Of the five Love Languages, physical touch is the most primal, and therefore one of the most powerful.
Before we develop language, before we understand quality time, acts of service, or gift giving, we experience touch.
We’re held and cuddled by parents and caregivers, and when we felt scared or alone as babies, a hand on the back or a gentle caress was all we needed to make us feel that we were safe, and loved.
For many people, that never quite goes away, and the need for physical touch to receive – and show – love and affection is the most important thing in their world.
Although sexual intimacy falls under the physical touch category, it’s usually not the main priority.
In fact, for most people who thrive on this love language, it’s non-sexual physical contact that they crave the most.
What Does It Mean If Physical Touch Is My Love Language?
If this is your primary love language, being hugged, cuddled, and caressed is what makes you feel loved by your partner.
In turn, you love to give physical affection to your loved ones, and you may be known for giving the best hugs in the world.
You might squeeze your console-playing kid’s shoulder when you pass by to make a brief but sincere connection with them, and give them a big hug when they come home from school.
Similarly, you may spend hours brushing and cuddling your animal companions because you both thrive on that kind of closeness.
When it comes to intimacy, you’ll feel absolutely adored when your partner is physically affectionate with you.
Sure, kissing is nice, but it likely gives you the warm fuzzies inside when they reach for your hand when you’re out in public together, or they snuggle in close and spoon you first thing in the morning.
For you, “home” is in your partner’s arms, and that’s where you feel happiest, and most adored.
As a result, it may be incredibly frustrating, and even lonely for you, if your primary language is physical touch, and your partner’s main language is words of affirmation, or acts of service.
This is because when you’re upset or feel like you want to connect with your partner, all you want is a hug… but their attempts to make you feel better might be sweet little love notes, or filling up your car with gas.
You thrive on touch, and the lack thereof can leave you feeling neglected, sad, and hurt.
How To Express Care If This Is Your Partner’s Love Language
If this is your partner’s main love language, you’ll know straight off.
They likely touch you repeatedly during conversations, and either ask for hugs and cuddles often, or just dive in and snuggle in close whenever possible.
They might rub your back or shoulders if you express that you’ve had a stressful day, squeeze your hands during a conversation, or stroke your hair when you’ve crawled into bed for the night.
Your partner is an incredibly loving, affectionate person, and if they dote on you this much, then they love you to the moon and back.
That said, this level of physical affection can be very difficult for you if touch is your least favorite love language.
After all, if your partner thrives on kisses and cuddles and you don’t particularly like being touched all the time, it can be a huge issue between you.
In fact, you may discover that you’re feeling “touched out,” and retreat to a place where you can get away from your partner’s constant hugginess.
Many people who aren’t fond of enthusiastic physical touch can balk and turn away from those whom they consider to be overly physically needy, or invading their physical space.
This is absolutely understandable, but can also be very hurtful to the one who’s trying to reach out.
To them, having their physical expressions of their loved rebuked time and time again can make them feel horribly rejected.
In fact, to someone who thrives on physical affection, withholding it can actually feel like abuse.
This may sound extreme to you, but consider how orphaned children who don’t receive enough physical affection actually fail to thrive.
They’re underdeveloped physically, tend to suffer from severe anxiety and depression, and some even die from lack of holding and tenderness.
If you’re okay with a lot of physical affection, great! Then you can reciprocate your partner’s gestures with enthusiasm and sincerity.
Furthermore, you don’t have to wait for them to initiate physical touch: you can just go ahead and hug them.
Examples Of Physical Touch
We’ve touched upon some of these (pun intended) throughout the article so far, but let’s gather them all in one place with a few extra examples to draw from.
– Spooning in bed
– Putting your arm around them in public
– Touching their hand/arm while talking
– Hand holding
– Touching their back when passing by
– Squeezing their shoulder to be encouraging
– Cuddling together on the couch while watching TV
– Touching your forehead to theirs during a hug
– Draping legs over one another while reading together
– Back rubs/massages
– Resting your heads on one another’s shoulders
– Hair brushing
– Contact/partner yoga (also known as acroyoga)
Try To Communicate Your Needs To One Another
Talking about physical intimacy (or the lack thereof) can be very awkward to navigate.
This is because asking for physical affection seems to have a bad rep in our society, but it doesn’t have to!
This is where open communication comes in handy.
For example, if your partner seems a bit down, ask them if they’d like a hug.
Something as simple as: “you seem a bit low, love… would a hug cheer you up a bit?” can work wonders.
Similarly, if you’re the one who needs or wants physical touch in the moment, ask your partner if they can hold you for a moment.
They might be completely wrapped up in their own headspace and haven’t really clued into the fact that you need that kind of comfort, so letting them know by expressing your needs is important!
