Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Physical Touch Love Language: Misunderstood

Let me start out by saying that my love language gets a lot of grief- Especially from teenagers. So, let me make something VERY clear: THIS DOES NOT HAVE TO DO WITH THE BEDROOM. Thank you.

The love language theory has five "languages" that people use to express and perceive love in their relationships with others. They are gifts, words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, and physical touch. One isn't better than another, they're just different. Knowledge of the love language theory has definitely proved helpful to me in my relationships with family and friends. I know that I need to let Friend A know that I love her by giving her a present that I made, while Friend B needs to go to lunch, just the two of us. I want to talk a little bit about my love language and what it means to my fellow "touchies", to clear up any misunderstandings about us.

1. We like hugs.
It's been said that humans need seven hugs a day to remain healthy. Hugs are a way to show someone that they are protected and supported. Do not, EVER, force a hug on someone that is not showing interest. It's just as violating as having someone breathe down your neck from 2 inches away. If you aren't a touchy, but have touchy friends/family, try to accommodate a little and give a relaxed but stable hug. You're sending a message to your touchy friend who will read into your hug (without trying to). Hugs that are too tight are smothering, while hugs that are stiff are insincere. A hug that is barely there (or done from 3 feet apart), is again showing that you don't really want to be touching this person. Nothing hurts more than having a good friend tense up when you give them a hug. You are expressing something to your touchy friend when you hug them that is more effective than saying it out loud: I'm here for you/I'm sorry this happened/I love you/ I don't want you to go/You make me happy/I trust you/I'm scared/I'm worried/I'm proud of you/I'm so grateful for you. I've given and received these messages through hugs before.

2. High fives are great.
It's a simple way of showing friendship without the intensity of a hug. If a notorious touchy gives you a high five instead of a hug, don't be offended. Remember, hugs mean a lot to a touchy. High fives do too. It's a way of saying "Great job!" or "That was awesome".

3. Hand holding is a bit tricky.
It's a way to show anything from friendship to romantic commitment. This is where touchies split a little, which makes things very confusing for both us, and everyone else. There are some touchies who will want to hold hands with everyone. They just see it as another way to show friendship (like a high five). For me, I link hand holding with a deeper friendship. I will only hold hands with girlfriends I'm really close to, and guys, well, I will not hold a guy's hand unless I really feel like I'm interested in him. I equate hand holding with "I respect and trust you, and really enjoy spending time with you." It is something special to me. You can tell exactly what someone, guy or girl, is thinking by the way they hold your hand, and it is a special way to connect with a friend.

4. Face touching.
I have some friends who get really creeped out when someone touches their face. DON'T. If you are close friends with a touchy, this is a way that they show that they really care about you. I'm not talking necessarily about a long, lingering caress, but maybe a pat on the cheek. It's again a sign of affection and friendship.

5. Arms around the shoulder.
....Are excellent. They are extremely comforting, and always make me feel safe. I love holding people. If they need to cry, I love to hold them. If I need to cry, I want someone to hold me. All I need is an arm around the shoulder, and life is better. It's sweet and innocent, and just.... Well, love.

This love language website had an article on the physical touch love language:

"Disappointments are a part of life. The most important thing you can a time of crisis is to love. If her primary love language is physical touch, nothing is more important than holding her as she cries. Your words may mean little, but your physical touch will communicate that you care. In a time of crisis, a hug is worth more than a thousand words. Physical touch is a powerful love language" (

6. Poking, teasing, etc.
Sometimes, this is ok. If you are good friends and your touchy friend does these things to you, it's like tiger cubs "fighting" their siblings. But if there is any, and I mean ANY, tension in your relationship at the time, do not, and I mean DO NOT EVER, physically "fight" someone. It will hurt their feelings far more than any insulting words could. It is the WORST thing you could do. I have had times when I will have to sit by myself for a while to emotionally recover from a "fight". No harsh words are spoken, and there probably won't be bruises, but there can be lasting consequences that will last longer and hurt deeper than a bruise. The words "I love you" are empty if someone just took their anger out on you. DON'T EVER PLAY-FIGHT A TOUCHY IF YOU HAVE FRUSTRATION WITH THEM. It is abuse. They feel the anger.

5. Pushing, shoving, etc.
A physical touch speaker will feel literally "cast off" if you push them. I once was dancing with a young man at a church dance. He was a good friend of mine, but we had been a little more distant than normal. We laughed and joked during the dance, and had fun talking, but at the end, he pushed me away from him. He was totally joking, but it HURT. Again, it wasn't physical pain, but it was not nice. DON'T EVER PUSH A TOUCHY. End of story.

6. Hitting, slapping, lack of touching, etc.
This is serious. This is abuse. A rule to live by: Don't hit anyone. But this is especially true for a touchy. Please don't ever take your anger out by hitting or slapping. It is a horrible thing that makes physical touch speakers feel worthless. Now, you may have noticed that I placed "lack of touching" on the same level as domestic violence. I did that completely on purpose. It is the same thing. If you avoid touching your touchy loved one, they will feel the same way as if you hit them. Think about that.

I hope that this makes things a little less confusing for you. Don't freak out and think that every time you hug a friend that they're going to think you're in love with them. That is false. It's just that now, when a friend is having a bad day or has some great news, give them a hug or put your arm around them. When you're watching a movie with a friend, don't move to the other side of the couch. Sometimes just sitting next to them will make them feel loved. Some people don't like touching others. Tough cookies. If you want to have a relationship/friendship with a physical touch speaker, you're going to have to open up a little. If they are a good friend, they will return the favor and try to show you love through not only PT but through yours as well. (i.e. My best friend is words of affirmation. Throughout the years, I have gotten better at telling him with words that I value his friendship and how awesome I think he is or at knowing what to say in a time of crisis, and he has gotten better at knowing when I need a hug or a high five, or if I need some space. It is great to have that kind of transition, and it has been great for our friendship. We have been best friends for ages, and it looks like it's not going to change anytime soon.)

Be careful with this though. There can be people that claim to be PT, but use it as an excuse to be careless in their actions. A true PT will NOT want to just touch everyone, but only people that mean something to them. (Unless there are deeper emotional problems going on.) Don't lose control. PT is a totally sweet, innocent, and beautiful love language that has been corrupted by teenage hormones and adult stupidity, to put it bluntly. I hope and pray that everyone will get the love they need in a way that they understand. This is my primary way. (My secondary language is quality time, but we'll talk about that later.) I can relate with the babies in the Russian orphanages who died because they never were held. I hope everyone can be sensitive to each other and that we will express our feelings and openly communicate with our loved ones.

Here is the Love Language Test. I encourage you to take it and to think about what love language you and your loved ones are. It helps relationships so much.

Peace from the East,

1 comment:

  1. You have no idea how much I love this. Physical touch is such a beautiful love language.