The five love languages are based on a theory from Dr. Gary Chapman, who authored a book on the topic.
According to Dr. Chapman, people give and receive love in one of the following five ways: words of affirmation, quality time, gift-giving, acts of service, and physical touch.
Here, learn about the physical touch love language.
The role of love languages in relationships
Love languages represent the primary ways that we give and receive love. While your partner may be appreciative of your efforts to show love with any of the five love languages, their primary or preferred loved language will be the best way to reach their heart.
For instance, a person whose primary love language is the physical touch love language will feel your love most intensely when you show your love through this method.
According to Dr. Chapman, problems arise because people in committed relationships and marriages tend not to share the same love language.
For example, someone who prefers that the expression of love occur through words of affirmation may be partnered with someone whose love language is a need for physical touch.
What this means is that it is important to know your partner’s love language, so you can learn how to show affection in a way that is most meaningful to them.
The importance of touch in relationships becomes primary when one partner has the love language of physical touch. This love language involves a partner who thrives when receiving physical affection, such as through hugs, hand holding, kissing, cuddling, and massages.
Some specific examples of physical touch in relationships are as follows:
Holding hands with each other while walking
Running your hand down your partner’s back
Giving your significant other a kiss on the cheek
Rubbing your partner’s shoulders
According to Dr. Chapman, if the physical touch love language is primary for you, the above physical expressions will speak most deeply to you and make you feel most loved.
When a partner who prefers the physical touch love language asks for just a touch of your love, the reality is that they may be strengthening the relationship.
In fact, research shows that the release of the chemical oxytocin makes touch from a romantic partner seem especially valuable.
This helps two people in a romantic relationship to form a bond and stay committed to each other. Receiving physical touch from a partner can also improve your well-being.
Studies suggest that affectionate physical touch can reduce stress and even improve our response to stressful situations by lowering stress hormone levels and heart rate. Furthermore, touching each other reinforces the fact that the relationship is close and can create feelings of calmness, safety, and security.
When two people in a committed relationship touch each other, they also feel more psychologically connected by virtue of entering each other’s physical spaces.
In summary, having the love language of touch can have numerous beneficial effects on your relationship. The expression of love through touch can help you and your partner bond and feel safe together, which allows the relationship to grow stronger.
Understanding the fundamentals of physical touches, such as the meaning behind it and what type of touch people tend to prefer, is helpful if your or your parent’s love language is physical touch. You may be wondering, for example, what holding hands means to a guy.
The answer is that if physical touch is his love language, holding hands in public will make him feel loved and safe. You may also wonder who is more likely to use touch as a means of communicating.
The answer is that both men and women can use touch to show love. Men may be deterred from touching other men as a means of communication due to societal expectations and gender norms. Still, they do utilize touch to show affection and desires to their romantic partners.
On the other hand, women may be more likely to use touch to show support or care for their partner, such as by giving a hug or patting someone on the shoulder. In terms of where do girls like to be touched and where do guys like to be touched, it depends on personal preference.
Those who prefer the physical touch love language feel cared for and loved through physical touch, including a variety of touches. If your partner’s love language is physical touch, you may ask them what their preferences are.
Still, the chances are that regardless of gender, if your partner prefers the love language of touch, they will appreciate gestures like hand holding, a kiss on the cheek, or a massage.
If you desire physical touch in your relationships, you may be wondering if the physical touch love language is your preferred way to receive an expression of love.
Consider the following signs that your love language is physical touch:
When a guy puts his arm around you in public, you feel absolutely elated.
You find yourself craving hugs and kisses, and you may even desire hugs from platonic friends.
You don’t feel connected to your partner unless you are having frequent sex.
Cuddling on the couch with your partner while watching a movie is more meaningful to you than being told, “I love you” or receiving flowers.
Public displays of affection, such as a kiss on the lips or putting your arms around each other, will not be embarrassing to you. In fact, you thrive on PDA.
If a guy initiates a hug, you find it to be cute, and it makes you feel cared for at the moment.
You can’t help but touch your partner when the two of you are together. You may find that without even thinking about it, you caress their hair, put your hand on their arm, or move closer to them.
You feel hurt when you are out with friends, and you notice a lack of touch from your partner.
If you are stressed, you instantly feel relieved when your partner touches you.
Going out on dates isn’t your favorite part of being in a relationship. Small things like laying your head on your partner’s shoulder and having someone to cuddle with at night are your favorite things.
