To Touch or Not to Touch…

Deaf people use the hearing parts of their brain to sense touch

Everyone is different and Dr. Chapman acknowledges that but he also knows that to be effective in showing Christian love to others, it is good to be able to learn other love languages than the ones you prefer.

I am a physical touch person.

When I took my “love language profile,” the results described my number one preference as “A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face – they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive. Physical touch fosters a sense of security and belonging in any relationship.”

I like to be touched.

I like to touch others.

What can you do if you encounter someone who does not want to be touched, yet you want to show them you care through this love language?

That happened to me the other day.  It does not happen much because I am careful to discern a person’s comfort level before I touch them.  Usually my touch is a handshake, a pat on the back and that is all.

The other day, I goofed.  There is a teenager at church that I really admire.  He is a leader.  He does things that other teens would not dare to do.  I like his confidence in front of crowds.  I admire the guy.

I saw him in a crowded hall on the ground floor of the education wing and I said hi and gave him a hug.

Wrong!

This young man did not like it; I could tell.

I did not apologize but I could tell his body language was the body language of the uncomfortable person.  He got stiff and the look on his face was a look of shock.

I had hugged a person who does not like physical touch.

Physical touch people need to be careful.  Too often they assume that all people are like them and they are not.

I proved that.

What do you need to do to use touch appropriately?

Dr. Chapman does not elaborate much but he tells touchers to ask this question: is the touch going to benefit the person touched?

If the touch is not for the benefit of the touchee, then it should not be done.

Touch can communicate manipulation and control.  Some touch is inappropriate in professional settings and can cross professional boundaries, especially in cross-gender situations.  Touch can communicate sexual interest which may be inappropriate.  Dr. Chapman says if touch is to “satisfy your own sensual desires, physical touch ceases to be an expression of love.”

He continues by saying that even though “exploitation is becoming common in contemporary culture, we must not allow our fear of being misinterpreted to keep us from speaking the authentic language of physical touch.”

I know what was in my heart when I hugged the young man at church.  I wanted to encourage him and I wanted to express my appreciation.

It did not work out.

Am I going to quit touching people?

No.

There are just too many people out there is this world that need it.

I know.  I am one of them.

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