It’s not as impossible as you might think
When I was younger, I could barely picture myself in a long-term relationship. All the dates, gifts, hugs, and time spent with a partner didn’t appeal to me much, and I never understood the way other girls felt about their boyfriends. I spent my high school years telling boys I wouldn’t make a good girlfriend, and it wasn’t just a ruse to get them to back off – I meant it. As a consequence, when I unexpectedly found myself in a relationship at the start of college, there was a lot I had to learn.
I found that my aversion to affection was actually causing complications in my new relationship, and my claims of being a “bad girlfriend” may turn out to be true. I struggled to display my affection, which appeared as a lack of effort or care to my partner. He was highly affectionate, both physically and emotionally, and was willing to immediately dedicate time to our relationship. I had more difficulty, as physical affection takes me a bit to warm up to I tend to be distant emotionally and value independence a lot. I really cared for my partner, but I didn’t know how to show it without changing who I was.
It took multiple conversations and just pure time for us to strike a balance that worked even with our contrasting personalities. The main key was constant and transparent communication, which took the form of multiple tough conversations, but it was worth it. On my partner’s end, he had to tell me how my actions were making him feel. If he had not, I would likely not have known it was impacting him so much, as my behavior was normal for me. But on my end, more work was required. I needed to be clear about my love languages and the unique ways I did show affection. For me, it wasn’t always compliments, constant touch, or gifts, but rather little acts of service that could easily go unnoticed, and he often didn’t realize until I pointed it out. My affection was not as obvious, but it was there.
Beyond communication, though, I did need to listen to my partner’s needs and act on them. I showed affection in my own way, but I realized it may not be enough compared to what I was receiving. I didn’t want to change who I was, but I also knew it was not fair for me to put no extra effort in when my partner was clear about how important it was to him. Though it was new and unnatural for me, I was willing to compromise to make my partner feel loved as I did.
As I slowly warmed up to affection and put in the effort to show it better, I realized I didn’t need to change to do so. I still have a dry sense of humor, I love my independence and alone time and don’t need to be showering my partner in hugs and compliments every moment. He can understand when I am showing affection even if it is not traditional now that I’ve explained my intentions more clearly. However, I make sure that my effort and love are clear, reach out first, give compliments, limit the sassy remarks and always let my partner know he is appreciated. I honestly never imagined I could be so happy in a relationship or so successful thus far. Like anything new, it required a lot of learning on my end, and it was not easy to do so. But when you find someone you truly care for, it is crucial to strike a compromise and do whatever you can to make a relationship work. I have not given up my independence or individuality, but I’m grateful for the ways I have grown with another person, and will hopefully continue to grow.