11 Subtle Ways of How to Show Affection in a Relationship

show affection in a relationship
  • SerialDaters
  • May 15, 2023

Affection is a key ingredient in a relationship. Yet, as you step into a relationship you may realize it's not as easy as you might think to show affection. You may meet the question of how to show affection. Particularly as you and your partner might have different ways of showing affection, as well as different ways of needing affection. For example, your partner might be prone to show affection through touch—holding hands, hugs, love making and physical intimacy at large. You, on the other hand, may be much more prone to show affection through your words—telling him or her that you love them, give compliments, and simply stating that you are there for them and care for them.

If you are struggling, or are just entering a relationship and looking for ideas below you’ll find many ideas for how to show affection in a relationship.

How to Show Affection in Your Relationship 101

As already mentioned, people have different ways of showing affection. Gary Chapman coined five ways of showing affection in his book “The Five Love Languages.” According to Chapman the five ways we show love are:

  • Words of Affirmation (i.e. compliments, telling someone you love them and so forth)
  • Physical Touch
  • Quality Time (i.e. spending quality time together)
  • Gifts
  • Acts of Service (such as cleaning the house, or fixing the car)

While most of us need to be shown love in more than one way, we usually have one or two main “love languages.” If our partner doesn’t use them, you won’t feel loved. That’s why it’s highly recommended you take the quiz on Chapman’s website to find out what love languages you and your partner speak.

Once you know what love language your partner prefers, you can use the below ideas for how to give affection—choosing the ones your partner is likely to appreciate the most.

1. Love Notes

show affection in a relationship

Hide a note in your partner’s bag, in the lunch box, put it on their pillow, or stick it on their windscreen. Finding a cute note, saying anything from “I loved the way you smiled this morning,” to, “I promise to take you for a date this weekend,” can make your partner’s day. And you taking the time to do something like this shows you’re putting an effort into your relationship.

2. Spending a Day Out Together

Date nights are all very well, but how about planning a day together alone with your partner? A road trip to a nearby town, a hike, a day at an amusement field, paragliding, kayaking, a day of exploring museums—the things you can do together are endless. Be sure to pick something both you and your partner will enjoy. A day where the two of you, not friends, family, or your phones are in focus. Quality time, in other words.

Also, contemplate what matters to your partner at large when planning such a day. Are they someone who wants to know the itinerary up front? Or do they prefer things to come as a surprise? Are they happy with last minute decisions, or do they want everything planned? Are they OK with spending a little bit extra for a nice day, or are they mindful of their economy? Do they want a wild adventure, or do they prefer something safe? If you don’t know the answer to these things, ask them.

Just as people have different love languages, they have different things in life that they value and feel comfortable with. While you might be happy catching the next flight to anywhere, not having detailed plans might freak your partner out. Be respectful of their “operating system” in the world. You can push them to widen their horizons and you can both agree on trying things outside your comfort zones, but that has to go two ways.

3. Compliment Away

When the initial spark in a relationship ebbs away, so does the compliments in many cases. They shouldn’t. Complimenting each other can help keep the relationship alive. Remember to compliment your partner on their:

  • Looks
  • Style
  • Personality
  • Things they do that you appreciate (such as always doing the dishes, or always being kind to the neighbors)
  • Things they do in the bedroom that you enjoy
  • Their overall attractiveness (not just their looks but the fact that you find them “hot”)

Challenge yourself to compliment your partner at least once a day. The more you compliment them, the more comfortable they will feel with you. They’ll feel secure knowing that you care about them and genuinely appreciate them—on all levels. They’re also more likely to open up to you in the bedroom and willing to try new experiences as they’ll feel safe knowing you already appreciate them. The fear of being judged therefore goes away more and more. [Read: Interesting and Funny First Message Examples ]

4. Physical Touch

show affection in a relationship

If your partner thrives on physical touch, remind yourself to hold their hand when out and about, hug them, snuggle up on the couch, and make love to them regularly. If you don’t know if they want to explore new things in the bedroom, ask them. You both need to be comfortable exploring what you enjoy together.

