Every Single Thing You Should Know About the Physical Touch Love Language

Whether you learned about love languages from a personality test, love quiz, or during an online spiral, it’s likely you know a thing or two about them. Because when it comes to building lasting relationships—both romantic and platonic—these languages are pretty damn essential.

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For those who don’t know though, brief history lesson: The whole love languages concept originated from the book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate written by Gary Chapman, PhD. And according to intimacy experts, it’s pretty much your relationship-building secret weapon.

Very simply, love languages explain how different people give, receive, and feel love, explains erotic educator and founder of Organic Loven Taylor Sparks. This is why learning other peoples’ love languages are so important. “They’re an outline of ways to show your partner love and affection in a way they can receive it,” adds licensed clinical social worker and author of Writing with Love, Ashley Starwood.

According to Dr. Chapman, people tend to gravitate toward one of five love languages when showing affection: physical touch, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, or gifts. These love languages reveal not only how you show your love, but likely how you want to receive love as well.

Now the first step in this whole process, of course, is to actually learn what your and your partner’s love languages are. (Here’s a free love language test you can take literally right now.) And once you do that, the second step is learning more about your specific love languages.

If you discovered physical touch ranked high for you or for a loved one, you’ve come to the right place. From what the physical touch love language means to expert advice, dating tips, and even gift suggestions, here’s everything you need to know about this very hands-on language.

P.S. If you have a different love language, no worries, here’s an explainer on words of affirmation, quality time, and acts of service.

What does it mean if your love language is physical touch?

This love language is alllll about physical connection and intimacy, explains OkCupid’s dating coach and the host of the Dates & Mates podcast, Damona Hoffman. “Physical touch folks give and receive love by being touched or held,” she explains.

And while your mind might just immediately jump to sex, that’s likely not the only type of physical contact people need. “Any form of intimate touch—hugs, kisses, smacks on the butt, hair combing, foot rubs, and hand-holding—is a form of physical touch,” explains Starwood.

Granted, while sexual expression is likely vital to those with this love language, other types of touch with friends and family are important as well. Things like cuddling with parents, hugging friends, or even getting massages tend to go a long way for physical touch people.

And before you think this might sound kinda clingy or shallow, all the experts agree: There’s nothing wrong with the physical touch love language. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with any of them because, as Hoffman explains, love languages are simply “tools to better understand yourself” and the people around you.

We’ll give you some more specific examples and advice below, but in short, “people whose love language is physical touch prefers their expression of love to be physical (as opposed to gifts, quality time, etc.),” says Starwood.

What are some signs your love language is physical touch?

When it comes to identifying the physical touch love language, this one is fairly easy to recognize. “If you’re a PDA person, you’re probably a physical touch person,” explains Hoffman. While lots of people like some touch here and there, these people typically crave it the most, and they tend to feel the most seen when their partner is being physically attentive.

“As mentioned earlier, we tend to love in the manner that we wish to be loved,” explains Sparks. “So if someone is constantly and consistently holding your hand, touching some parts of your body (not always in a sexual manner), and wanting to be physically connected by your shoulders, knees, feet,” that’s a pretty good indication they “speak” physical touch.

What are some examples of physical touch?

The good thing about the physical touch love language is you not only have a lot of options, but you can pretty much express it at any time. That said, touch preferences can vary wildly from person to person, so chatting about wants and needs is vital, as is getting consent.

Additionally, it’s important to note you’re never under any obligation to touch someone or engage with them in a way that makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, no matter what their love language is.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to show love if someone has the physical touch love language and you feel comfortable doing so. Here are some expert-approved physical touch ideas to consider, ranging from more platonic to more sexual depending on your relationship status:

  • Hugging as a greeting/goodbye
  • Cheek kissing as a greeting/goodbye
  • Being hands-on when talking, such as touching their shoulder or arm in comfort or while teasing
  • Sitting close to someone
  • “Anytime” hugs
  • Resting your head on their shoulder
  • Massaging their shoulders or hands
  • Reading their palm
  • Platonic cuddles
  • Not-so-platonic cuddles
  • Playing with their hair
  • Caresses
  • Hand holding
  • Displays of affection in public such as kissing, hugging, or linking arms
  • Love taps
  • Grooming such as brushing their hair or applying lotion on their back
  • Kisses
  • Making out
  • Sensual massages
  • Sensory foreplay
  • Initiating sex
  • Trying new sex positions
  • Letting your partner dominate you

    What happens if physical touch is your love language but you’re in a long-distance relationship?

