Affection: we all crave it at one time or another—it’s an inseparable function of our makeup. Not only do we crave it, but we also need it.
But sometimes it seems like all we can think about is getting more affection, or wishing for it if we don’t have it. Let’s talk about some reasons why you crave affection so much, and what you can do about it.
The reasons why
1) You crave what it creates
Affection creates the feeling that you’re loved, accepted, and safe. Physical touch and other forms of affection are the principal way that we as humans communicate these feelings.
Without affection, things can be really rough. We’re faced with intense feelings of loneliness, perhaps rejection, and it can lead to negative feelings and emotions.
Craving affection is a perfectly normal thing. In fact, physical touch has countless health benefits. And not just physically, either. It’s really for mental and emotional health.
This point is important and first and here’s why: Craving affection is normal, and receiving affection is healthy. This fact will help you balance these other feelings, and help you cope with the desire for affection.
It’s easy for these feelings to overwhelm us, though. I’ve struggled with this in the past due to a lack of affection in my childhood.
Finding a healthy balance is vital. Let’s continue with the points.
2) Your bar is set too high
This is a big reason why craving affection can start to be a little bit unbalanced. When your standards are set too high, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Here’s what I mean: When your bar is too high, it will be impossible for your needs to be met. You’ll always be left wanting.
And when that happens, how can you be fulfilled with the affection you do receive? Having realistic expectations will go a long way in understanding and managing your strong desire for affection.
And with standards set too high, you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone out there who will check all of your boxes. Not to say you have to settle, but if your standards are too high, it will be difficult finding the affection you crave.
Here’s a look at some other toxic relationship habits worth breaking immediately.
3) You’re in the wrong crowd
One thing my father once told me a long time ago has really stuck with me.
He said: “You’d be surprised how much time and energy people will spend trying to fit in with friends who don’t really want them around.”
His point was not to be upset that your friends don’t want you around, but rather to honestly evaluate if you fit in.
If the people that you’re trying to spend a lot of time and energy with don’t value you exactly as you are, or don’t support you in a way that is healthy and immediately clear, it could be that you’re wasting your energy.
It could be that you’re craving affection because you’re just in the wrong crowd. A friend group should make you feel loved, accepted, and warm. It may not be romantic affection, but they should also show you affection.
In other words, it should be clear that they want you around.
Here are some great tips on how to make friends as an adult.
4) Influencer couples having a bad influence
The idealized lifestyles depicted on social media aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. In fact, they are truly very formulaic. When it comes to those ideal social media couples you might spend time scrolling past and wishing you had, the reality of their life may be drastically different.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about influencers, it’s this: There couldn’t be a more fake kind of person in the world.
True, there are some influencers who use their platform for good. But most of them willfully and meticulously craft an image of their life that just isn’t true.
So if you’re idealizing the affection and intimacy you see in an influencer couple, remember that you don’t know the truth of things.
They could be seriously unhappy. They could completely lack affection. But for them, that doesn’t matter, as long as their ideal picture of a relationship pays the bills (and then some).
In that way, then, they’re really a bad influence on your cravings. You’re craving a type of affection that just isn’t real.
Here’s a fascinating look at the damaging effects of social media, as explained by a former Facebook executive.
5) Long lonely nights
One of the hardest things for me to deal with when I’m craving affection are those long and lonely nights.
After the sun goes down, you’ve nothing to do, and you can’t sleep, it can get pretty tough.
My mind tends to go to some pretty dark places, and it can be difficult. In the darkest hours of the night, find me craving affection the most.
One thing you can do is find ways to distract yourself. It sounds cliché, but finding a new hobby, whether it’s cooking or painting or anything in between, will help the time pass.
It’s also important to practice mindfulness. Being okay with being alone is one of the most difficult things to master, but once you can find peace in solitude, you’ll be happier in your relationships because of it.
And remember, there will be a time soon when the affection you crave will come around again.
6) Too many romance movies (or books)
My mother is quite the hopeless romantic. In fact, just by being raised by her, I absorbed most of her romantic notions. She read romance novels, watched romance movies, and I by assimilation gained the same ideals.
In other words, I’m a bit of a hopeless romantic myself. When I was a young adult, this became something I actually found to be a hindrance.
Why? Because life isn’t at all like the fairy tales. The ideal picture of that “forever love,” and those fateful star-crossed lovers meeting and being together for all time—it’s all bullshit.
It was rough for me to adjust to this reality.
The good news? I’ve experienced deeper, more meaningful love and affection after shedding those unrealistic notions.
Movies and media spin a different story than the reality of things. Keeping this in mind will help keep your cravings for affection tempered, and allow you to live a more satisfied and enriching life overall.
7) Waking up to an empty bed
Some of these points are here to help adjust potential flaws in your outlook, some of them are just an honest acknowledgment.
This point? An honest acknowledgment. Waking up in the morning to an empty bed can at times be one of the most difficult things.
Often, waking up alone will make you crave affection more than anything else. It’s okay to feel this way. Allow yourself to fully process the emotions, the craving, and accept that you’re feeling this way.
It’s important to not wallow, however, acknowledgment is important in growing, healing, and using our weaknesses as strengths.
8) Healing from a bad breakup
There’s rarely a time we crave affection more than while we’re healing from a breakup. We’re just so used to the affection and kindness and physical contact from the person we spent the most time with, the one we loved the most.
And then—suddenly a huge vacuum. An empty space where they used to be.
It’s a really tough transition in the best of cases. It’s only natural to feel a huge craving for affection during this time.
In other words, it’s only natural to have a difficult time adjusting to the big change. Healing from a bad breakup could be a principal reason why you’re craving affection so much.
