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TENDERNESS satisfies a fundamental human need

Without love, care and affection the world would be a miserable place to live in. Tenderness expressed between people is not only a pleasure to give and receive but also satisfies a deep and fundamental human need.

Q My husband has just become unemployed. He is very edgy. How can I help?

A The uncertainty of unemployment is hard for anyone to cope with. Until recently a job will have absorbed most of his time and energy. Now he is flung back on his own resources with the added worries of loss of income and trying to get another job. It is a time for special patience and understanding on your part to help your husband adjust and regain his confidence. Small gestures of affection and tenderness will reassure him that he is still loved and needed and help him through this difficult period.

Q My wife is often tearful before her period and we frequently have rows. Can I prevent this?

A Because of the change in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle many women feel tense and irritable, less attractive and lacking in energy in the days just before menstruation. You can't alter your wife's hormone pattern but you can accept it and try to be as loving as possible during these days, even if she seems unreasonable. Get her to put her feet up, cherish and spoil her a bit. And give her a hug if she tries to argue. She's not feeling herself any more than you are when you are feeling ill.

Q Should I worry that we can't afford to buy our small children many toys?

AThe love and affection you give your children is far more important than anything you can buy them. Besides, children don't need expensive toys. They need you to playwith them and you can all have a lot offun with bits of junk such as egg cartons, cotton reels and big cardboard boxes. Buy some paints and glue and see what you can invent together. The children will remember doing these sorts of things with you with far more affection than if you had bought them an expensive toy.

We all have a gentle, tender side to O'.lr personalities, and a need to gi'e a'1G. receive affection, but some people haH' far greater difficulty in showing this tl:a:-. others. They may want to express tr.e:r tenderness to those they care about. J'-,= they feel awkward and embarrassed aE'::: have no idea how to go about it. They 'ktc::: help and encouragement from those "'.':".': are close to them, since tenderness :s a:-, essential part of loving, and sometr.::-,~ we need to show in all our dee::tc: relationships.

The real person

Tenderness is a way of expressi:-.;'-'" feelings of warmth and caring for aE: =:... tc,' person as they inwardly are, not as =~ present themselves to the outside '.: ,::

We may feel protective tovards t:-,tc:,' vulnerability, affectionate about t:".tc:r idiosyncrasies and close to the rea: °tc.: which they have allowed us to see,

Tenderness can sometimes seer..: t: ':tc far more deeply felt than, for exaE:::,7,

tie pride we might have in our children or the sexual attraction we may feel to-;ards a partner. And because we all ,'a:1: to be loved and understood for ,'m'se:';es. and not for what we look like or - ... hat ';e haw achieved, it is immensely reass'.lr:ng \'hen others feel tender and a:tect:onate towards us. It gives us st:"tcEgth to get over hurts and dis­a:J::,ointments and fresh energy to face the ' .. ;,:.rld. Life without tenderness would be a ';er' empty existence indeed.

A loving childhood

It is far easier to show tenderness to iJthers and to acknowledge our own needs for caring and affection if we have had a :)ving and secure childhood. We are then

Affection, love, caring, warmth - call it :.;hat J!OU will- the essential need to communicate tenderness is fundamental to all relationships. A man and his baby, young hn'ers and an elderly person alone all nad to sho7.:': and share this feeling.

able to act spontaneously in appropriate circumstances and because of the naturalness of our behaviour, others are likely to respond.

A new baby responds with pleasure to gentle, caressing handling and a soft, loving voice. He is frightened by abrupt or rough movements and by loud or sudden noises. Gradually he becomes deeply attached to the person, usually the

mother, who offers him most tenderness and affection. And his deep need for this kind of caring is clear. He does not become attached to her because she washes and feeds him and keeps him warm. If someone else took over these duties he would not transfer his affection to them. He becomes attached to his mother because she cuddles and plays with him and giws hi:n the tenderness


and emotional security he needs.

Sadly, however, there are some babies whose parents do not realize that they need loving right from the very beginning. Because they are not shown tenderness and affection these babies do not learn how to respond. The parents, then faced with an unresponsive child, feel uncertain and unconfident about handling him. If they then try to be affectionate and the child cries or ignores them, this unexpected behaviour may make them feel too dis­couraged to persist and the opportunity to build a close, tender relationship with their child is lost.

A child who has not been loved and cuddled and shown physical affection and tenderness, will not have learned to respond and will have less confidence in this side of his nature as he grows up. He may appear to react coldly to displays of affection from those who are fond of him, not because he doesn't care, but because he is puzzled as to what is expected of him. Will a similar show of affection on his part be welcomed or rebuffed?

Someone who is used to giving and

receiving affection since babyhood, on the " other hand, knows with confidence that .~ probably 75 per cent of the time it is ~ welcome, and when it's not it doesn't ~ really matter anyway.

s We tend, as we grow older, to put a

2 premium on words. We listen carefully to

~ what people tell us about their ideas and

feelings and come to conclusions accor­dingly. But there are means of communi­cation which are non-verbal which can tell us just as much about a person and his or her feelings towards us, if only we can delve back into our childhood and remem­ber how to read the signs learnt in the early, non-verbal years.

