The love language concept originated in 1992, when Dr. Gary Chapman, a marriage counselor, noticed that a lot of his clients were not able to appreciate their partner’s display of love. Why? They preferred different ways of receiving it.
There are five different love languages: words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, physical touch, and gifts. While most people have a preference for one or two love languages, it’s possible for it to change over time. Understanding both your own and your partner’s love languages can help each of you feel more appreciated and understood.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at physical touch. Here are the top 5 things you should know:
The Physical Touch Love Language
So, what does physical touch look like in a relationship? Hint: It’s not just sexual! There are plenty of ways to show affection using the physical touch love language. Here are a few ideas:
For couples waiting to be fully intimate:
- Sit close to each other, whether it’s on the couch, in a restaurant, or out at a party
- Touch each other’s arms while talking
- Play with your partner’s hair
- Giving a back massage after a long day
- Putting your arms around each other
- Holding hands (there are some surprising benefits!)
For couples who are already intimate:
- Kissing, not just on the lips but on other parts of the body (neck, forehead, etc.)
- Cuddling in bed or on the couch
- Having sex
- Taking a shower together
For those in long-distance relationships:
- Send each other a piece of clothing with your “scent” on it (perfume, cologne, etc.)
- Blow kisses, send virtual hugs, and talk about physical touch over a video call (your imagination can work wonders!)
- Give your partner a blanket, stuffed animal or anything soft that makes them think of you
- Prioritize visiting each other and make it happen whenever you can
If someone’s love language is physical touch, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t just have to mean sexual touching. While it can include intercourse, the physical touch love language is more about the emotional boost you get from your partner’s touch, no matter how small. For married couples, keep the fire going by instituting a frequent date night, even if it means getting a babysitter to look after the kids. Here are a few dating ideas for married couples.
The Benefits of Physical Touch
Physical touch is good for your health — it’s science! Touch is associated with both physical and emotional benefits. It’s a fundamental factor in communication and bonding between humans. It’s also considered therapeutic, since it can decrease stress.
Most importantly, physical touch is a mood-booster! Touch stimulates the hormone oxytocin in our brains, which is also known as the “feel-good” chemical. It makes us happy and strengthens our connection with others. Physically, studies have shown that touch can help lower blood pressure and boost your immune system.
Signs Your Love Language is Physical Touch
So, is physical touch your love language? Here are some signs that touch is your preferred way to give and receive love:
- You’re a very “touchy” person in relationships
- You’re totally comfortable with PDA
- You immediately feel less stressed when your partner touches you in some way
- You don’t need to hear “I love you” all the time — things like holding you, cuddling, and intercourse are enough
- You notice when they don’t touch you in a group setting and it bothers you a little
It’s important to note that wanting to have sex all the time is not necessarily associated with the physical touch love language. If you crave sex a lot but prefer to hear words of affirmation from your partner as a way of expressing love, then physical touch probably isn’t your preferred love language.
Communicating Your Need for Physical Touch
If your love language is physical touch, it’s important to communicate that to your partner. When addressing it, try to make it more about you than your partner. For example, instead of saying, “You don’t express love in the way I need,” try, “I love when you find little ways to touch me, maybe you could do that more!”
Assure them that you appreciate all of the ways they show love, but be direct about what you’d like more of (and be specific). Do you like when they rub your shoulders after a long day or kiss you before leaving for work? Whatever it is, let them know how much it means to you.
Why Knowing Your Partner’s Love Language Is So Important
Knowing each other’s love languages improves your connection, helps you avoid miscommunication, and strengthens your overall bond. When you don’t learn them, it can lead to one or both of you feeling ignored or undervalued. While it’s by no means an exact science, love languages do serve as an easy and relatable way to understand each other more. A mismatch in love languages is often a source of conflict in intimate, romantic relationships.
If you and your partner are struggling to express each other’s love languages, you can always try Relish! Relish is a relationship coaching app that offers couples personalized quizzes, articles, games, and tailored relationship advice (from real experts) so that you can set and achieve relationship goals. You’ll be speaking each other’s language of love in no time!