The 5 Love Languages – Physical Touch
That wasn’t a very appropriate joke for the conclusion of our discussion on the 5 love languages, was it? Or, maybe for some, it was….
We’ve discussed four of the 5 languages…..Affirmative Words, Quality Time/Conversations, Receiving Gifts, and last week, Acts of Service.
I’m guessing many of you have figured out what your language is as well as your secondary language. Yes, most of us have a secondary language, like speaking English and Spanish.
And if you haven’t figured it out after today, there is a quiz, of course, if you just go to the 5 Love Languages webpage.
So, let’s get into today’s Lesson, the Love Language of Physical Touch. You may have noticed. I am a touchy person, I tend to make contact when speaking with someone and do not hesitate to lay a hand on someone’s shoulder as I pass by. I haven’t had my hand slapped yet but please let me know if this is offensive to you.
Studies have shown that babies that are held, cuddled and kissed develop a healthier emotional life than those without physical touch. In fact, the babies and children can develop ‘attachment disorder’ if they do not receive attention from a loving person. Maybe one reason a parent is encouraged to take a year off to bond with the baby is an effort to prevent that condition.
All societies have some form of physical touching as a means of social greeting…European bear hug & the two-cheek kiss by the French, for example.
Touching among friends is determined by what is acceptable. My friends hug when we see each other, but some people shake hands, or even kiss. When we do Hugs & Handshakes here at Unity, there is a choice on purpose. There are people who do not care for hugging…so we remind everyone that handshakes are just as acceptable.
Refusing to shake hands, tho, can communicate that something is not ‘right’ in that relationship, however causal it is.
Physical touch, done in a loving, tender way, is a way of communicating emotional love. It can make or break a relationship; it can communicate love or hate.
“Almost instinctively, in a time of crisis, we hug one another…physical touch is so powerful a communicator of love.”
Dr. Chapman states, “The most important thing we can do for our loved ones in a time of crisis is to love them….words may mean little, physical touch will communicate that you care.”
This is another easy love language to learn. It can be as simple as touching as you pass each other, holding hands while taking a walk, back rubs (or my fav, rubbing my feet), and of course, with the appropriate person, sexual intercourse.
But this is not all about sex!
Holding hands, kissing, embracing, a touch on an arm as you pass by each other are all ways of expressing emotional love to your spouse or partner or friend.
Unlike smell or sight, touch is not limited to one area. The body has tactile receptors throughout, some more sensitive than others
There are nonsexual touches that mean as much if not more than sexual touches.
Casual touches as you are traveling in the car, laying together on the couch while watching a movie, a light touch in passing….all messages of love and caring.
Other ways to ‘touch’, if your friend or partner is tactile oriented…purchase gifts that relate to that…fluffy slippers, plush pillows, soft sweaters….
Plant a tactile garden that has a variety of different leaves and flowers that are enjoyable to the touch.
They will think of you every time they run their fingers over the different leaves and flowers….
Of course, there are appropriate & inappropriate ways to touch others. The ‘Me too’ movement has finally brought sexual harassment and physical abuse into public knowledge, if not understanding.
And knowledge of our love Language may help us understand why a woman could ‘stand by her man’ when finding out he was cheating. Maybe physical touch is not her language….
It’s a thought.
If one finds a certain touch uncomfortable or irritating, they should speak up. And if you are the one doing it, do not insist on continuing to do it—that is insensitive to their needs & doesn’t communicate love. That is more like bullying.
Fr. Richard Rohr tells us, “Modern culture’s preoccupation with the physical body and the exploitation of the body as soulless matter reflects the deep human disconnect from self, neighbor, earth, and God. Sex has become more like a video game with the goal of winning rather than part of the deep religious core of cosmic evolution.”
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin tells us “The physical structure of the universe is love.”
Awareness of our desires and attention to our deepest longings must orient us toward a unified heart and consciousness. Love is more than a survival mechanism; it is the fire breathed into the fabric of the cosmos that enkindles life, rendering life more than biological function. Love turns passion into transformative power.
According to de Chardin, Two things happen in any loving relationship. First, a new being—the relationship—is born with its own unique potentials and purpose. Second, the relationship—this new being—enhances and develops the individuals within it, each with their own unique potentials and purpose. Both effects, when recognized and developed, foster evolution. . . .
