‘Physical Touch’ is one of the five love languages as described by Dr Gary Chapman in his book 'The Five Love Languages' (For an overview of this read Speaking the Languages of Love)
We all need to be touched and held. Studies have shown that babies who are held, hugged and kissed develop a healthier emotional life than those who are left for long periods of time without physical contact.The caring profession also know the value of touch in making patients feel less anxious and more secure. Although we all appreciate touch, the 'language' of physical touch will talk much louder to some than to others.
If you have children you will probably be able to guess which ones really like physical touch. They are likely to be the ones who climb up on your knee or clamber all over you whenever you are sitting down and as they get older they will find other ways of touching you. Sometimes with boys they will be the ones who enjoy wrestling with their dads or almost ‘punching’ their mums as they walk past. These can all be signs of the desire for physical touch. Boys and girls who have experienced healthy physical affection growing up are far more likely not to want to get involved with anything unhealthy because they have their need for physical touch already met. If you know your child responds to physical touch, then you need to consider yourself lucky. I know with one of my children all it takes is a few minutes of hugging or sitting closely with her to fill up her ‘love tank’. However, my other child values quality time and that is not something you can ‘rush’ with her!
As adults physical touch can be more of a minefield. Almost any physical touch in the workplace can be very easily misconstrued and anything other than a handshake, a high five or a gentle back slap is not advised. Even with friends, not everyone is a ‘touchy feely’ type. What is easy about physical touch though, is you will learn really fast if it’s not appreciated! We’ve all tried to hug someone only to have them pull back or been through the head-clashing, manhandling awkwardness of trying to hug or give someone a kiss on the cheek when it’s really not worked! It’s enough to put anyone off, but for those who really feel affirmed by some physical touch it is worth making an effort. Stick to safe touches like a hand on an arm or shoulder and go for the more intimate hugs with those closest to you whom you know will enjoy it.
Of all the ‘love languages’ this one can be the hardest to get right at times, but once again with a little thought, attention and practice your loved ones will appreciate your effort.