When a Hug is Just a Hug

Sharon isn’t feeling very intimate these days. Initially, in couples counseling, her relationship with Dan wasn’t great, so she wasn’t feeling much emotional intimacy. As their relationship improved, she noticed her libido wasn’t what it once was, especially working full-time and raising three kids.

She found herself avoiding Dan’s advances. Even gestures of affection, e.g., hugs and kisses, weren’t reciprocated. She acknowledged in our last couples session responding to Dan’s affection could indicate a green light to sexual intimacy, so she leaned away from Dan’s acts of affection.

I advised Dan to let affection just be affection. He was actually repelling Sharon instead of rebuilding emotional intimacy—by bringing back affection into their relationship. If he wants to be physically intimate, he could let her know directly or use code words. Sometimes a hug just needs to be a hug.