Should you find yourself touched out by your partner, as mentioned earlier, try to communicate that to them gently instead of turning from them or pushing them away, which can be devastating for their self esteem and emotional well-being.
Instead, let them know gently that you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed and need a bit of personal space, but you’d love to cuddle with them on the couch later.
Reassure them how much you love and appreciate them, and that you’re not rejecting them: you just need some alone time. This goes a long way to avoiding hurt feelings.
The last thing you want is to turn away from their advances so often that they feel that they don’t even want to try anymore.
And vice versa, if you’re being really physically needy and not giving them the space they need, you might find that door closed permanently.
Communication and balance are vital, here.
In an ideal world, people whose primary love language is physical touch would pair up with another who speaks that language first and foremost, as there will be no lack of hugs and cuddles throughout their relationship.
If this is the kind of pairing you’re experiencing, then that’s wonderful! There will be no lack of snuggles and intertwinings, and you’ll both feel reassured by each other’s physical affection.
As an additional note, if you find yourself pulling away from your partner’s physical affection because of traumatic things you’ve experienced in your past, please try to talk to them about it… especially if that’s a topic you haven’t really broached with them.
If they understand that their affectionate outpourings are triggering you because of past hurts and traumas, they’ll be less likely to take it as personal rejection.
They’ll have a greater understanding of where you’re coming from, and you can both adapt and move forward when you feel more comfortable doing so – without feeling pressured or obligated, which might make you shut down and retreat.
Remember that when they’re opening their arms to you, it’s an invitation, not a demand.
Ways For Physical Touch Lovers To Deepen Connections
People who value physical affection will often enjoy other physical pleasures as well.
We’re not just talking about sex here, either. Long baths, good food… everything that revolves around the pleasures of the senses will likely be top priority.
As a result, there are many ways that you can deepen your personal connections with one another.
Although it can be quite intimate, a massage doesn’t need to be sexual in nature.
Consider setting aside a “spa day” together, in which you lounge around in your robes, exchange full body massages, and enjoy some sparkling wine or cider.
Alternatively, you could play a game in which you either feed one another while blindfolded, or eat together in the dark.
The results can be absolutely hilarious, and it’s best to choose finger foods that won’t spill all over the place, but you’re sure to have a ton of fun throughout the process.
Gift Ideas, And Thoughts About Sincere Physical Connection
Touch can be either platonic or sensual, so if you’re aiming for gift ideas to celebrate physical affection, you have a lot of options to choose from.
If you two have determined that you enjoy giving and receiving massages from each other, amass a collection of various massage oils and butters in different scents.
Try lavender to help you relax before bed, or sandalwood if you’re aiming for something more sensual.
Alternatively, if your personalities are a bit more silly and playful, you could do a quick search on Etsy for “couple mittens”, which allow you to have skin-to-skin hand-holding contact outside without getting frostbite.
Or buy the Twister game and have a ridiculous amount of fun playing that together.
There are many ways to be more physically intimate with one another, without resorting to actual sex.
Furthermore, touch is so very personal that we need to take boundaries and consent into consideration.
What one person may consider to be natural and loving might be overwhelming or uncomfortable to the other. And this can change from one day to the next!
It’s absolutely okay to explain that you don’t want physical touch for any number of reasons, just as it’s absolutely okay for your partner to explain that to you in turn.
In the Western world in particular, physical touch is extremely hypersexualised.
People are taught early that physical affection is quite taboo: some kindergarten children are even prevented from holding hands because teachers and parents consider that to be inappropriate behavior.
Meanwhile, in other parts of the world, it’s absolutely normal for adult friends of any and all genders to walk arm in arm or hand in hand, and to cuddle in close together during casual conversations.
As you can imagine, this particular love language is a bit more difficult to navigate than the others.
It’s hard to find that magical middle zone between enough and too much, appropriate and inappropriate, welcome and unwelcome.
In fact, many people refrain from physical affection specifically because we’ve been taught that it’s inappropriate and unwanted.
For people whose main love language is physical touch, the standoffishness they receive from friends, family members, and partners can be excruciating.
Consider your main love language, and think about how you’d feel if the rare times you received love in your language, the efforts were cursory at best.
Instead of a long letter from your beloved, you got a sticky note. Instead of quality time spent together, you got to hang out with them for two minutes, but they were on their phone the whole time. Birthday present? Yeah, here’s a gift card.
That would be rather devastating, wouldn’t it?
If you and/or your partner thrive on physical touch, please be sure to offer it as often as you can, and try to receive/reciprocate with grace and enthusiasm.
Communicate with one another to discover which types of touch work best for you, which don’t, and how you’d best like to give/receive physical affection.
More in this series:
- Words Of Affirmation Love Language
- Acts Of Service Love Language
- Receiving Gifts Love Language
- Quality Time Love Language