Four Things to Know About Affection for Valentine’s Day

In Assistant Professor Veronica Droser’s interpersonal communication course, students are introduced to interpersonal communication, learning how to build and maintain more fulfilling relationships. She calls it “Relationships 101.”

“Affection is a foundational part of how we express ourselves and strengthen our relationships,” said Veronica Droser.

Here are four facts about affection:

1. It isn’t just for romantic relationships!

Affection is a key part of all of our relationships, not just the romantic ones. Without it, relationships are more susceptible to stress and conflict. It just looks different in different relationships. Sending a meme to your best friend? That’s affection. Calling your mom? That’s affection, too. Bringing your roommate coffee? Yep, that’s also affection. Affection is how we show our appreciation and let others know we value them.

2. It can make you physically healthier!

Giving and receiving affection sparks a chemical reaction in our brains and is linked to Oxytocin, which is also called ‘the love hormone.’ The more affectionate we are on a day-to-day basis, the more Oxytocin we produce. Higher levels of Oxytocin are linked to decreased stress, stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, and even lower cholesterol. In other words, if you want to eat a juicy burger for dinner, consider being extra affectionate during the day!

3. It looks different for everyone!

Ever wonder why some people are great gift-givers while others seem to be better at writing cards? It’s because people communicate affection differently! We all have one of five primary love languages, meaning we all accept and give love in different ways. The five love languages are:

  • Acts of service
  • Words of affirmation
  • Physical touch
  • Gift-giving
  • Quality time

If you want to communicate effectively in your relationships, you’ve got to know your love language and the love language of your relational partners!

4. We develop expectations for affection in the first year of our life!

Even before you can talk, you are developing knowledge of affection. This is because your attachment style, or the way you form relationships with other people, is developed in your formative years. This is a cornerstone of Attachment Theory, which tells us that how we relate to others is a result of our early environment, specifically our relationships with our parent/guardian. So, if your relational partner seems hesitant to commit to you, it might not be because of you – it could be because of their attachment style!

To learn more, check out CMC 273: Interpersonal Communication, which is offered every semester (and fulfills the Social Science general education requirement). The department also offers related classes like Social Influence (CMC 491), Advanced Interpersonal Communication (CMC 480), and Group Leadership (CMC 472).

February 09, 2022