Know Your Love Language: Learn to Speak “Physical Touch”
Knowing your love language as well as your partner’s can save a world of miscommunication. In this series, we break down the 5 love languages to give you a speedy lowdown on how to navigate each one. This time: physical touch.
You can check out a fuller exploration of the key ideas from The 5 Love Languages in the Blinkist app, as well as a library of over 4,000 titles across 27 crucial categories. We’ve also recently added key insights from podcasts—Shortcasts—to the list, so why not open the app now and see what else you can discover?
For now though, let’s get back to exploring the most sensory of all the love languages.
The Role of Love Languages in Relationships
In his book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, author Gary Chapman describes how people primarily interpret and express love in one of five ways: receiving gifts, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and words of affirmation.
Chapman further explains how many of the problems modern couples face arise because partners often feel and express love in different ways. But, he notes, when individuals in relationships learn to communicate in their partner’s love language, they can strengthen their bond by keeping each other’s “love tank” full of fuel.
The Fundamentals of Physical Touch
Physical touch is a nonverbal love language people use to let others know they are cherished. The physical nature of this language leads some people to think it’s simply about satisfying sensual needs, but desiring physical touch is usually more about feeling seen and safe than it is about sex.
Expressions of physical touch don’t necessarily have to lead to intimacy, though they certainly can when both partners are on the same page. Regardless, when someone communicates love in terms of physical touch, that doesn’t mean they’re always in the mood. Likewise, partners of people who speak this language should never assume they have permission to touch their significant other at any time or in any place.
The 5 Love Languages
The 5 Love Languages
- 16 min reading time
- audio version available
When it comes to couples and the language of physical touch, communicating love is largely about timing. To those who value this dialect of desire, even the most subtle gesture can speak volumes if it’s delivered at the right moment. Placing a palm on your partner’s wrist, planting a small kiss on their forehead, or gently stroking their face with your fingertips can come across as incredibly loving.
How to Tell If Your Love Language Is Physical Touch
If the five love languages are new to you, and you’d like some help determining whether or not physical touch holds the key to your (or your partner’s) heart, here are some signs to help you recognize this love language.
- You’re comfortable with public displays of affection, even in front of large groups.
- You feel alone in a relationship if you’re not able to express or receive physical affection.
- You like to get massages on a regular basis and love the occasional foot rub.
- You pride yourself on being a good hugger, and you like sitting close to others.
- You look forward to kisses and intimacy with your partner more than anything else.
How to Please a Partner Whose Love Language Is Physical Touch
Not everyone innately knows how speaks the love language of physical touch, but becoming fluent in it is a skill anyone can acquire. Here are 10 tips to help you respond to your partner’s needs by communicating through physical touch.
- From walking in the park to waiting in a doctor’s office, holding hands is easy to do almost anywhere.
- Get in the habit of giving hugs before leaving home or when returning after several hours away.
- Whenever your partner is feeling blue, holding them closely can make tears disappear.
- Whether it’s in their shoulders, back, or feet, find out where your partner stores stress, and start offering massages on a regular basis.
- Using your fingers, gently comb your loved one’s locks while also gently stroking their scalp.
- Cuddle up on the couch while watching movies at home or in theaters with fold-up armrests.
- Don’t wait for your partner to express their desire for physical affection; initiate intimacy by making romantic overtures when you feel the time is right.
- Putting your hand on your loved one’s arm while they’re talking lets them know you are listening.
- While nightclubs and concerts are excellent places to cut a rug with your loved one, dancing together can be just as meaningful on your living room floor.
- If you and your partner have been together some time, try touching them in unexplored places and what they find pleasurable.
Dealing with Distance
For some couples, communicating through physical touch isn’t always an option. Business trips, military deployments, and long-term work assignments can all keep partners away from each other for months on end.
Long-distance relationships can pose a challenge for people who speak the love language of physical touch, but here are a few tactics to overcome being apart.
- Videochat — Although there’s no substitute for actual physical affection, modern technology makes it easy to maintain face-to-face communication across vast distances.
- Personal Items — Share a gently used pillowcase or slept-in T-shirt with your partner so they can still enjoy your scent while you’re away.
- Synchronized Experiences — Simultaneously stream the same movies, shows, or music to feel more together, then call each afterward to discuss your thoughts.
- Play Games — Smartphones, tablets, computers, and consoles make it possible to play countless games with your partner — some even allow you to talk to each other online.
- Get Creative — A free, web-based tool called Aggie lets artistic partners paint on a blank canvas at the same time, which can make couples feel closer together.
Learn All 5 Love Languages
Physical touch is a powerful way to express love, but there are also four other ways in which the heart communicates. If you’d like to enhance your relationships by learning about them all, launch the Blinkist app now and dive into the full set of blinks to The Five Love Languages.
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