How To Find Balance In A Relationship When Your Partner Is Big On Physical Touch And You're Just Not

Of all our senses, touch might be the most important when it comes to human connection. We, as people, physiologically need touch, as it has been shown to have a plethora of benefits from human development to pain relief. But despite its benefits, some people are just not into touching like that — perhaps one of those people is you. Maybe you are not into giving (or receiving) hugs, or hate holding hands with your partner in public. Maybe you cannot stand it when they try to play with your hair. First, know that it is completely okay to have preferences surrounding touch — maybe your palms tend to get clammy when you hold hands, or someone playing with your hair feels like a sensory nightmare. But given the fact that touch is such an important marker of affection between humans, your aversion to touch could be worth exploring. Looking toward your attachment style could give you some initial clues. According to Psychology Today, when infants learn to self-soothe, they tend to develop avoidant attachment styles as adults, who highly value their ability to do things without help. These adults are likely to feel touch-averse, in contrast to those who have developed an anxious attachment style where physical touch might be one of their primary love languages, as it can help them relax. When you and your partner have different attachment styles, it can definitely show up in various ways such as touch frequency. 

First, talk it out

First, understand the differences between you and your partner, and consider extending empathy to them. Touching is one of many ways that people can feel connected to each other, both physically and emotionally. Know that your partner is simply trying to foster your connection in the way they know how. But also remember that your partner does not want to push any boundaries that you are not cool with. For this reason, it is important to talk to your partner about what those boundaries are to establish mutual understanding, rather than simply pushing them away or otherwise dismissing their advances without reason. Such a conversation might be uncomfortable, and it might entail some challenging emotional work on your end. Perhaps, for example, your aversion to touch is because of past trauma. While you do not need to tell your partner the details of said trauma if you don't want to, do assure your partner that your aversion to touch is not because of something they've done. Perhaps, your aversion to touch is due to a certain cultural norm. Explain to your partner how this cultural norm shapes your understanding of touch day-to-day.

Next, research your attachment styles together, and consider how to improve your relationship based on your love language. When you reflect on your behavior, talking about it could become easier, and might even allow you to attain new insights about yourself, including the ways in which you connect with others.

Consider a compromise

Touching is a vital aspect of most romantic relationships, and for that reason, you may want to consider the compromises that you're comfortable with. Dr. Darren Haber tells Good Therapy that an imbalance in preferences when it comes to touch will ultimately impact any relationship. Maybe certain places are simply off-limits when it comes to touch, but others you might feel you could (and want to) work through. Perhaps you and your partner can work on touch together by having set parameters for experimentation, for example, holding hands on the walk to your destination, but not holding hands on the way home. This way both you and your partner will have achieved a compromise, where both of your needs can be met. 

But with that being said, touch is just one of many ways to connect with your partner. If you and your partner have different love languages, this absolutely does not need to mean your relationship is over. Instead, it gives you the opportunity to grow in new ways and to hone your communication skills even more.