Individual and relational differences in desire for touch in romantic relationships

Brittany K. Jakubiak, Julian D. Fuentes, Brooke C. Feeney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Although touch is common in romantic relationships and is generally beneficial, people differ in the extent to which they desire to give and receive touch. The current research identified individual and relationship characteristics that predict overall desire for touch and unique desire for overtly affectionate versus indirectly affectionate forms of touch. In both a sample of dating, engaged, and married individuals (Study 1) and a dyadic sample of married couples (Study 2), the strongest predictors of overall desire for touch were sex (being female) and high relationship quality (actor and partner). Attachment avoidance also predicted lower desire for touch overall (Study 1), and actor and partner attachment avoidance predicted lower desire for indirectly affectionate touch, in particular (Study 2). Finally, greater psychological distress predicted greater desire for indirectly affectionate touch in both studies. This novel descriptive information about desire for touch provides a foundation for future intervention work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2029-2052
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Affection
  • attachment
  • individual differences
  • romantic relationships
  • touch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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