Is Physical Touch Your Love Language? I Found Out What That Means

Plus, how I express and show it

Is Physical Touch Your Love Language: High angle shot of an affectionate young couple looking at each other while being playful under a blanket in their bedroom
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If you asked any of my friends and family, they’d tell you that they would never have expected me—who’s often closed-off and guarded—to be the mushy-gushy or touchy-feely one in a relationship. And honestly, I would’ve agreed until it dawned on me that perhaps physical touch is my love language. There’s nothing I love more than reaching for my partner’s hand at the dinner table to show assurance and adoration, and I unabashedly adore a good make-out session in the park or anywhere for that matter. If any of this strikes a chord, then chances are physical touch is your love language, too.

And in case you didn’t know, physical touch is much more than just frequent kisses and afternoon delights. Here’s everything you need to know about the physical touch love language so you can better understand how you express love, plus how to make your love language work if you’re long-distance. In other words, let’s get physical.

Understanding the 5 Love Languages

Originally coined by marriage counselor and author Gary Chapman in his 1992 best-selling book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, the five love languages encompass traditional ways people tend to intimately communicate. They are:

  • Words of affirmation
  • Quality time
  • Physical touch
  • Receiving gifts
  • Acts of service

Here you can read an in-depth breakdown on the five love languages that are considered to be the main ways most people express love—though there is evidence that there are two new love languages to watch out for, which I discuss with a few relationship experts and coaches. In a nutshell, love languages are a way to distinguish how you receive or show love. Understanding which one—or which few—you have a kinship with can foster a healthy relationship, improve intimacy, deepen interpersonal understanding and sprout growth.

What Is Physical Touch?

Alexa, play “Hands to Myself” by Selena Gomez, because that’s exactly what you can’t seem to do. In fact, you might find that you prefer conversing through your body more than sitting down for a heart-to-heart. Unlike with other love languages, those who fall in the physical touch category neither need a diamond necklace nor hope to come home to an empty dishwasher and clean sink. They do, however, look to communicate emotions through the body, aka physical touch.

Physical touch can be as intimately personal as sex or as subtle as a squeeze of the knee at a large dinner party. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. If your partner isn’t aware that physical touch is your love language, you might find yourself in a relationship where you aren’t satisfied like I did (more on that in a second). Making them aware of this can make all the difference, as they’re now able to read the room or gauge situations to recognize when you need to hold hands to feel a sense of security, admiration and support.

In the beginning of my relationship, I didn’t quite know how to express that I needed more: more hugs, more handholds, more waist grabs. So, I did what I thought everyone could do: I showered him with physical touch in hopes that I’d get it in return. As you can imagine, this didn’t pan out how I wanted it to. While he loved the extra cuddles and leg brushes, I was left feeling more frustrated than when I started. It wasn’t until we sat down one-on-one for an honest conversation where I practiced a bit of vulnerability and told him that my love language required him to show me more affection with his body. From his perspective, he was showing enough physical touch, but from my perspective, no amount is ever too much.

As you can assess from my relationship hiccup, when it comes to the physical touch love language, ensuring that there is a consistent physical component between you and your S.O. is vital to maintaining a healthy relationship where you feel seen, grounded, understood and, above all else, loved.

Signs Physical Touch Might Be Your Love Language

Below, I’ve included a few markers to reference as starting points—all which may reveal that your love language is physical touch—so you can figure out what you need to strengthen and grow your current or next relationship.

  • You feel loved, safe, secure and affirmed when touching (holding hands, hugging, massaging, kissing, etc.)
  • You’re a hugger
  • You think that kissing is another way to say ‘I love you’
  • You’re comfortable showing affection anytime, anywhere; PDA is kind of your thing
  • Your show remorse, peace, truce or forgiveness by embracing after arguments or disagreements
  • You feel closest with your partner when you’re physically intimate

6 Ways to Show Physical Touch

It may seem straightforward to some, but for folks whose love language isn’t physical touch, it’s important to clarify exactly what this means. Though it can be extremely aggravating or frustrating, sometimes spelling out your needs is essential to avoid resentment or miscommunication in your relationship.

