The Five Love Languages: Part 3

Physical Touch: Not as Sexy as it Sounds


Welcome to part three in the Love Language article series.  I hope that you have enjoyed learning more about words of affirmation and acts of service.  As refresher, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate is a 1992 book by N.C. native Dr. Gary Chapman.  The book outlines five general ways that romantic partners express and experience love, which Chapman calls “love languages.” According to Wikipedia, the book sold 8,500 copies in its first year, four times what the publisher expected! The following year it sold 17,000, and two years later, 137,000. It has been on the New York Times Best Seller list since August 2009. A new, revised edition of The Five Love Languages was released on January 1, 2015

The five “languages” are:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch
  • Gift Giving
  • Quality Time

So, let’s get physical!  (And if you picked up on the Olivia Newton John reference there, more power to ya’!)

Physical Touch is the most misunderstood of the love languages because it extends past just your relationship with your partner. If physical touch is the language you “speak,” you are likely expressing yourself through touch with friends, family, and in some cases even strangers.  Not in a sexual way or even an emotional way but a partner with even the slightest hint of insecurity may be quick to misinterpret your innocent communication.

So, let’s back up. The physical touch love language is defined as 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 appreciated and safe than it is about sex.

Not sure if this is your language? Here are some of the signs that it may be:

  • 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.

Did you read those signs and think, nope, that’s definitely not me but that sure sounds like my spouse!  Then knowing how to be a good partner with someone whose language it is can go a long way to enhancing your commitment to each other.

Start with something I call the Triple H Approach:  Hands, Hugs, & Holds!

  • Walking the dogs together? Take your partner’s hand for a portion of the journey. It’s a small thing but can feel big to a person who might be craving the feel of your touch.
  • Hugs at the door ALWAYS! In my house, it’s an unspoken and strongly adhered to rule: nobody leaves the house without a hug and kiss goodbye.  Again, a small gesture but it makes the giver and receiver feel cherished.
  • Hold them. Is your partner venting about a bad day? Take them in your arms.  Are they celebrating a great day?  Put your arms around them as you cheer! Just sitting side by side binge-watching Season 4 of Ozark? Get a hold of your partner’s feet and rub them.

In my home, I am happy to say that this is a language we both speak!  My husband and I are almost annoyingly affectionate which resulted in ample eye rolls and EWWWWs from our son when he was a kid. While physical touch has a reputation as the most misinterpreted love language, in my opinion, it’s the simplest language to learn. After all, what could be easier than reaching out to hold the hand of that cherished person who shares your days with you?


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