You are happiest in a relationship where both of you are very “touchy.”
It seems weird to you to be on the couch or in bed with your partner and not be touching. In fact, you can perceive the lack of touch as being rejection.
You find yourself complaining to your partner that they never touch you enough. Dr. Gottman asserts that whatever you complain about to your partner indicates what your primary love language is.
You enjoy the idea of your partner massaging you or rubbing your feet.
When your partner initiates sex with you, you view it as a strong expression of love.
That said, it is also helpful to know that sex is not always indicative of love. For example, people may have casual sex outside the context of a committed relationship, with no feelings of love involved.
Think of sex as being just one type of physical affection within the context of a loving relationship, but there are undoubtedly non-sexual ways to show affection by touching each other.
If your love language is physical touch, you feel loved and relaxed when your partner is touching you. Sex may fall within the physical touch love language, but it doesn’t have to, given that there are so many ways to show physical affection.
How to please a partner whose love language is physical touch
If your partner prefers the physical touch love language, it is essential to provide them with physical affection to make them feel loved and keep the relationship happy.
Show love through intimate touch
If your partner’s love language is physical touch, keep in mind that there are intimate as well as non-intimate forms of touch.
For example, hugging, kissing, sex, and cuddling are typically see as intimate forms of physical touch, and these are what probably come to mind most often when we think of the physical touch love language.
Show love through non-intimate touch
The love language of touch can involve non-intimate forms of touch. For example, when your partner’s love language is physical touch, they may enjoy physical activities such as dancing together, playing sports, or working out at the gym.
Anything that involves physical stimulation will probably be rewarding to them.
Here are some tips for pleasing them:
Do not hold back on PDA when out in public with them. A kiss on the cheek, wrapping your arm around them, or holding hands will mean the world to them.
Be sure to kiss them goodbye and give goodnight kisses.
When you’re around other people, don’t forget to maintain some sort of physical contact, as a lack of touch can be seen as rejection.
Learn what they want sexually, and make it a priority. Don’t assume that just because they prefer the physical touch love language that sex is all they desire, but it is important to have a conversation about their desires.
Offer a back rub or foot massage without being asked—the act of pausing for rubbing back while hugging can also be especially meaningful to them.
When you’re on the couch together, make an effort to cuddle, or at least hold their hand or rest your arm on them.
Be intentional about regular acts of physical touch, such as rubbing their shoulders, running your fingers across their face, or approaching them from behind and wrapping your arms around them.
While kisses on the lips are important, your partner will probably also appreciate it if you offer a kiss in other places, such as the cheek or forehead, from time to time.
Set aside a few minutes to cuddle in bed before you fall asleep or first thing in the morning before you get out of bed.
Another consideration is how to address the issue of physical touch in relationships when you and your partner are long-distance. Being physically distant can certainly make it difficult to know how to show affection with the physical touch love language.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to stay physically connected. Giving your partner the gift of a massage, or a soft blanket can help them to associate you with the feeling of physical sensation.
Video chatting can also be helpful for couples involved in a long-distance relationship, as it gives you the opportunity to see each other face-to-face and be more “physically present” with one another. You may blow your partner a kiss to mimic the sensation of physical touch.
If you’re the one who has the primary love language of touch, there are also things you can do to have your needs met. For example, you may consider getting a pet to cuddle with, or investing in a body pillow to hug at night.
Treating yourself to regular massages or a massage gun can also help you feel relaxed when your partner isn’t around to calm you with their touch. Physical exercise can also help you to fulfill your need for physical stimulation.
In a nutshell, the physical touch love language describes someone who feels most loved when receiving physical affection, whether it is in the form of hugs, kisses, hand-holding, sex, a massage, or a stroke on the arm.
People who prefer physical touch as their primary love language tend to enjoy all forms of touch, but it may be helpful to ask your partner how you can best show them an expression of love through physical touch because we all have unique preferences.
To understand the role of all love languages, including physical touch love language, in an expression of love, watch this video.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Jenni Jacobsen is a licensed social worker with a master's degree in social work from The Ohio State University, and she is in the process of completing her dissertation for a Doctorate of Philosophy in Psychology. She has worked in the social work field for 8 years and is currently a professor at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. She writes website content about mental health, addiction, and fitness.
Licensed as both a social worker through Ohio Board of Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage/Family Therapists and school social worker through Ohio Department of Education as well as a personal trainer through American Council on Exercise.