5. Take Turn with Date Nights

Maybe your standard date night is dinner at a local restaurant. That’s nice. However, to show your partner you care, plan a special date night for them. This could be anything from staying at home baking a delicious cake (maybe even baking some for the homeless, or the neighbors) to going on a “haunted tour of the city.” It could be a romantic picnic where you read poetry, or a wild night at a local hotel. You know what your partner enjoys, and planning a date that you know appeals to their interests will show you care. It will show you’ve listened to them and remember what they enjoy and that you have the willingness to put in the effort to plan a date night.

If you and your partner enjoy routine, you can even take turns planning such date nights. Maybe once every other week, or once a month, one of you plan such a date night.

6. Show a Willingness to Learn About What Your Partner Cares About

No, horses might not be your thing. And you shouldn’t have to go riding just because your partner loves to ride. But taking the time to learn about her (or his) interest in horses and support her in her journey will show that you care. Even something as mundane sounding as knitting might prove to be interesting — if only you let your partner explain why it matters to them. After all, many a woman has kept soldiers warm thanks to their knitting needles. There are usually fascinating stories surrounding just about any topic. And the reason your partner enjoys it might just be the most fascinating story of all! [Read: What’s It Like Dating a Single Dad]

7. Show Your Support

If your partner has had a long day, you can show affection by pouring them a bath, a glass of wine, or cooking them a meal. Giving them a hug or a back rub may also be much appreciated. You don’t have to say something, or try to solve their problems for them—just be there and ease their journey. Many women complain that men try to solve their problems, when all they want is a hug!

8. Remember Their Wishes and Do Small Gestures

show affection in a relationship

Being mindful of someone’s needs is a way of showing affection. If your partner is a neat freak, remembering to clean up after yourself is a way of showing affection.

If you partner loves to get up at 4am on a Saturday to go fishing, allowing them to go to sleep at 9pm on a Friday night instead of pushing them to come with you to a party is a way of showing affection. And getting up at 4am some Saturdays to make them breakfast yet another way. [Read: The 13 Biggest Turn-Ons for Girls]

Small gestures, such as making someone breakfast, packing them a lunch, picking up a takeaway coffee for them, or polishing their car are also ways of showing how much you care.

9. Gifts

When it comes to gifts, it can be something small like picking up a flower along the road to give to your partner, or something big like buying them a weekend at a spa. Not all gifts need to be big, though—often the small ones are more personal. However, it’s important you understand what kind of gifts your partner appreciate.

Is your partner someone who would laugh if you bought them a pair of funny socks? Or appreciate some fluffy socks after they complained about cold feet? Or are they someone who would like a classy bottle of wine, or an exquisite rose? For some a diamond (or a diamond studded Rolex) is the ultimate show of love, for others diamonds mean nothing.

Picking up a truffle at the local chocolaterie on your way home, or a six pack of beer from the store can count as a gift. If your partner loves plants, brining home a new plant might be a great idea. If they love carpentry, another tool for their toolbox might be appreciated. [Read: 10 Signs You’re (Finally) Ready to Get Into a Relationship]

In short, gifts can be big or small, but should always be personal. And if your partner’s love language is gifts, they need to be frequent.

10. Check in On Them

If you know your partner has a deadline at work, or has to go to the dentist, send a text asking how they’re getting along? Ask about their day-to-day life and show you remember what they’ve spoken about by asking how things went, or sending a note to support them before they happen.

11. Be There for Them

If they are going to visit their family in another town, offer to take them to the airport when flying out. If they hate going to the doctor’s, offer to go with them. Even if you don’t like their boss, tell them that you will support them by being at the company dinner if they want you to be there. If they are doing something you want no part of, you can still tell them that you are there for them. For example, you might support them in visiting their mother even if you want nothing to do with the woman. You can agree to disagree on some things and support your partner in their choices.

Just simply asking how they are truly feeling some days, goes a long way to showing affection.