Here’s a closer look at the normal, but sometimes ugly, stages of a breakup.
9) Dealing with a big change
Life can be intimidating and scary. Something big happens and suddenly everything is different like the rug was pulled out from underneath you. As we get older, we realize how much everything around us is in a constant state of flux.
It can get under your skin, and leave you feeling lonely, in need of something, craving love, safety, a feeling of home.
When we face big changes in our life, it’s common to crave affection. Having physical affection can ease our worries, lower stress, and give our brain the positive chemicals that help us deal with the difficulties of life.
10) The void of physical touch
Physical contact is such a vital part of our health as human beings. We’re social creatures, geared to have physical contact in all kinds of different ways.
A void of physical touch can bring on waves of cravings for it. We just want affection, we feel the keen gap in our lives where we haven’t had physical touch.
On a deeper level, a lack of physical touch in our childhood can lead to an overly active need for affection as adults. Because of that lack, we constantly crave affection, and the affection we do get isn’t enough.
It’s important to understand these things about ourselves so we can get the help and the healing we need to be happy and healthy.
Everyone deserves to feel loved.
Here are some early signs that you’ve found “the one.”
11) You have a lot of love to give
This point rings true for me. Often I crave affection so much because I just have so much love to give.
For me, I crave to give affection as much (if not more) as I crave getting it. I just have so much love to give to people, and one of the primary ways I do that is by showing affection.
The same may be true for you. It’s so important to find constructive ways to give your love to people, even if it isn’t romantic, even if it isn’t physical affection.
It will help you better understand your cravings, and help you to be more satisfied overall.
12) People are too busy for you
Sometimes we crave affection because of variables outside of our control. We may be at a point in our life where there’s just not that much keeping us busy. We’ve got a steady routine, but hardly a busy one.
Our friends, however, might be much busier than we are. If you find that your friends, even your significant other, are far busier than you, it can be difficult to deal with your desire for affection.
It could be the main reason you crave affection so much, actually.
13) You haven’t learned how to love yourself
This is a big one. Our cravings for affection often come from a disparity about what we wish life was like, and what it really is.
Which, if you think more deeply about that disparity, it most often arises from the fact that we aren’t being honest with ourselves.
I spent a winter in the mountains alone a few years back. It wasn’t something that I chose for myself, but my circumstances in a way forced it.
I don’t think I can express how difficult that was for me. I had never been that alone before, and I had to do a lot of honest evaluation of myself, who I was, and why I wasn’t okay with being alone.
I wasn’t good at loving myself (I’m still not the best, but I keep trying). It was this inability to love myself that made being alone so difficult.
I can say that I never craved affection more than I did through that winter. However, I will also say that it was the best thing that could have happened for me. I learned so much, and since then every relationship I’ve established has been more enriching, fulfilling, and profound.
Here’s a great article with some valuable steps to start loving yourself right away.
14) A need for validation
Often the need for affection is directly linked to a need for validation. This in itself isn’t a bad thing. We all need to feel validated for what we’re doing.
To put it another way: being seen feels nice.
Often this is the main reason you might be craving affection. You want to be seen. But remember, it starts with yourself.
Bending over backward and begging for validation will only upset others, and leave you feeling more isolated and lonely.
Here’s the bottom line: You are more than enough, you are entirely valid. When you are sure of this inside yourself, you’ll soon find affection in so many places.
Here’s a great look at a bunch of subconscious signs that someone is totally into you.
15) We all need affection
At the end of the day, you may be craving affection for the simple reason that you need it.
You’re not alone in needing it, either. In fact, we all need and crave affection. There doesn’t have to be any more complicated reason than the simple truth that every human needs affection.
So don’t guilt or shame yourself if you’re feeling a strong need for it. Be honest with yourself, though, make sure that you’re craving it for health reasons, and that your desires aren’t taking over your happiness or quality of life.
The question still remains, though: What can I do about it?
What to do about it
Break out of your habits. It’s important to shake things up when you’re feeling down, in a rut, and frustrated with the way things are. Try something completely new, challenge yourself.
In your experience doing so, you’ll learn something new, perhaps find a new passion, and likely meet someone who can fill that void of affection. At the very least, you’ll have put the cravings out of your mind for a while.
Talk to strangers. Making new connections is so often easier said than done. I’ve found great solace in meeting new people whenever I can. I’ve cast aside the notion that “this person might be the one who fills all my needs and cravings for affection.”
Instead, I focus on getting to know them and finding ways that I can express even simple affection or kindness for them. You might be surprised how well it fills the void you feel.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Affection and intimacy start with your ability to be vulnerable, the ability to open up to others. Whether it’s a romantic relationship or a friendship, a close bond can be forged once you allow yourself to be vulnerable.
When you’re vulnerable, you’re giving those close to you the ability to show you affection. In a way, then, it’s impossible to receive affection without first being vulnerable.
Learn to be okay with yourself (alone). We talked pretty in-depth about this in a previous point, however, it’s something that I always have to keep working on. I make a concerted effort to show myself affection, even if I’m getting it in other places.
This is honestly one of the biggest keys to helping you deal with your cravings for affection. Show it to yourself first. When you show yourself affection, you’ll be happier, more fulfilled. The ability to be okay with yourself is the building block for every healthy relationship.
Relearn your ideals. The toxic and unreal ideals that society and media push on us can be a good escape at times, but more often than not they give us a warped idea of what it means to be in a relationship, be affectionate, and be happy.
Make sure to cast these negative and unrealistic ideas aside. The affection you find once you do that will be organic, real, and surprisingly fulfilling.