General Question

wundayatta's avatar

If you had to ask for physical affection from your spouse, would it be worth it?

Asked by wundayatta (58706points) June 14th, 2011

Honey, may I kiss you? Sweetheart, may I hug you? Baby, can I pat your behind? Let’s not even talk about making love.

In my mind, physical affection should be given freely, otherwise, it’s not worth having. If you ask, then it isn’t free. The assumption is that it is forbidden without specific dispensation—i.e., begrudgingly. I wouldn’t want it.

I want physical affection that is showered upon me, not given up begrudgingly. Asking a spouse for affection is about the same as living in solitary confinement.

How would you feel?

This is a hypothetical—not about me.

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40 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Generally I agree. But, I don’t think there is anything wrong with asking at times, if you need it or want it, and it is obvious your partner is not in that frame of mind at the moment. I do want a general feeling in the relationship that our bodies are each others. Either partner can say not now of course, but I would find it very odd not to feel a sort of automatic permission to touch each other.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

If he felt he had to ask permission for or request a kiss,I would be irritated.
Man up and take me now or STFU!

wundayatta's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille That’s not what I’m talking about. Think of it this way. What if you had to ask him permission? How would you feel then? My guess is that you wouldn’t be in the relationship, no matter how wonderful he was in other ways.

Cruiser's avatar

If I had to ask I would realize there is a problem and if for whatever reason it is not resolvable I would make plans for moving on to a better more loving relationship.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@wundayatta -I would never ask for that.If he didn’t feel affection towards me,I would not try to force it as it wouldn’t feel genuine.
I would be long gone as affection is very important to me.
Life is too short,ya know? ;)

Jude's avatar

I’m with Lucy here.

tedibear's avatar

I have to do this in a way. My husband is not a naturally affectionate person. I’ve been around his parents enough to know that they aren’t either. (Although since the arrival of my niece 19 months ago, that seems to be changing.) I want a kiss and hug when he comes home, goodnight kisses, random handholding and hugs. And, being me, I want it to be spontaneous. Which it mostly isn’t. After 12 years (dating and marriage) I always get a goodnight kiss and a goodbye-before-work kiss without asking. Sometimes I get a hello-I’m-home kiss, but that’s about 10–15% of the time. There is no handholding unless I initiate it, and then it ends fairly quickly. Sometimes he’ll hug me just because, but even that is rare. Generally, if I want a hug or kiss, I just go over to him and say, “Hug please,” or “Kiss please.” I don’t necessarily like that I have to do that, but because he has improved over time, I feel like it’s an okay compromise.

The hard part for me in asking is knowing that he doesn’t like random touching. I don’t want to make him uncomfortable.

JLeslie's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille @Jude Why is asking necessarily forcing?

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@JLeslie -It would feel that way to me.I don’t want to have to ask for affection and I don’t.

Facade's avatar

My SO asks when he sees I’m doing something that requires concentration or when he knows I’m frustrated. I appreciate it.
Other than that, it’s pretty much a grope-fest around here =)

wilma's avatar

I understand what @tedibear is saying. If you understand your partners touch needs and also their “please don’t touch” needs, then it’s OK. Some people are very space and touch sensitive, if you don’t want to make them uncomfortable then you respect that. If that isn’t enough for you or good enough for you, or makes you uncomfortable, then it won’t work.
Like @lucillelucillelucille said, she would be long gone.
But… there is a difference between touching and affection. Just because someone is very touch sensitive, and doesn’t like a lot of touching, doesn’t mean that they don’t feel affection for their SO. They may show affection in other ways. That may or may not work for everyone.

JLeslie's avatar

I actually agree that I would not be happy in a relationship that did not have a lot touching, or an overall permission for physical contact without asking. I just don’t perceive asking as forcing. And, I think there are times, as @Facade pointed out also, that one might ask. If I am working on a paper, and my husband wants to have sex before going to bed, if he asks me before he starts feeling me up because I am concentrating, I don’t feel like he is forcing me, and I don’t feel that sets some sort of tone that there always has to be given permission for it. Depends on the situation is all. Usually he would just start touching, but not necessarily. I don’t find it odd if he said, “when are you going to be done with that, I was hoping to have sex tonight.”

tedibear's avatar

@wilma – Yes, there’s a difference between touching and affection. My husband feels affection for me, he just doesn’t like to be touched very much. But, he’ll bring me coffee in bed or something like that. I think that’s affectionate.

But I’ll stop derailing @wundayatta‘s thread now. :)

wundayatta's avatar

For some, touching is not necessarily affection, and for others, there is no affection that is not touching.