    One hurdle every LDR has is figuring out how to speak each other’s love languages from a distance. And while physical touch relies heavily on in-person contact, there are still a variety of ways to lean into the language from afar.

    First, you’ll want to prioritize touch and foreplay when you’re together—obviously. But when you’re not, think of ways to still get that sentiment across. Give them a coupon book good for ~favors~ to use when you’re together to build anticipation, or perhaps they could book a massage for you, specifying the areas they want the masseuse to work on.

    Finally, invest in a long-distance sex toy. Items like panty vibrators and app-controlled toys allow your partner to pleasure you from afar, thus creating a physical level of intimacy that’s otherwise hard to achieve from a distance. Technology, y’all!

    What are some relationship tips if you or your partner’s love language is physical touch?

    To succeed in any relationship, Sparks says it all comes down to loving people in the way they want to be loved. While that sounds easy enough, actually practicing it might be a bit more complicated.

    Before you think having a whole bunch of sex is the secret to perfecting this love language, that’s *probably* not the case. Here’s what to keep in mind if “physical touch” is a key language in your relationship:

    If your partner’s love language is physical touch:

    Hoffman suggests making a point of having contact every day, even if it’s just a quick morning cuddle or kiss.

    If you’re after more specifics, Sparks says a good way to gauge what your partner wants is to observe how they touch you. For example, if they hold your hand or hug you often, try returning the favor.

    And regardless of whether or not they’re a fan of the gesture, it’s still important to have a conversation surrounding what physical touch means to your partner. They might like feeling more dominant or submissive when receiving touch, or they might have areas/actions they do/don’t crave contact with.

    Lastly, respecting boundaries—especially when we’re talking about any type of physical intimacy—is of the utmost importance. It’s absolutely okay to not want to touch or be touched as much as your partner, which is where communication comes in. Talk about when you are/aren’t receptive to physical intimacy and what types are appropriate. Together, try coming up with a few ideas that work for both of you.

    If physical touch is your love language:

    It’s a good idea to initiate a conversation with your partner. Physical space is sacred, so chatting about how important that intimacy is to you, as well as figuring out what your partner is/isn’t comfortable with, is essential, says Sparks.

    While you might want to constantly hold their hand or have sex, they might not want to touch or be touched as often. This doesn’t mean they don’t love you or aren’t attracted to you, it’s just a matter of preference.

    Make sure to talk about what type of touch is most important to you and come up with a few ideas you both like. Set aside time to be physically intimate, whether that’s a cuddling movie night or steamy sex session. And if your partner isn’t in the mood for physical intimacy, keep in mind that’s likely not an indication of how they feel about you. As with most things relationship-wise, it’s all about communication, respect, and consenting compromise.

    What should you get someone whose love language is physical touch?

    As you might have guessed, physical touch people are typically more about in-person contact over tangible presents, but all hope isn’t lost if you’re shopping for birthdays or holidays.

    “Body massage oils, sex toys, edible underwear, a big blanket to cuddle under, or anything that promotes intimate touching” are all *chef’s kiss* gift options, says Starwood.

    You could also book a romantic experience like a couple’s massage, intimacy workshop, or even a cute carriage ride in the city. And for LDRs, Hoffman says a weighted blanket is a perfect option so they can “feel held even if you’re not nearby.”

    What if you don’t have the same love language as your partner?

    The good news here is you don’t have to have the same love language as someone to work out as a couple. In fact, Hoffman says many people don’t have the same primary love language as their partner, which is why it’s so important to learn how to “speak” each other’s language. A good place to start is with some good old fashion positive reinforcement.

    “When your partner takes an action that speaks to your love language, tell them how much you love it when they do that,” says Hoffman. “It’s often a struggle in the beginning to understand one another’s programming, but once you settle into a relationship and know your partner better, it’s easier to communicate in their love language.”

    What it all comes down to is that love is a decision, explains Sparks. “If you’ve chosen to love someone, then love them in the manner that makes them feel loved.” It might take some work but before long, you’ll be a physical touch and PDA pro. *smooches!*

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