18 Signs You Or Your Partner Is Touch Starved And Needs More Affection

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A man and woman in a vehicle look out opposite windows

Humans are wired to need touch and physical affection — it's science.

As embarrassing as it is to say, I spent most of my life begging and pleading for attention and affection. This, in turn, created a lot of social and romantic problems for me.

Though I realize it’s partially my fault for acting nuts, I also am very well aware that the people I surrounded myself with should have been kinder and more caring towards me.

It’s been a while since I’ve felt that way. However, that doesn’t stop me from remembering what a nightmare feeling touch starved can be. I felt so touched starved in my last relationship, and my ex ignoring my cries for help was a leading cause of our breakup.

What does it mean to be touch starved?

Touch starvation refers to a lack of human touch in a person's life. A chronic deficiency in receiving comforting, affectionate, or nurturing touch from others can lead to feelings of loneliness, decreased emotional well-being, and a sense of disconnection. Human touch is an essential aspect of social bonding and communication, and the absence of touch can have adverse effects on both physical and mental health.

Feeling starved for affection is gut-wrenchingly painful, and is often a leading reason as to why people cheat, act out, or otherwise behave strangely in relationships.

Speaking as someone who’s been there, I can honestly say that it’s shocking how many people don’t realize when their partners are feeling this way.

RELATED: No Affection Killing Your Relationship? How To Save An Affection-Starved Marriage

When you feel this way, it’s hard to fully describe the hurt you experience. You feel taken for granted, invalidated, and, at times, maybe not even human. Partners rarely seem to notice the worst warning signs of touch starvation until their partners are out the door.

If you want to be a good partner, you need to pick up on hints your partner may be dropping about feeling this way and show them more affection. Not doing so will cause you to lose them.

Wondering if your partner no longer feels loved or appreciated enough? Look for these signs he needs more affection and you might be able to save your relationship.

18 Signs Someone is Touch Starved

1. Getting clingy.

I realize that clinginess isn’t sexy in the least bit, but you should think about what it means if your longtime partner starts acting clingy.

If they are getting clingy, that may mean they want you to reassure them, that they miss affection, and that you want to be there with them.

2. Regularly bringing up a lack of sex and physical affection as an issue.

Physical affection is, for most people, a basic human need. If they regularly tell you that they need to have sex or that they feel like you’re not attracted to them, they’re feeling starved for affection.

They may also feel rejected by you, which, if you do too often, will make them eventually resent you and leave.

3. Begging for commitment or marriage.

This is never a good sign. Begging for commitment early on is a classic sign that you may be dealing with an abuser or a user. But I’m not talking about that “just starting to date” situation. I’m talking about dating for a year or more, with them regularly asking you why you won’t marry them.

A lot of people feel rejected when they don’t see the relationship going forward and a lot of people who feel love-starved may want commitment as a sign you love them. The continual rejection hurts, so if you don’t want to commit, it may be better to dump them before you hurt them more.

4. Regularly fishing for compliments.

If your partner is doing whatever they can to get you to compliment them, they’re feeling insecure. They may also feel like you’re losing interest, and are desperate to try to get you to look at them in a loving way again.

Speaking as someone who felt love-starved in her last relationship, this is a sign they’re legit just looking for reassurance from you, about how you feel for them. The most painful thing you can do is to ignore them when they do this, and if you do this, then don’t be shocked they leave.

5. Dropping hints about doing romantic things.

If this isn’t a cry for help, I don’t know what is. Affection-starved partners may also try to “fill the gap” they feel in love by arranging romantic trips, dinners, and dates for you as a last resort.

6. A lack of sex.

At this point, your partner probably feels incredibly rejected. They may even feel more like a roommate than someone you care about. Ask yourself if you still want to be with them.

If the answer is yes, and you still love them, you need to look into couples’ therapy and learn to be affectionate again.

7. Seemingly generalized depression.

This shouldn’t surprise you, especially if you’ve ever gained weight during depression. Affection starvation can lead to depression, which can lead to binge-drinking, eating disorders, drug use, and weight gain due to increased cortisol levels.

If you notice your partner’s healthy lifestyle unraveling, it’s one of the signs he needs more affection and may be feeling unattractive or unwanted.

8. A lack of communication about personal problems.

This sign can be an indicator of many things. It can be a sign of an affair, but it also can be because they simply don’t feel comfortable talking to you about issues because they feel like you don’t care enough to listen. If left unchecked, it can also turn into a sign that he’s checked out of the relationship.

9. Suddenly suspending daily chores.

You’d be shocked to find out how many women and men end up feeling taken for granted when they notice their partners leaving all the housework to them. A relationship is a 50/50 partnership, even when it comes to work, to keep your lifestyles afloat.

If your partner feels like they’re doing an unfair amount of work, it’s very likely they feel unloved or used. So, show them more love.

RELATED: Why Touch And Affection Are So Important In A Healthy Relationship

10. De-prioritizing the relationship.

My ex was infamous for this, and it ate away at my self-esteem until I had none left. I know for a fact that a lot of people feel neglected by their partners when their partners constantly prioritize work, kids, or the opinions of others over their so-called love interest.

If you find yourself constantly putting your spouse on the back burner, you shouldn’t be shocked if they leave.

11. Accusations or declarations of regretting the relationship.

Most people will never get to this stage and actually stay with the same partner. If your partner tells you that they think you see them as a walking wallet, or if they accuse you of using them, then you really messed up.

This has reached a boiling point and it’s often a sign that they’re going to leave or cheat.

12. Frequent fighting.

This, in my opinion, is a sign that your relationship is no longer healthy. Though this is a typical sign of abuse, if your once-sweet partner has been displaying other signs on this list, it could be that they feel frustrated, hurt, and angry over the way they feel they’re being treated.

13. Business-like conversations.

When conversations always involve logistics with kids, bills, or maybe work-related issues, it’s a sign that your partner is fed up. At this point, they’re running the relationship like a business because they no longer feel like they can possibly get the affection they want from you or because they legit stopped loving you.

14. Getting standoff-ish.

Men who feel unloved shut down and clam up. And when a man shuts down, it’s a sign that he’s feeling hurt or rejected by you. Ladies, if this happens with you, this is a good sign you might want to make him something special and ask him to open up.

15. Nagging.

Not many people actively want to nag others. It’s not a sexy quality to have, and most people who do henpeck are aware of this. If they are nagging you, especially about small things, it could be that they are trying to get you to act like a partner again.

Ask yourself if you’re ignoring their wishes or the role you used to own in your relationship. If you are, they might not be nagging you as much as they are asking you not to neglect them.

16. Boredom.

Relationships take work and that includes getting out of a rut once in a while. If you aren’t putting in an effort to get out of that rut, you may be neglecting the relationship.

This is a two-way street though, so if you want to get things on the right track, talk to your partner about what they’d want to do. This way, you can work together on staying happy together.

17. Extreme effort.

A lot of affection-starved people will do whatever they can to get their partners to act loving once more. They may shower you with gifts, take you out on date nights, ignore things that used to grind on them, or pretty themselves up for you.

If you notice effort being put in, acknowledge it and you’ll get on the right track in no time.

18. Crying or acting out.

At this point, they feel neglected to the point that it could be considered abuse. If you want to stop hurting them, either start showing them affection or let them go. Doing anything to keep them in limbo is cruel.

RELATED: True Intimacy Comes From This Kind of Touching

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer based out of Red Bank, New Jersey who writes primarily about lifestyle, food, finance, and relationships.