Monday, April 25, 2011

Our Love Story—Physical Touch

Some people get irritated when they are touched. Some people could take it or leave it. Some people enjoy being touched. People like me crave it. We need physical touch like a fish needs water.

Air, water, food, touch, ice cream. In that order. Is there anything else that really matters?

I kind of assumed everyone was like me. Doesn’t everyone need at least 18,023 touches a day just to survive? I gave hugs like they were going out of style, played with friends’ hair during chapel and flew across the room to tackle someone just because. Because everybody likes to be touched, right?

Shortly after Rob and I defined our relationship a little more clearly we found ourselves out and about enjoying another day together. When normal people go out on dates they park on the top of a hill overlooking the romantic city lights. The last time we were together we parked in a Wal-Mart parking lot and this time we were parked in front of a women’s prison. We were breakin’ the mold! Who wants to be normal anyway?

In his car while we were watching some ducks play Rob told me about a book he’d recently read called the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. He speculated, based on my interaction with my friends that my primary love language was physical touch. As soon as he explained the concept of the love languages it was apparent to me that he indeed hit the nail on the head with his assessment.

Here’s a synopsis of the Five Love Languages from After many years of counseling, Dr. Chapman noticed a pattern: everyone he had ever counseled had a “love language,” a primary way of expressing and interpreting love. He also discovered that, for whatever reason, people are usually drawn to those who speak a different love language than their own.

Of the countless ways we can show love to one another, five key categories, or five love languages, proved to be universal and comprehensive—everyone has a love language, and we all identify primarily with one of the five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.

Rob also correctly assumed that maybe that’s why I was having a difficult time seeing his interest in me. That’s why I was having a hard time reading him. That’s why I kept waffling back and forth about whether or not I thought he was interested in me despite the fact that we’d spent hours and hours together engrossed in deep, meaningful conversation.

Suddenly the world made a little more sense! And we clearly needed to figure out how to work this newfound knowledge into our budding relationship lest I spend the whole time utterly confused!

So we proceeded to have a long talk about purity—which we both strongly desired in our relationship—and how he could best meet my need for physical touch in an appropriate manner. He expressed to me that he really wanted to speak my love language so that he could convey his care for me in a way that I would understand.

After our conversation was finished he ever-so awkwardly reached his hand over and set it gently on my knee. On one hand it seemed a little silly and unnatural. On the other hand it was very nice. It was clear to me that he was making a gesture to express his care for me—and that was priceless.

And I would be lying if I didn’t say it was nice to finally be touched by this guy that I was falling head-over-heels over!

Over the next couple of days he awkwardly touched me a few more times. First it was a squeeze on the shoulder and then it was a random pat on the head. The pat on the head was especially significant because it was in the mail room while a group of our friends were all standing together talking.

Okay, so it wasn’t exactly the display of affection that would announce to our friends that we were spending ridiculous amounts of time together in secret off-campus locations. But still, it was significant to me… because it was like an inside joke that only we knew about. I knew it was his little way of showing me he cared, especially since it was plain to see that physical affection was not anywhere close to his primary love language.

I liked that he purposefully stepped outside of his comfort zone to meet me in mine. I liked that he valued purity in our relationship. I liked that he liked me. 

Click on the "Our Love Story" tag at the top of the page to see other love story posts, or to start from the beginning. 


Curious what your love language is, or the love language of your spouse or children? Here's a tool that will help you discover more about the Five Love Languages. I'm not sure things would have worked out as well as they have between Rob and I if we didn't have knowledge of these different ways of expressing and receiving love. It only takes a few minutes and I highly recommend it!

If you're up for sharing I'd love to hear what your primary love language is!


Diana said...

This has been one of my favorites in the series! I wish I could have seen him patting your head!
I'm a touch/gifts/words of encouragement combo.

becca banana said...

I first need to say, thank you for your wonderful Love Story! I have been so fascinated by the ways Rob chose to woo you, and by your unique perspective coming from a different upbringing. I can remember not even realizing you were dating Rob and then suddenly you were engaged. :) One of your comments right after marriage was how wonderful it was to not have to "go back home" at night but get to stay with each other.

My main love language is Acts of Service, probably closely followed by Words of Affirmation.

Robyn said...

Becca, I was wondering if you were reading along, I haven't seen a comment from you in a while!

You weren't the only one that didn't even know we were dating until we were engaged... most people were in the same boat as you!

It's funny the words that we say to other people that they still remember 10 years later. I'm glad you remember that... it's so true. I still love that I don't have to "go home".

Anonymous said...

HAHA! Ok, I took the quiz. (I giggle because I never do this type of "who are you" thing but I thought what the heck!)

So as I suspected I have a tie (talk about never being normal - this is why I never take personal quizzes they always make me feel like an alien from another planet)

In first and first place I am "Quality Time" and "Physical touch" which is pretty accurate I'd say. The husband and I do EVERYTHING together. Everything. Grocery shopping, yard work, cleaning the house (no, that's a lie, he cleans it all by himself), gardening, we even jog, that makes us sound kinda of friendless...hmmm...ok and the physical touch. Yep, I'm a hugger. 'Hello, My name is Kimberly and I want to hug you!'

My lowest score was "Receiving gifts" which made my husband almost shoot soda out of his nose. I got a score of one and his response was "how in the world did you even get a ONE?!" I hate getting gifts HATE it. Birthdays, Christmas, Anniversary, Valentines Day...UGH the WORST. I am NOT a gift person. I may actually be the worst gift receiver of all time...see, alien from another planet.

Thank you so much for sharing this. Too much fun! Now, I wonder if I can get the husband to take it...I'll keep you posted.

Robyn said...

Just start asking him the questions and make him answer them! You should definitely keep us posted.

You are not an alien, I score a 1 on gifts too. It sounds like our love languages are really similar. I can't say I HATE gifts... but I'm not a huge fan. They make me feel awkward.

Anonymous said...

You're right "hate" is a bit of a strong word. I mean if my husband was to walk in the door hold the new pair of running shoes I've been drooling over for the last few weeks "hate" is not the feeling I would have!

But they make me feel really uncomfortable too. I never know the proper reaction. Too excited, not excited enough...I never know. I'm terrible at it. However, I love to GIVE gifts. If gift giver was an option it'd be up at the top!

UPDATE: I started asking the husband questions and he ran away! HA! Now I'm on a mission, a mission...impossible. dun na na dun na na dun na na..dun na dun dun dun (yeah, no idea it just popped into my head)

Beckys blog said...

Apparently, I am words of affirmation with quality time as a close second.

Marshall's Corner said...

I'm acts of service and words of affirmation by a LONG shot.

Cheryl said...

My love language is physical touch, for sure! My husband told me that I AM touchy in every sense of the word so I whacked him. (That's touch in and of itself, isn't it?) His love language is a pretty close tie between physical touch, affirmation, and acts of service. That was a fun quiz, Robyn (although sometimes hard to decide between which thing I liked more). Thanks for posting. :)

Robyn said...

Oh Cheryl, that's funny!

T & K said...

Travis and I talked about that book too in the early days of dating...we focused especially on the 'love tank' and still ask each other how our 'love tank' is doing (which helps when you're overwhelmed with children because it shows he cares even if nobody can do anything to change it at that particular moment!)

Oh, and I'm with you on giving gifts, but not really wanting to receive them. : )