The hard truth of the matter is, if I never expressed my frustrations or my need to receive more physical touch with my boyfriend, then the love language that I needed to thrive in that relationship would never have been met, slowly leaving me dissatisfied and chipping away at our bond. Worst case scenario, it could have morphed into one of the main toxic traits that can stem from physical touch: avoidance. That’s why overcommunication is your best friend. Have tough conversations that get to the nitty-gritty details like: Can you kiss me more in public? Can you brush against me when we’re at parties? Make sure to ask questions that check in with how your partner is feeling, too. Think: Does all this touching ever encroach on your personal space? Does expressing physical touch in public make you uncomfortable?

It’s important to understand all the ways in which physical touch can be shown—both intimately and non-intimately—so you can voice what you need more of. Below are a few ways to show and feel love when physical touch is your love language.

1. Make It a Priority to Hug and Embrace More Often

Let’s face it, you love when your partner wraps you in a bear hug every time you come home from work. They’re warm, cozy and smell like hints of full-bodied whiskey and bouquet of fresh roses. If you’re in a new relationship, talk to your partner and gauge their comfort level when it comes to hugs so they don’t misconstrue your embraces as a sign of clinginess, insecurity or over-affection.

2. Kiss and Make Out Every Day

There’s nothing you love more, physical toucher, than when you kiss your partner. On top of being just downright fun, kissing is an enjoyable way you register how much you’re valued and appreciated…and guess what? If you want to avoid the dreaded bristle reaction and save your relationship, science points to making out. Whether it’s a thank you peck after you do the dishes—because acts of service is their love language—or a steamy hello kiss, each touch of their lips tells you, “I care.”

3. Give a Massage Every Now and Then

OK, you probably shouldn’t demand massages every night, but getting a simple stroke of the leg or scratch of the arm can mean the world to you. And let’s talk about that time they ran their hand in circles along your lower back at your friend’s summer soiree. It’s safe to say you got the best kind of chills and quickly pulled an Irish exit to get to the bedroom.

4. Spoon or Cuddle in Bed

Whether you had a tough day in the office or you just woke up from the best sleep of your, a quick cuddle session can boost those feel-good serotonin levels.

5. Make Time to Make Love

Whether you’re one year into your budding romance or coming up on 40, there’s so much you learn when you explore each other’s bodies…and you can’t get enough of it. If you’re looking to spice things up in the bedroom, suggest a new position or direct their hands along your body to discover and unlock new pleasure spots you were both oblivious to. Don’t forget to encourage them with positive words of affirmation either, so they know that you like it.

6. Hover Touch in Public Settings

A little less obvious than the aforementioned examples—but nonetheless important—hover touching is a way to subtly show physical reassurance in public or private settings. This may look like resting your arm against your partner’s arm while sitting on a friend’s couch or grazing backs when nearby. Footsy? Game on. The point of this one is to send electric shockwaves through their body that says in the steamiest Bridgerton fashion, “I burn for you.”

How to Show Physical Touch in Long-Distance Relationships

OK, all the above sounds great and all except for the fact that you’re in a long-distance relationship and expressing physical touch is next to impossible considering the literal space between you two. No worries, I’ve been there before, and I have good news. While LDRs can strain even the strongest of couples, it’s entirely possible to work through these roadblocks with constant communication. Since you’re not in the same room, let alone the same city or state, closing that gap is critical if you want your love language to be met.

I spent much of my previous relationship long distance with me in California and him in New York, and while it ultimately didn’t work out in the long run, I have nothing but love for him and look back fondly and admirably at the things we implemented to try to make it work. Here’s what I found worked for us, plus a few that I would add in if I could do it all over again.

Try to sprinkle video calls in every week to mix things up. Not only will you get the chance to see their physical features, but this gives them the opportunity to blow kisses, stare into your eyes and express the desire to touch you. If you can learn anything from your favorite erotic novel you keep stashed in your bedside table, it’s that listening to someone talk about their longings can be just as satisfying as living it out. Plus, it makes that physical touch that much sweeter (and hotter!) the next time you can reunite. The same goes for texting. Initiate a sext sporadically to remind them that you’re thinking about them a little more than usual.

If you’re looking for something a little less Fabio and a little more Keanu Reeves from The Lake House, pose the idea of sending a personal item back-and-forth to hold you over until the next time you see them. Sweatshirts, socks, T-shirts, necklaces and whatever else can feel like a touch of their skin on yours and become a sweet way to speak your love language from afar.

Everyone Has a Love Language: What's Yours?

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Associate Fashion Commerce Editor

Stephanie is a natural savant in the fashion, beauty, and dating & relationships beats. She graduated with a bachelor of arts at the University of San Diego, where she majored...