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What kills affection in a relationship?

Affection is a vital component of any healthy relationship. It involves expressing love, care, and warmth towards your partner through both words and actions. When affection begins to fade, it can signify underlying issues in the relationship that need to be addressed. Ignoring declining affection often leads to emotional distance and dissatisfaction. Understanding the common causes of lost affection is the first step towards rekindling it.

Lack of Quality Time Together

Spending meaningful time together nurtures intimacy and affection in a relationship. When partners do not prioritize quality time with each other, affection can start to fade. Some reasons why couples spend less quality time together include:

  • Busy schedules – Work, kids, hobbies, and other obligations can leave little time for quality couple time.
  • Lack of effort – Partners may not be actively trying to schedule date nights or shared activities.
  • Distractions – Phones, social media, TV, and other distractions can interfere with meaningful interactions.

Making your partner and the relationship a priority involves setting aside dedicated time to be fully present with each other, without distractions. This maintains the closeness needed for affection to thrive.

Poor Communication

Open and frequent communication is essential for maintaining affection in a long-term relationship. When communication breaks down, partners can begin to feel distant and disconnected from each other. Some common communication issues include:

  • Avoiding difficult conversations – Partners may avoid discussing problems, causing unresolved resentment.
  • Lack of listening – Not actively listening to your partner and being present makes them feel unheard.
  • Assuming instead of asking – Making assumptions rather than asking questions can lead to misunderstandings.
  • Letting conflicts fester – Failing to address and resolve conflicts constructively can create lasting rifts.

Improving communication involves being vulnerable, listening without judgement, validating your partner’s perspective, and discussing problems openly before they escalate. This level of communication strengthens emotional intimacy.

Lack of Physical Intimacy

Physical intimacy, like sex and physical touch, releases hormones that enhance feelings of affection and bonding between partners. When physical intimacy declines, it can affect emotional intimacy. Some reasons physical intimacy may decrease include:

  • Mismatched sex drives – Differences in sexual needs can cause frustration.
  • Medical issues – Health conditions may affect libido or sexual function.
  • Body image issues – Insecurities about appearance can inhibit desire.
  • Routine – Sex may start to feel monotonous without enough variety.
  • Lack of connection – Unresolved relationship problems can reduce desire for sex.

Reigniting physical intimacy requires open discussion about each partner’s needs and preferences, willingness to be vulnerable, and exploring new ways to be intimate that work for both people. This maintains passion in the relationship.

Unrealistic Expectations

Having unrealistic expectations of a partner or relationship breeds disappointment, criticism, and loss of affection over time. Some common unrealistic expectations include:

  • Mind-reading – Expecting partners to know your needs without communicating them.
  • Complete validation – Seeking constant reassurance from a partner at all times.
  • No disagreements – Believing in a totally conflict-free relationship.
  • Perfection – Expecting a partner to think, believe, and behave exactly as you.

Adjusting expectations involves understanding that no person or relationship is perfect, openly communicating needs, allowing each partner independence, and valuing differences. This creates a healthier dynamic.

Trust Issues

Trust is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship. When trust is broken, whether due to deception, betrayal, or repeated unreliability, it severely damages affection. Some behaviors that break trust include:

  • Infidelity
  • Repeated lying or omission of truth
  • Hiding meaningful communications with others
  • Snooping on a partner’s private messages, emails, etc.
  • Repeatedly breaking promises or commitments

Rebuilding broken trust requires complete transparency, taking accountability, demonstrating changed behavior over time, and re-establishing a sense of safety and dependability between partners. Counseling may help facilitate this process.

Negativity and Criticism

Too much complaining, negativity, and criticism towards a partner chips away at feelings of affection. Some behaviors that contribute to negativity include:

  • Constantly complaining about a partner’s flaws.
  • Belittling or mocking a partner.
  • Yelling, aggression, or abusive language.
  • Blaming a partner unfairly.
  • Focusing on the negatives rather than positives.

Creating a supportive, encouraging, and positive environment where both partners actively express appreciation and praise for each other’s efforts nurtures affection.

Taking Each Other for Granted

It’s easy to take each other for granted as a relationship progresses and familiarity increases. Gradually putting in less effort, assuming a partner will always be there, and forgetting to express appreciation can corrode affection. Symptoms of taking a partner for granted include:

  • Rarely saying “I love you.”
  • Forgetting important events like birthdays or anniversaries.
  • Assuming chores and responsibilities will be handled without discussion.
  • Failing to express gratitude for your partner’s efforts.

Avoiding taking each other for granted means actively fostering an attitude of gratitude and purposefully expressing appreciation for your partner through words and actions. Surprising each other with gifts, dates, or loving gestures also helps, as does openly voicing how much they mean to you.

Loss of Intimate Connection

As the pressures of work, family life, and other obligations mount, couples can lose that intimate connection that brought them together initially. They may drift apart emotionally and live more like roommates than lovers. Signs of lost intimate connection include:

  • Interacting more as co-parents or colleagues than romantic partners.
  • Rarely conversing about anything other than logistics, schedules, and chores.
  • Pursuing separate social lives and hobbies.
  • Difficulty relating to or confiding in each other.

Reconnecting requires carving out dedicated couple time focused on each other, not just responsibilities, and re-engaging in shared interests that provide opportunities for emotional intimacy. Setting aside distractions and being vulnerable also helps rebuild intimate bonds.

Lack of Self-Care

Caring for your own needs impacts your ability to be an affectionate, engaged partner. When self-care declines, affection often suffers next. Some signs of poor self-care include:

  • Exhaustion, sleep deprivation, and burnout.
  • Depression, anxiety, or decreased self-esteem.
  • Neglecting health, fitness, diet, and hygiene.
  • An inability to manage stress effectively.

Prioritizing rest, mental health, exercise, healthy eating, and wellness rituals restores the emotional energy needed to invest in your relationship. Partners supporting each other’s self-care efforts also strengthens affection.

Major Life Changes

Navigating major life changes or transitions in a relationship often negatively impacts affection temporarily. Common transitions that affect relationships include:

  • Getting married
  • Having children
  • Buying a house
  • Changing careers or jobs
  • Relocating
  • Financial changes
  • Death of loved ones

These disruptive events create stress and demand adaptations that can strain relationships. Making the effort to check in emotionally, be understanding, and provide support during these transitions preserves affection.

How to Rekindle Affection

If you sense affection and intimacy slipping in your relationship, there are proactive steps you can take together to rekindle feelings of love and connection:

  • Identify the issues – Have an open discussion to get to the root of what is causing lost affection.
  • Prioritize couple time – Spend dedicated one-on-one time together, free of distractions.
  • Try new things together – Experiencing novel activities as a couple sparks excitement and bonding.
  • Work on communication – Listen, validate each other, and problem solve issues constructively.
  • Rekindle intimacy – Make physical intimacy, like thoughtful touch, a regular priority.
  • Practice gratitude – Express appreciation and praise for each other’s efforts verbally.
  • Seek help – Consider counseling to gain unbiased guidance on overcoming relationship challenges.

With consistent effort from both partners, affection can be restored and continuously nurtured in a lasting relationship.


Affection and intimacy are like fuel for the fire of relationships. Without enough expressed fondness and caring actions, relationships grow cold. Common culprits that diminish affection include lack of quality time, poor communication, intimacy issues, unrealistic expectations, broken trust, negativity, complacency, and major life changes. However, with attentiveness and intentional effort, couples can reignite feelings of fondness and restore bonds. Nurturing affection is an ongoing process requiring active investment in each other’s happiness. Prioritizing intimacy strengthens relationships for the long haul.