In British culture we don’t really go in for ‘touchy-feely’, which I think is a shame because I’m quite a tactile person. It’s something (else) I miss about Leamington: the standard greeting was a kiss on the cheek with the ladies (or two, if you remembered they were from mainland Europe) and a proper manly hug with your guy friends. (I’m sure this isn’t limited to Leamington and maybe time will bring it out in Nottingham.)
The 5 Love Languages is quite a popular book/concept. And it’s one I like: the idea that we each show and feel love better in particular ways. You can read more about it here, but the list of so-called ‘languages’ is:
- Words of affirmation
- Quality time
- Receiving gifts
- Acts of service
- Physical touch
For me, physical touch, quality time and words of affirmation are the most important. I’m not so bothered about gifts (though they’re always nice...) or acts of service (the washing up can wait until tomorrow, let’s cuddle instead!). In fact, physical touch is probably my top one. After all, it usually covers ‘quality time’ as well – you can’t hug someone without being with them!
It’s not just in relationships though. Research suggests that physical contact is very important generally in human beings: without it, we can become stunted socially, emotionally and mentally. I certainly find spending too much time on my own erodes my self-esteem, as though my brain starts to wonder what’s wrong with me that is making people not want to be close.
But maybe that’s not such a big deal for people with, say, receiving gifts in their top three instead.
I’d recommend thinking about what your particular ‘languages’ are. I found it helpful in understanding ‘me’, as well as being a practical tool for relating to others. (Plus, it’s kinda fun if you like those quiz-questionnaire type things!)
And maybe overcome your ‘Britishness’ and give your friends a huge hug next time you see them. You might both feel better for it.