How Affectionate Touch Influences Our Romantic Relationships

Men and women express their love for a partner in a relationship in a variety of verbal and nonverbal ways. Affectionate touch of various kinds is among the important nonverbal channels for lovers to express love in the intimate relationships. The previous article explained how affectionate touch in a relationship expresses our love for the loved one. Now we are talking about how interpersonal touch influences our romantic relationships.

What Affectionate Touch Tells Us About Love

Partners in romantic relationships often use touch to express their affection and intimacy. Touching various parts of the body, such as the abdomen and thighs, can evoke pleasurable feelings in both those who touch them and those who are touched.

A recent cross-cultural study found that touching behaviors like embraces, caresses, kisses, and hugs are universally present in various cultures around the world. Cultural differences, however, exist in how and when men and women affectionately touch each other. Even when lovers imagine a partner’s touch, they experience pleasurable and erogenous feelings.

Strangers can’t touch as much of your body as your romantic partner. Most people don’t mind when their partner touches their stomach and thighs, but they don’t like it when other people do. There are also more ways to show affection for a partner than in other social situations. A slow stroke is given to a romantic partner.

What Is Affection Exchange Theory?

Researchers employ the Affection Exchange Theory (AET) to understand the important effects and implications of affectionate touch in a relationship. The theory says that affectionate communication promotes the formation and maintenance of strong human pair bonds.

Expressions of affection are especially common in romantic couples. Such expressions affect the quality of a romantic relationship. Partners who are highly committed in a relationship often express various kinds of affection, including physical affection. Physical affection also positively affects relationships and partner satisfaction. However, partners with attachment insecurity less often use affectionate touch.

Most studies refer to affectionate communication as an array of behaviors and verbal displays of affection. For example, hugging was the only behavior explicitly related to touch among several affection communication domains which Horan and Booth-Butterfield’s study components examined.

How Touch Affects Our Relationships and Well-Being

In the study that specifically examined touch in romantic relationships, researchers found that the desire for touch is positively correlated with relationship quality. However, when partners experience attachment avoidance, they feel less desire for touch.

These promising results and the obvious value of touch in close interpersonal relationships encourage us to better understand the role of affectionate touch in romantic relationships.

Also, there appears to be a paucity of research on the psychological factors that influence the use of affectionate touch between partners. It is logical to assume, for instance, that loving partners would touch each other in their relationships. This would enhance communication and bring the benefits commonly associated with affectionate touch. In accordance with a study indicating that one’s own and one’s partner’s approach motives for touch predict greater daily relationship well-being, touch may also promote love between partners.

In an older study, Dainton, Stafford, and Canary found that physical affection (including touch behaviors) performed by a romantic partner and satisfaction with physical affection displays were positively associated with self-assessed love levels.

Thus, we see that our affectionate touch substantially influences our romantic relationships. How does our partner feel when we touch him or her? The previous article explained how affectionately touching the loved one lets him or her know about our love for them.

Surprisingly, however, little we know about the direct relationship between interpersonal touch and love, one of the most essential components of human romantic relationships, outside of this study.

In their recent study, Agnieszka Sorokowska and her colleagues investigated how affectionate touch influences romantic relationships across various cultures.