Four Ways to Have More Affectionate, Loving Relationships

“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” ~Simone Weil 

It’s so common to take the closest relationships in our lives for granted. That’s why it’s so vitally important to take the time to nurture the little connections that we have with each other, every day. In this way, love is a practice, just like connection takes practice.

It’s the small things, once again, that truly matter with someone we love. It’s taking the time to listen to them when we’re tired and would rather do something else. It’s not shutting them down when they show us little acts of affection. It’s receptivity and openness to connection, as well as getting our priorities straight.

Since I’ve been struggling to change this reluctance to connect on someone else’s terms, here are four things that I’ve learned help to bring someone closer in the moment.

1. Awareness.

Notice the ways, both small and large, in which others try to create connections with you. If we wait for them to approach us perfectly or in the exact moments we’re thinking about it, we miss so much.

2. Receptivity.

Being aware is important, but so is being receptive to a connection. If we acknowledge and then open ourselves to connecting with others, it’s clearly going to foster more connection than if we are aware but not receptive (like my cooking example above).

Being receptive involves staying aware of the greater good in our most important relationships, namely saying “yes” to more love, more connection, and more closeness from others. It’s not turning down the hug or pushing someone away in the moment. It’s apologizing if we fail at these things.

3. Appreciation.

Appreciation is key to positively reinforcing someone’s attempts to get closer to us. If I allow myself to be selfish or distracted and fail to positively acknowledge my partner’s attempts to connect with me, I’m not only pushing him away in that moment, but I’m effectively blocking future connection.

If I don’t nurture the connections that matter the most to me, I won’t have connections with the people I love. That is the inevitable, preventable, awful consequence of failing to provide positive reinforcement.

This is about recognizing the little things, with heartfelt thank you’s and big hugs. It’s having an eye toward acknowledging people’s efforts, and providing them with a positive experience when they interact with me.

4. Reciprocity.

Rather than saving up our affection and positive attention for when we’re really feeling it, maybe it’s better to make a practice of reciprocating our friend’s or family’s affections even when we’re tired, distracted, or not quite interested.

Giving them the gift of our attention is such a strong tool for nurturing them and the relationship that it shouldn’t be saved for the exact, right moment when we feel like sharing our affections. Maybe it’s more effective to resolve to share and connect with the people we care about whenever they reach out to us.

And… try not to push your mom away when she is happily giving you a bear hug!