What Is the Love Language of Physical Touch?

Anytime I mention that my love language is physical touch — it’s assumed that I feel loved through sex. But the love language of physical touch is more than that.

While sex is an important aspect of marriage, physical touch communicates meaningful expressions of love.

In fact, two of my three kids have the same love language I do. Our primary love language is physical touch and quality time together.

What Are Love Languages?

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman became a New York Times #1 bestseller in the early 1990s and has remained popular for its timeless wisdom, practical help, and how it helps us become better at loving those in our family.

Written for married couples, the book and its tips have expanded to help parents understand their children as well.

This book explores the ways people give and receive love. He explains how many of the misunderstandings and problems that arise in marriage is because we don’t know how to communicate love to our spouse.

While words of affirmation may make one spouse feel good, quality time might be the other’s love language. Through his book, 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.

These five categories are how we all express our love for another and how we need to receive love. In the book, Chapman suggests that everyone receives love in at least one of five ways:

1. Quality time: Giving your partner your undivided attention like going on a date or going for walks. It’s all about giving the other person your attention.

2. Physical touch: People who have physical touch as their primary love language have a deep-felt need for appropriate touch.

3. Words of affirmation: This love language means these people need to hear how much they are loved, cherished, and appreciated.

4. Acts of service: For these people, the phrase, “Actions speak louder than words,” equals love.

5. Gifts: For some people, what makes them feel loved and cherished is to receive a gift.

The Gift of Physical Touch

Physical touch is more than sex. People who have this as their primary love language express and receive love through hugging, cuddling, holding hands, a back rub, or any other kind of touch that is appropriate in the moment.

Physical touch is the most direct way to communicate love. It is essential for the health and well-being of every human being.

Experts say the first hour of a child’s life is crucial to have skin-to-skin contact. This helps regulate their heart rate, temperature, and breathing. At the same time, a mother’s hormones are regulated as well. As the infant grows, physical touch boosts early child development.

Other studies have proven how detrimental physical touch is through intuitional isolation that is prevalent in orphanages around the world. These children often grow up in environments where touch and emotional engagement are lacking.

Many children who have not had ample physical and emotional attention are at higher risk for behavioral, emotional, and social problems. It’s clear, God created physical touch to be a powerful force of love.

What Is the Love Language of Physical Touch?

Jesus used physical touch often and made it a point even though He could heal people with just His Words. When the children came to Jesus, we see that “he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying hands on them” (Mark 10:15-16).

In Matthew 18:14-15, we read, “He touched her hand and the fever left her.”

When Jesus saw Simon’s mother-in-law lying ill, he “took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her” (Mark 1:31).

Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him (John 13:5).

In Matthew 17:7, we read, “Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.”

These are just a few passages of Jesus’ time on earth when He chose to use His hands to show His love for the world.

God created us to enjoy skin-to-skin contact because it triggers the release of certain hormones associated with pleasure and bonding as a couple.

Oxytocin is the bonding hormone, and it is released along with the rest of the feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine.

To some degree, we all need physical touch in our marriages but for those whose love language is physical touch — it’s critical.

But this type of love comes down to timing because it is primarily made up of small gestures like having your spouse put his arm around in public. It could be a hug before leaving for work, a kiss when you get home.

How to Love Someone Whose Love Language Is Physical Touch

When you hug, use both arms and your whole body, and linger for a moment in the embrace. A rule of thumb is 30 seconds, 60 is heavenly!

Give them kisses often. Whenever your spouse is feeling blue, holding them closely can make tears disappear. Cuddle in bed together. Snuggle on the couch or hold their hand. Take them dancing for date night.

Make a point of maintaining physical contact when you’re both out for events. Kiss them hello and goodbye. Kiss them in places besides the lips, like her forehead, collarbone, the back of her neck or hand. Rub her shoulders when she is stressed out.

When you hug, use both arms and your whole body, and linger for an extra moment in the embrace. Spontaneously give them a little back rub or back scratch. Always hold hands when you’re out and about. Enjoy the public displays of affection, holding hands, cuddling, and kissing!

If you’re in a marriage or dating someone who has physical touch as their love language, be sure to ask what touch makes them feel most loved and what annoys them.

These physical displays of affection are a gift and matter more than words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, and gifts.

Remember Jesus modeled physical touch and used His hands to heal. In the same way, this is an immense gift to give to your spouse.

For further reading:

What Should Christians Know about the Quality Time Love Language?

How to Maintain Intimacy in Your Marriage

How Can Sex be a Sin and a Gift?

What Is the Biblical Definition of Marriage?

What Does Love in Action Look Like?

What Is Authentic Love?

Why Do We Pray for Love?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/bedya


Heather Riggleman is an author, national speaker, former award-winning journalist and podcast co-host of the Moms Together Podcast. She calls Nebraska home with her three kids and a husband of 21 years. She believes Jazzercise, Jesus, and tacos can fix anything and not necessarily in that order! She is author of I Call Him By Name Bible Study, the Bold Truths Prayer Journal,  Mama Needs a Time Out, and Let’s Talk About Prayer and a contributor to several books.  Her work has been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, MOPS, Today’s Christian Woman, and Focus On the Family. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com or on Facebook.  

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