Love is one of the most powerful—and confusing—emotions we can feel. It overlaps the boundaries of friendship and family relationships, touches our most enjoyable activities, and reaches around the globe.
It’s also difficult to put into words. Saying ‘I love you’ can mean something deep and profound to some people, but to others, it sounds as trite as ‘I love french fries.’
So how do you bridge the gap between what you feel and the message you want to give?
Do the Five Love Languages Work for You?
In 1992, author Gary Chapman released a book entitled The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. This book has become a classic for helping partners discover the best ways to express their love for each other.
In this book, Chapman outlines five ways that people express love. Verbal communication, or words of affirmation, is just one part of it. Partners can also express love through acts of service to each other, giving and receiving gifts, spending quality time with each other, and touch.
This book contains some questions to help determine the best love languages for you and your partner. As you practice and learn to ‘speak’ these love languages, you build the intimacy and trust in your relationship. To make it easier, there are tons of powerful apps like Love Nudge that can help you keep your most important relationship close and sweet.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Touch
In his paper Intimate Behavior: A Zoologist’s Classic Study of Human Intimacy, Desmond Morris introduced 12 steps to building intimacy in a relationship, culminating in sexual union. Nine of those 12 steps involve touching.
Of course, touching needs to be taken in context. It can be taken just as powerfully in a negative way, such as touch that hurts or harasses. Touches like a pat on the butt in a sports game will most likely be interpreted differently in a corporate setting.
Between partners, consider the difference between tapping each other on the back and caressing or stroking each other on the back. The way you touch makes a difference, especially when you’re celebrating a success or consoling each other over private grief.
If you’re looking to build intimacy through touch, there are a few different things you can try. Taking a massage class together or even using hot stone massages at home can help relieve stress and tension. You might also consider investing in Bond Touch bracelets that allow you to ‘feel’ a touch from your partner even when you’re on opposite sides of the Earth.
What You Give Is What You Get—and Vice Versa
One of the best indicators of intimacy in a relationship is how well you and your partner respond to each other. If your partner touches you and you don’t reciprocate, chances are you’re hurting your relationship. Over time, most successful relationships reach a one-to-one ratio where they’re comfortable with the amount of touches they give and receive.
The giving and receiving can go beyond touch, though. As you look back at the five love languages, consider how you can give and receive more quality time, acts of service, and even physical presence to show your affection for each other.