Why do people hold back affection?
There are many legitimate reasons why someone might not be open to our affectionate gestures. Possible reasons someone may not be affectionate include:
- don’t feel well
So, when does it become withholding? It might be that the person isn’t unwell or preoccupied. Rather they choose to not make eye contact, not smile and show a generally negative response to our affectionate overtures. Even worse their response could be a look of disgust, recoiling in annoyance, or walking away.
Again, not everyone is going to be receptive to affection all the time. The key is whether there is a negative psychological tactic at play when they choose to deny you in the moment.
Does it make them feel powerful to see the happy look fall away from your face?
Do they get a weird smug sense of satisfaction in being standoffish toward you? If these are true, then you are dealing with someone who is likely very emotionally manipulative or immature.
Note what they claim are the reasons why they withhold from you on a routine basis and modify your relationship with them accordingly.
How to Cope
No matter what someone else’s reason to withhold, you do not have to play along with their game and let it bring you down. Sadly it is not just romantic partners that withholding happens between. Parents, friends, and coworkers can exhibit this habit too.
You do not have to play along with their game and let it bring you down.
So what do you do?
- Leave. The person has communicated to you that your joy is not important to them. Therefore, you have no obligation to make this moment about them.
- Lean on Others. Find someone else who is more likely to celebrate your accomplishments. Text a supportive friend to come and meet you. Call a family member with whom you know you can share your emotions.
- Be Your Own Best Friend. Spend some time alone, savor spending time with your wonderful self. Take a walk in nature. Head out with the dog, whom you know appreciates you and always lets you know. Have you ever noticed? Dogs very rarely if ever withhold. The cat is another story. 😊
- Journal. Focus on the positive rather than allowing the negative, withholding person to sap your joy. Or, if it helps to get it out of your system, explore thoughts about why withholding bothers you and what you can do to find comfort.
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