I don’t think sex should be brought into it because that is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. So to speak. That takes a good deal of time and energy and people need to prepare, I guess. Although, I, personally, don’t ask because there are only so many “no’s” I can take.

sarahtalkpretty's avatar

Most people probably prefer lots of spontaneous affection, but it makes me feel smothered. I’ve had boyfriends who wanted to constantly hug – this made me want to run away. I do enjoy hugs and kisses with my hubby but not touches every time we happen to pass each other. I had a traumatic childhood and maybe I don’t have good associations with touching. I like touching to be on my terms and to know it’s coming. It’s weird, but my husband seems to understand.

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta Ok, glad you clarified the sex thing.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@wundayatta—Speaking for myself of course,asking for “a hug” or any affection for me would be too whiny and needy.As for prep work to have sex? Sometimes that can be fun,but I am more of a sperm of the moment kind of gal. XD
That attitude is what got me “Wife of the Year” honors in my household. ;)

SpatzieLover's avatar

Touch is not my love language, but it is my husband’s. I don’t find anything odd about one person needing to ask the other for what he/she needs. In fact, if a spouse isn’t asking for what he/she needs there is definitely a communication issue, IMO.

Facade's avatar

@SpatzieLover You read the love languages book?

SpatzieLover's avatar

A seriously long time ago. It did help my husband (Aspie) understand that not all people think alike when it comes to affection.

Facade's avatar

Yea, it’s a good book. My SO read it last year.

YARNLADY's avatar

Every time? Well that would be a bit much. However, some people don’t like the touchy/feely thing. Also, no one is a mind reader, and you can’t always know what they want at the moment. Open communication is the most important part of any relationship.

seekingwolf's avatar

Sometimes you have to ask. Other times it’s spontaneous.

Each couple is different too but usually it’s a mix of both. I think if you’re feeling unbalanced with the way things are, talk to your partner.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

It would become tiresome, I’d start to think there was something wrong with me. I’d become suspicious, angry, snipping, hurtful and maybe even destructive. There would have to be some acceptable reason for me to continue the relationship. There would have to be a great love already built on love, honesty, respect, positive consistency (in other areas) and great companionship in order for me to stay and not feel completely broken.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Well, this is about me. My wife isn’t very affectionate. In fact, she often tries to use affection as an inducement to get me to do whatever it is she wants me to do.

I’ve learned over the years, though, that it’s healthier for me emotionally not to allow my happiness to be dependent on what someone else will or will not do.

And I don’t like to be manipulated.

I shouldn’t have to ask for affection and it shouldn’t be used as a tool to manipulate me. On those rare occasions when she wants to be affectionate, we’re affectionate. But for the most part, that affection is conditional, so I’ve learned to do without it.

seekingwolf's avatar


I think that’s terrible. I don’t think affection should be conditional and used to manipulate. That’s really wrong and it destroys relationships. Not healthy at all.

I think it’s okay to ask for affection once in a while. Like if I came home and had a CRAPPY day and wanted a hug and my boyfriend was busy doing something and couldn’t see me and see that I was upset. But if I asked, he would give it. I think that’s okay.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Well, I love her nonetheless. And I had a choice several years ago to be with someone who would’ve been quite a bit more affectionate. I chose to stay where I am.

One lives with one’s choices.

seekingwolf's avatar

It is true. I see a lot of men in your position though (usually it’s the wife who withholds sex or something) and I do feel badly for them.

I wish you luck nevertheless. I know I’d do my best not to be that way though. Even with my boyfriend now, I give affection to him even if we are disagreeing on something. The only time I couldn’t give it is if he cheated on me or really betrayed me.

YARNLADY's avatar

@seekingwolf @SABOTEUR I think that couples often find themselves resorting to what ever type of communication works for the moment. It could be a manipulative sort, or some other sort, but we all try what ever we can to get our point across. In long term relationships, that can take many different responses, and love accepts them all.

wundayatta's avatar

@SABOTEUR I think physical affection is vital to our health. I think there are studies showing that people who aren’t touched enough, die earlier. Affection has many benefits, I’m sure. So I don’t think you should have to do without. I guess I think it is grounds for divorce if it is as extreme as that. I think it is the road to divorce if it is implemented later on in the relationship.

SABOTEUR's avatar

@wundayatta Perhaps…but it probably sounds much more terrible than it is. It’s not like I didn’t know what I was getting into. My wife has never been very affectionate. I don’t know what happened in her childhood, never learned anything about her father (her mother raised her) or what her previous relationships with men were like. I do know that my first wife was affectionate…and she ran out on me. Abandoned the marriage.

I also know that after the separation and the divorce, I realized I had no idea what a “perfect mate” was, despite believing otherwise prior to that. I resolved at that point to simply accept whoever came into my life afterward. That’s when I met the woman who would become my 2nd wife.

