyond yourself and extending to somebody else. 

Please hold hands with your dearly beloved while you're walking. You have no idea how that changes those moments of spending time around each other. You may think you look stupid to others, but they wish somebody cared enough to hold their hand. 


Affectionate touch doesn’t always have to be romantic


"Being affectionate today puts you in a better mood tomorrow,” Dr. Floyd says.  

On occasion, I’ve said, β€œMy brain is scrambling. Can I have a hug?” A hug really does unscramble your brain. When your dog finally gets comfortable, either sprawled out on you or next to you, and you hear their release of breath, I love that sound. It means my pup Lily has just let it all go. That's how you feel if you've got a really good hug. 

Everyone on our crew hugs when getting on the boat. When we get out of the water and leave each other, we hug as well. It reinforces that we're a team, that we get along and appreciate each other's efforts during the race. All that hugging. It's probably one of the reasons we generally do very well.  I'm convinced of it.






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