couple touching

Everything You Need to Know About 'Physical Touch' as a Love Language

If you’re familiar with love languages, you’re probably aware of what yours is — but what about your partner’s? Why is it important to know, anyway? Let’s take a look!

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.

This is where love languages come into play. For example, if your partner loves giving gifts, but you’d rather have more time together instead of a new present, it can cause a bit of animosity in your relationship. Understanding each other’s love language helps both of you feel more appreciated and understood.

Here is a brief breakdown of the five different love languages:

  • Words of Affirmation: The most common love language! People with this love language prefer to hear or say things like “You’ve done a good job”, “I’m proud of you”, or “I love you.” Long conversations, thoughtful compliments, and supportive language can go a long way.
  • Quality Time: People with this love language prefer quality time with others and will often go out of their way to spend time with their partners. It doesn’t matter if it’s an elaborate date or a movie marathon on the couch - they just want to be near the ones they love most!
  • Acts Of Service: People with this love language prefer to give or receive acts of service, such as cooking a meal or tackling chores.
  • Physical Touch: People with this love language prefer to give or receive love through physical touch. It doesn’t just include intimate touching, but also things like hugs, holding hands, massages, etc.
  • Gifts: People with this love language like to give or receive gifts to show love. They don’t need to be lavish or costly — just a reminder that someone is thinking about them.

While most people have a preference for one or two love languages, it’s possible for it to change over time. For example, after having a baby, a partner might appreciate acts of service more than receiving presents. Taking a chore off of their hands will mean more to them than getting a new perfume (though that’s always nice too). Bottom line? People can change, and so can their love languages.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at physical touch, the best ways to express it, and why knowing your partner’s love language is so important.

Are you and your partner ready to discover your love languages? Take our quiz on the Relish app for free during your 7-day free trial!

The Physical Touch Love Language

So, what does physical touch look like in a relationship? Hint: It’s not just sexual! The physical touch love language encompasses much more than what happens in the bedroom. What if you’re in a long-distance relationship? What if you’re still waiting to have sex? How can you show love through physical touch without being intimate?

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to show affection, and if you or your partner prefer the physical touch love language, but aren’t being super intimate yet, here are a few ideas:

  • Sitting close to each other, whether it’s on the couch, in a restaurant, or out at a party
  • Touching each other’s arms while talking
  • A good old-fashioned tickle fight (a great way to flirt!)
  • Playing with your partner’s hair
  • Giving a back massage after a long day
  • Putting your arms around each other

If you’d like to be intimate with your partner and crave physical touch, here are some ways to express it:

  • Holding hands (there are some surprising benefits!)
  • 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

So, what if your love language is physical touch, but you are in a long-distance relationship? There are actually ways to express it, even from far away:

  • 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.

The Benefits of Physical Touch

Michelangelo once said, “To touch can be to give life,” and it turns out, researchers agree. 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.

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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 always find yourself touching your partner, whether it’s a hand on their knee or arm around their shoulder
  • You appreciate gifts and words of affirmation, but a loving glance or spontaneous kiss means more to you
  • 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
  • At the end of a long day, you look forward to physical touch from your partner

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, how do you communicate that to your partner? As with any of the love languages, it’s important to openly and honestly tell your partner what you need. After all, no one is a mind reader, right?

When addressing your love language, 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!”

Remember, they might not realize that the ways they’ve been showing affection isn’t what you want. 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? When they 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

Do love languages really make a difference in romantic relationships? Absolutely! Think of it this way: imagine you just came home from work after an incredibly stressful day. If your love language is physical touch, you’d be thrilled if your partner welcomed you with a shoulder rub. If you prefer words of affirmation, you’d be happy to hear “You worked so hard today, I’m proud of you.” This is why love languages are so important! You’re able to express your admiration for each other in the best ways possible.

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. Even if you find it difficult to convey your partner’s preferred love language, it’s all about the effort! Showing you understand (and care) about their preferences speaks volumes, and your partner will truly appreciate it.

While it’s by no means an exact science, love languages do serve as an easy and relatable way to break down your relationships with other people. 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!

Explore your love languages and learn the best ways to express them with Relish. Your first week is free!

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