We’ve been married for 25 years. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be despite our differences. This is the reason I didn’t bail when I had the chance. I ain’t goin’ nowhere…I stuck it out this long, I can see it through to the end.

tranquilsea's avatar

I would want some space between asking and receiving. Something along the lines of, “it would be nice if we could ____ sometime” and a couple of days later actually get it. Seems less like a commandment then.

seekingwolf's avatar


People manipulate because it gets them what they want. If you keep giving into her, she’ll keep doing it. You have a chance to improve the marriage if you stop giving into it. Be upfront and tell her that you won’t put up with that crap. If she wants you to do things/stop doing things, she needs to come to you directly and not be a passive aggressive ninny about it. Affection should be withheld and you will not fall for that anymore.

True story: my mother is very manipulative. My father put his foot down over 20 years ago in the same way I described to you and said “no more”. She can’t manipulate him anymore and so she has since stopped trying. What’s the point in trying, right? I mean, she wasn’t going to get what she wants in that way. He was just very forceful and direct. So no more manipulation.

Men (or anyone) shouldn’t have to put up with this crap. I hear of a lot of horror stories. It’s not a wonder that so many men are so hesitant about getting into marriage with a woman. According to popular culture and stories, it sounds like she’ll change into a nagging wife who never gives him the affection he craves. Sounds like a form of slavery to me. :( Again, I’m so sorry. I really hope things will improve for you! I think you can do if you want to change it.

SABOTEUR's avatar

@seekingwolf I have put my foot down. Did that years ago…

…which is why I spend most of my time online, instead of…elsewhere.

Great advice, though! Thank you.

seekingwolf's avatar


Oh man >< I’m sorry. I wish my advice could help!!

To think of it, my father and my mother aren’t really…uh…intimate. But she sure as heck doesn’t manipulate him anymore and she treats him with respect at least. Ugh. Still what a sticky situation.

I told my boyfriend if he ever catches me being passive aggressive/manipulating, I want him to be open with me and tell me to STOP. ASAP.

CadenceBleu's avatar

“It would become tiresome, I’d start to think there was something wrong with me. I’d become suspicious, angry, snipping, hurtful and maybe even destructive.”

Well, am I am a woman in this situation, and I feel much like the gal who made that prognostication (above). My fiancé of 3 years had a history of childhood abuse (like me, but I went through years of therapy and love affection, now). I am his first long-term “healthy” relationship, and he doesn’t know what to do. He is generally awkward with physical contact, he never initiates sex, and cuddling is basically off the table except for on rare occasions. I was mostly okay with this in the early years because I believed that he genuinely loved me and was dealing with childhood issues that could be ameliorated.

But, here’s the kicker, a few months ago, after an argument (can’t recall what it was about), he went on a bender, left me and cheated. I took him back, mostly because he didn’t have anyone else, and he had been seeing a therapist and working on himself. However, NOW, I can’t stand his lack of affection. Since he cheated, it makes me take his lack of affection much more personally. I have many resentments all the time, and I can’t chase the affection anymore. Therefore, today, our relationship is terribly miserable for me. I feel very undesirable, my self esteem is nonexistent, and sadly, I don’t see this relationship lasting if he doesn’t become more affectionate with me (and experience suggests he won’t).

So, I agree with what so many of you have said – it depends on the context of the greater relationship. There must be a lot of trust, love and understanding as well as great communication to keep both partners happy, when one needs extra coddling and sensitivity.

augustlan's avatar

@CadenceBleu That doesn’t sound like much fun. Maybe it’s time to leave that relationship behind? Welcome to Fluther, by the way.

HighFunctioning's avatar

Ah, the beauty of diversity. Every couple is different. No right way or wrong way. As long as it works for you and your partner it’s all good. It doesn’t matter what people in other relationships need or do. Marriage is full of compromises. That’s what happens when two separate and distinct human beings strive to live together in harmony and love. If it’s not working for you…then you need to have the generally dreaded “honey we need to talk” conversation :)

tray12967's avatar

First I can’t spell at all so bear with me . This is so wrong ! People who are this way have no right to be with any one who is healthy this kind of behavior is not healthy at all not even for a second don’t buy in to all this 5 languages of love trash it’s a book of excess for those who choose not to love you ! if you have a problem with giving or receiving physical affection go get some help .And leave all good healthy people alone you have no right to be with any one healthy ! You are destroying the good ones and you know it !!!

tray12967's avatar

If someone is not affectionate let them go be with some one is not affectionate ether . People like this should have a big singe over there head so you don’t waist your time .People like this know that they are doing this hurting you but they will continue doing it any way. What does this say about this person ?

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