Children are quick to interpret facial expressions and gestures. They pick up immediately whether a person is tense and angry, however well thpy appear to be hiding it, or whether they are relaxed and approachable. Quite rightly, they realize that an affectionate gesture is often more important than what someone is actually saying to them. It indicates how that person feels towards them at the time and invites them to be relaxed and open in return. For adults, too, tenderness and affection are ways of communicating feelings which are hard to put into words.

In long-term relationships

Of course, tenderness and caring are the qualities that enable a relationship to last. Physical attraction, intelligence or common interests may originally draw people together, but by themselves they won't take a relationship very far. The partners need to be aware of both their

Sometimes, people find it hard to communicate with others much older or younger than themselves. Their lives would be richer if they made the effort to bridge the so-called generation gap.

own and each other's sensitive and emotional side and allow opportunity for expressing it. It's all too easy to see one partner as immensely capable and rational and forget that they still have needs for tenderness and reassurance.

A woman who has brought up a large family, coped with a job and with a succession of crises no longer seems as vulnerable as 20 years before, but she is just as much in need of caring and affection as ever. Similarly, the highly competitive man, who seems outwardly assured and confident, needs to show the caring side of his nature and to be able to admit to his anxieties and insecurities.

Tenderness and affection thrive with use. The more you are able to show your affection. the more affectionate you will feel. But at times. of course. we have more outlets for our feelings than at others. Parents \'ho haw delighted in small children. a!\"ays ,"anting to be hugged and kissed. climbing on their laps and draping themse!"es round them. find it hard to adjust as the children become older and more independent and shy away from such demonstrati'"eness. They will still need tenderness and affection. but it will have to be far more carefull~" timed and discreetly expressed.

Those who have had a close. affection­ate long-term relationship will feel emotionally at a loss if their partner is absent for some period. This is much more

acute in the case of a bereavement. Then hugs and affection from children and friends can be more reassuring and comforting than words of sympathy.

Teaching tenderness

Sometimes it seems as ifthose who have difficulty in expressing affection are caught in a vicious circle. Because they are undemonstrative and fail to respond, those who care about them may feel so hurt and rejected that they stop dis­playing their own affection and this makes it harder than ever for those with such problems to learn. It takes a very persistent and perceptive person to break down the barriers and enable such people to feel safe enough to explore that side of their nature.

If you have a partner who you believe is basically caring but finds it hard to express affection you may be able to encourage him or her by discussing your needs. Tell your partner exactly what needs to be done - ask for the simple acts, like a hug, a kiss or sitting and holding hands. If necessary give justifications by saying why these things are so pleasing.

It must be reassuring for your partner to find such an easy way of pleasing you, and once the barriers are broken he may be able to become more spontaneously affectionate himself. But of course people do vary enormously in their needs for affection and their capacIty to give it. If

you are someone who needs constant physical contact and demonstrativeness you may be in for a lot of heartache if you select a genuine. self-contained type, satisfied with the odd h G2:


Of course, affectioc ar.d tenderness are what transform sex :':,r:: a mechanical performance in v.'::-.:cr, partner may feel they have beer Gsed. into something personal and deer;h satisfying. Unfor· tunately mec a"e :,:":e!'c too anxious at first about their prowess, not realizing :i2.: "omen are more responsi"e to teClderness and caring than displays of virilin. That is why it can often take as much as a veal' for couples to adapt to each other's needs. Vben both are relaxed and able to display affection, whatever is los: ir. initial excitement is more than made up far by caring and tenderness.

We all ha"e 8e!':ods affeeling sexually inactive. PerhaDs '.':e are worried about work or reco"erir,g from an illness. But continuing to s".o'.': atTection and tender·

It is obvious that children will only learn to express tenderness as a natural emotion if they are encouraged by example. A vulnerable neu' baby, a dependent and easily frightened pet, a close playmate - all these are natural outlets for the expression of this most human offeelings.

ness to our partner during this time is particularly important. As long as the partner still feels loved and desirable, and realizes that the lack of drive is not because they have ceased to be attractive to us, they will be able to be more patient and understanding.

New baby

Everyone in the family needs tenderness and affection at the birth of a new baby, not just the baby himself The mother will be feeling particularly vulnerable after the emotional and physical changes that have taken place during pregnancy and the birth. She will obviously be tired and


perhaps depressed and cert2.i,.lc:

need gentle handling and unders:a.,.:L,.~ support for several months.

The father may be worried abo,~t a possible change in role and adcied responsibility. He will need under· standing and encouragement to feel a­fully involved in the baby from the start as the mother is. And of course ifthere are other children in the family they "'ill need special love, attention and affection if they are not to feel jealous and supplanted by the new arrival. Friends and relatives can be helpful here in concentrating on reassuring older children how lovable they are.


Taken from The Marshall Cavendish A  to Z GUIDE IN WEEKLY PARTS,  DOCTOR’S ANSWERS: PART 85, TENDERNESS, Page 2350 to 2353.


(Sorry. Due to the urgency of education on this site, spelling will be corrected at a later stage….All photos in the  script have been left out) 

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