Building a lasting loving relationship requires the nurturing of various key elements: physical affection, trust and respect, friendship, emotional regulation ability, empathy, and effective communication.
In this blog post, I wish to emphasize the significance of physical affection in sustaining a loving relationship. This realization came to me especially while observing couples struggling with frequent conflicts or experiencing a gradual disconnection from each other, claiming they are not in love anymore. My hypothesis is that all these don’t arise overnight, but develop over time, with the neglect of intimacy and physical affection being a contributing factor.
Numerous studies support the idea that physical touch including cuddling, hugging, kissing, holding hands, massaging, and intimate moments, are all sources for releasing Oxytocin in our bodies. Particularly skin-to-skin contact can significantly elevate the level of this „cuddle chemical “.
Maintaining a high level of oxytocin has a profound positive impact on relationships because it is a natural antidote to cortisol, the stress hormone. This explains why we feel so comforted and safe when somebody hugs us.
When we fall in love, our oxytocin levels elevate instantly. Studies show that those lovers with higher oxytocin levels are more likely to stay together over time.
However, both passionate and romantic love tends to wane with time unless we do something to maintain it. Parenthood can further accelerate this decline, especially when maternal focus on children disrupts the crucial hugging and cuddling dynamics with fathers.
Despite the challenges, there are exceptions- couples who manage to maintain passion over time. To be among these enduring couples, consider the following:
• Actively nurture your love, prioritizing a positive emotional and intimate, sexual connection with your partner;
• Cultivate a strong friendship with your partner by being open, and authentic, genuinely caring for each other.
• Regularly show admiration and express appreciation.
• Foster a culture of positivity, even during conflicts, by avoiding hostility and retaliation.
• Admit your mistakes and apologize when necessary.
• Address and resolve conflicts, preventing the accumulation of resentments.
• Maintain empathy during disagreements, adopting a „we“ perspective rather than „me versus you“.
Partners who like and care for each other in the beginning may fall into negative habits, unaware of the natural life cycle of love. By developing proactive loving skills early on- cherishing, maintaining, and caring for our partner- there is a greater likelihood of cultivating a lasting, positive, and healthy relationship.