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To this point in the chapter, we have focused upon the attraction that occurs between people who are initially getting to know one another. But the basic principles of social psychology can also be applied to help us understand relationships that last longer. When good friendships develop, when people get married and plan to spend the rest of their lives together, and when families grow closer over time, the relationships take on new dimensions and must be understood in somewhat different ways. Yet the principles of social psychology can still be applied to help us understand what makes these relationships last. The factors that keep people liking and loving each other in long-term relationships are at least in part the same as the factors that lead to initial attraction.

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One of the biggest reasons that couples come to counselling is one or both partners feeling unloved.

Communal and exchange relationships

We all have different ways of showing someone that we care about them. So someone who feels that spending quality time together is the most natural way of expressing and developing affection might really appreciate it if their partner puts aside an evening for them to go on a date or have dinner.

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Or someone who feels close to their partner when being touched physically might really enjoy a back rub. How we express affection is often heavily influenced by what we learnt growing up. If your family liked spending lots of quality time together, for instance, you might value the same things in a partner.

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If there was embarrassment at expressing feelings verbally or physically, this may continue into adulthood. But there are no real hard and fast rules — we may make a choice to do things differently in our adult relationships.

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Over time, this kind of miscommunication can really drive a wedge in a relationship. As a result, they can start to feel bitter and resentful.

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You and your partner may need to explore how you both feel most comfortable expressing — and receiving — affection. If you think you might find this conversation difficult, you might like to think about the following:. For lots of couples, discovering that they and their partner are speaking different love languages is a real lightbulb moment.

If you think you and your partner could do with help talking about any of the above, Relationship Counselling can be a great way having conversations that you might otherwise find difficult.

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Your counsellor will help keep things calm and constructive, and everything you say is completely confidential. You are here Home Relationship help Help with relationships Communication Your 'love language' - how you express affection.

Sternberg’s triangle of love: three components

Your 'love language' - how you express affection. But often, the problem is as much to do with how affection is being expressed as anything else.

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Carrying out kind acts. This could be something like cleaning the car for your partner or picking up the shopping. Little or big!

Emotional intelligence in love and relationships

Spending quality time together. Physical touch. This could be walking along holding hands, giving hugs, receiving a neck massage.

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Sensual gestures to make you feel physically closer together. Saying nice things to each other.

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How can you address this? If you think you might find this conversation difficult, you might like to think about the following: Give it time and space.

Ways to get your partner to be more affectionate

It can also be a good idea to choose nice, comfortable surroundings — in the living room with a cup of tea, for instance. Focus on feelings.

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Start on a positive. How we can help If you think you and your partner could do with help talking about any of the above, Relationship Counselling can be a great way having conversations that you might otherwise find difficult.

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Related content:. Quiz: are you a good communicator?

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