Louis Savary and Patricia Berne remind us, “Love is the most powerful force or energy in the universe. That power is multiplied in relationships. Love’s potency is released most powerfully among people who have formed a relationship (a union). People who truly unite for a purpose beyond themselves become “differentiated” as they unite and work together in a shared consciousness to achieve their larger purpose.”
That holds true for any relationship…even the ones we form here at Unity.
Again, Fr. Richard Rohr states, “Spirituality and sexuality are two sides of one coin. They are both a gift. One without the other might be mistrusted. But together they give us the capacity, not just to make love to another person, but to make love to God, no matter which relationship comes first. Sexuality and spirituality emerge from the same foundation and have the same goal: universal love.”
Sex is not a mere continuation of the species; it is the energy of love by which this universe is in the process of personalization, becoming more spiritualized, energized, and conscious.
So, we are creatures of choice…poor or good. Choice is our God given gift…a very precious gift. And, meeting the needs of another is a choice we make daily.
So, we choose to live from love…. or not.
We choose to use our knowledge of the love languages in a positive way or not.
Chapman reminds us, “Negative use of love languages…ignoring a love language is like ignoring the needs of a garden…it dies if we do not tend to… watering, weeding & fertilizing.”
Each of the love languages are vulnerable to insincere manipulation. Withholding any language from a loved one when you know that is their ‘language’ can be hurtful. ….like doing something just for the praise you would receive.
Or using sarcastic words towards someone who’s love language is Affirmative Words, or even the ‘silent treatment’ is a deeper wound, …it can be devastating.
Whether it’s not doing a service or not being present, whatever, the negative effect of withholding a love language can be what leads to a division in the relationship.
What is your primary love language? What makes you feel most loved? What do you desire above all else?
Physical touch is not necessarily your Love language just because you like sexual intercourse. Males sexual desire is physically based because of the build-up of sperm cells and fluid.
Women’s sexual desire is more emotionally based.
So, if men do not have a desire for physical touch outside of sexual intercourse, physical touch is probably not their Love Language.
Here’s a few questions that may help if you have not discovered your love language yet…
To discover your primary love language:
1. What does your spouse or partner do or fail to do that hurts you most deeply? The opposite of what hurts you most is probably your love language.
2. What have you most often requested of your spouse or partner? The thing you have most often requested is likely the thing that would make you feel most loved.
3. In what way do you regularly express love to your spouse or partner? Your method of expressing love may be an indication that that would also make you feel loved.
Remember: Love is something you do for someone else, not yourself
Cynthia Bourgeault gives us some relationship wisdom, using scripture to help us along: here’s the scripture….
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:7).
“Love bears all things.” This does not mean a dreary sort of putting-up-with or victimization. There are two meanings of the word bear, and they both apply. The first means “to hold up, to sustain”—like a bearing wall, which carries the weight of the house. . . . To bear [also] means “to give birth, to be fruitful.” So love is that which in any situation is the most life-giving and fruitful.
“Love believes all things.”. . . . [This] does not mean to be gullible, to refuse to face up to the truth. Rather, it means that in every possible circumstance of life, there is . . . a way of perceiving that leads to cynicism and divisiveness, a closing off of possibility; and there is a way that leads to higher faith and love, to a higher and more fruitful outcome. To “believe all things” means always to orient yourselves toward the highest possible outcome in any situation and strive for its actualization.
“Love hopes all things.”. . . In the practice of conscious love you begin to discover . . . a hope that is related not to outcome but to a wellspring . . . a source of strength that wells up from deep within you independent of all outcomes. . . . It is a hope that can never be taken away from you because it is love itself working in you, conferring the strength to stay present to that “highest possible outcome” that can be believed and aspired to.
Finally, “love endures all things.” . . . Everything that is tough and brittle shatters; everything that is cynical rots. The only way to endure is to forgive, over and over, to give back that openness and possibility for new beginning which is the very essence of love itself. And in such a way love comes full circle and can fully “sustain and make fruitful,” and the cycle begins again, at a deeper place. And conscious love deepens and becomes more and more rooted. . . .
In case you are curious, according to Dr. Chapman, the Love Languages for most men are – physical touch & words of affirmation; for women – quality time & receiving gifts