Everyone has a different way of showing affection. A quick “I love you” text or “let me know when you’re home” after a late night out are simple ways people can express how deeply they care for and appreciate you.
You just may not realize it.
According to Gary Chapman, there are five love languages: acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, and physical touch. His book states that these are the five ways individuals like to express and receive love.
When it comes to physical contact, it helps you feel connected with your loved ones. Small gestures such as hugging, holding hands, or even a pat on the shoulder establish a bond with your loved ones and encourages love and affection.
Furthermore, a study showed that “romantic partners had lower cortisol levels on days with higher physical intimacy”. This means that having physical affection lowers stress levels when you have more physical contact with your partner.
It then comes as no surprise that physical affection is essential in human interaction. It is a physical expression of intimacy and love.
Physical affection, however, is not particularly common in Latino families. Latinos, especially Latino men, tend not always to express their emotions.
In Latino culture, Latino dads are known for being distant. Their focus is to support their families by working long hours. As a result, they do not show physical affection because, to them, there is no bigger display of love than to provide you with financial security.
This makes them seem cold and detached, but we fail to realize that this behavior has been passed down for generations. Newer generations need to break this taboo and educate their Latino families on the importance of physical affection.
Teach your families that it is human nature to express emotion. And not only anger as we are so used to seeing. It is okay to express happiness, sadness, fear, and love. Physical affection is not a sign of vulnerability or weakness.
Be the one to take the first step. Open up to your family and hug them the next time they seem sad. Cuddle up next to your partner when they have a stressful day at work. Pave the way for your family to start feeling comfortable showing physical affection.
Instead of focusing on how you did not feel loved by your family due to the lack of intimacy, be the person that breaks the cycle of this generational trauma.