October 20, 2019
Find help. Find hope. Find solutions.
Editor's Note:  "Borderlines," BAMHS' periodic column, provides ideas and suggestions for healthy living, better family life and successful strategies for coping with life's challenges. Our newsletter is updated frequently! Check back often.
Closeness in relationships
Posted: February 12, 2009
Last Updated: February 12, 2009

Valentine’s Day is all about displaying your affection for the one you love most. Cards, candy, and gifts all help convey the affection we feel for another person, but psychologists have found the truest display of affection to an intimate partner is though physical closeness.


Instinctually, we all seek physical proximity to a partner, and rely on their continuing affections and availability. This fundamental display of affection is key to creating attachment and includes: Eye contact, touching, stroking, and holding a partner deliver the same security and comfort. When threatened, fearful, or experiencing loss, we turn to our partner for psychological comfort. Or we try to.


The core elements of love are the same for children and adults—the need to feel that somebody is emotionally there for you, that you can make contact with another person who will respond to you, particularly if you are in need. The essence of love is a partner responding to a need, not because it's a good deal—but even when it's not. That allows you to sense the world as a secure place rather than a dangerous place. In this sense, we never grow up and always need contact and connection in life to others to be psychologically happy and healthy.


It is clear that the dynamics of attachment are similar across the life span of our species. In the anger of a couple that is fighting over everything there is an aspect of a protesting child who is trying to restore the closeness and responsiveness of a parent.  Grief of adults who have lost a partner can be found in the same despair in a child who has lost a parent and experiences helplessness and withdrawal. Children need physical closeness for healthy development and adults need the same closeness maintain their health through their lifetime.  


Through the lens of attachment we also come to understand that the expression of emotion is the primary communication system in relationships; it's how we adjust mentally to closeness. 


When emotion attachment is threatened we feel alienated from a partner or worry about our partner's availability and commitment. Instead of responding negatively to perceived emotional distance in a relationship, try to reestablish closeness. Sometimes turning a relationship around is more complicated than giving a simple hug or kiss. It can take time to reestablish the communication and closeness in a relationship.


If your relationship could use counseling call Border Area Mental Health Services. To reach Border Area Mental Health Services in Grant and Hidalgo Counties, call 388-4412; in Catron County, call 533-6649 for referral; in Luna County, call 546-2174.  For CRISIS, call 538-3488 or outside Silver City, call 1-800-426-0997.

You also may be interested in these articles:
Schizophrenia: The most misunderstood mental illness
The benefits of friends
Take a moment for you
Focus better
Ways to raise your self-esteem
Build a stronger relationship
This season give time, not money
Family and the Holidays
Ward off the Holiday Blues
Teaching Self-control to kids
Co-occurring depression
Copdependency: What does it mean?
How to cope with traumatic events
Verbal barbs
Stress solutions
Ease kids’ school anxieties
Get a handle on your vacation
Negative behavior in children
How important are friends?
Sit down to a family dinner
Depression & sleep
Anorexia and Bulimia
Warning signs in children
Finding friends
Tips for a happy healthy family
Feathering the empty nest
Positive resolutions work best
Handle the Holidays
Coping with Relatives during the Holiday Season
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Help children face their fears
The ten most common phobias
Fixes for fatigue
Illness and Depression
Schoolyard Abuse
Ways to calm school anxiety
A different kind of stress
Communicate with your child
Build your coping skills
Tips for improving your family’s mental health
Border lines
5 ways to deal with stress
Supporting someone with depression
Understanding autism
Help children cope with loss
Coping with traumatic events
Marriage therapy grows up
More than teen angst
Ease the strain of traveling with kids
Mental illness: the stigma that shouldn’t be
When words hurt
Road Rage: Getting it under control
Panic Attacks
Building a strong family
Controlling Anger
Tips for a stress free morning
Communicate better in relationships
The 5 keys to stronger relationships
Severe illness can cause depression
Balancing family and work

Outpatient Services
Family Programs
Substance Abuse Services
CCSS/Case Management
Community Corrections
Community & Special Projects

Contact Us
More about our community

En Español

Try our games!

© 2008 by Border Area Mental Health Services and Putting the Web to Work. Front-page photo copyright by Bob Pelham, Pinos Altos Cabins, and used by permission. All rights reserved. For the privacy and comfort of our clients and staff, the photographs used in this site are representative and do not show specific individuals associated with BAMHS.