We all know relationships aren’t easy. They take time, patience, and a lot of dedication, especially during rough patches. Every relationship has its up and downs! And while you can have a long talk or go out to dinner, what if something else could help? The answer might be as simple as hugging at night. Physical touch is surprisingly powerful, especially when it is the person you love. It’s also worth more than an apology gift.
Why at night, you ask? During this time, the day’s responsibilities often wind down. And as the sun sets and the world go quiet, it comes down to just you and them. This is when the simple act of hugging is even more impactful. So instead of falling into bed without acknowledging each other, take a moment to hug. Even a quick “goodnight” hug makes an enormous difference. Over time, the practice may be what saves your relationship.
1. Increases Relaxation
There’s nothing worse than going to bed as a big ball of stress. Unfortunately, it’s also common to take out stress on other people, including your significant other. The habit will only mess with your relationship. Hugging can take control of that stress. In a 2003 study in Behavioral Medicine, researchers found that warm physical contact lowers reactivity to stressful life situations. This not only acts as a relationship mediator but decreases blood pressure and heart rate, too. With a simple hug, you can show support and empathy.1
2. Enhances Trust
For many of us, trusting other people is no walk in the park. But when you’re in a relationship, building trust is so important. Hugging can provide a groundwork for that trust. The act releases oxytocin, a neuropeptide that regulates attachment and affiliation. It’s exactly what you need to work through issues.2 3
Do remember that hugging is best when followed by an international act of trust. So consider doing something kind, like going out of your way to make a cup of tea.4
3. Enables Attention
Every hug is a chance to focus on each other and nothing else. This is especially crucial during tough times when each person just wants to be heard. Hugging draws attention to each other. Plus, you can’t exactly multi-task during a hug. It allows you to make time for physical contact, even if it’s just for a few seconds.
4. Highlights Gratitude
When the relationship develops a routine, it’s common for a person to feel underappreciated. This is especially true over many years of the same old habits. Yet, considering people crave appreciation, this can cause serious problems. Do your relationship a favor and say “thank you” more often. Top it off with a hug. As oxytocin increases, the other person will have a greater perception of gratitude and responsiveness. In turn, bonding behavior will improve.5
5. Improves Self-Esteem
Low self-esteem doesn’t just affect one person. It’s ridden with irrational fear and worries, so it can easily fuel countless arguments! Having low self-esteem is also a road-block for trust, especially if both people struggle with it. But according to a 2014 study in Psychological Science, personal touch eases those fears. Researchers also found that the effect was greatest in those with low self-esteem. By hugging it out, emotional health and security will surely improve.6
|↑1||Grewen, Karen M., Bobbi J. Anderson, Susan S. Girdler, and Kathleen C. Light. “Warm partner contact is related to lower cardiovascular reactivity.” Behavioral medicine 29, no. 3 (2003): 123-130.|
|↑2, ↑4||Morhenn, Vera B., Jang Woo Park, Elisabeth Piper, and Paul J. Zak. “Monetary sacrifice among strangers is mediated by endogenous oxytocin release after physical contact.” Evolution and Human Behavior 29, no. 6 (2008): 375-383.|
|↑3||Kosfeld, Michael, Markus Heinrichs, Paul J. Zak, Urs Fischbacher, and Ernst Fehr. “Oxytocin increases trust in humans.” Nature 435, no. 7042 (2005): 673-676.|
|↑5||Algoe, Sara B., Laura E. Kurtz, and Karen Grewen. “Oxytocin and Social Bonds: The Role of Oxytocin in Perceptions of Romantic Partners’ Bonding Behavior.” Psychological science (2017): 0956797617716922.|
|↑6||Koole, Sander L., Mandy Tjew A Sin, and Iris K. Schneider. “Embodied terror management: Interpersonal touch alleviates existential concerns among individuals with low self-esteem.” Psychological science 25, no. 1 (2014): 30-37.|