Human Touch

We need to be touched. There is a special connection with just a simple touch.

I used to work as a massage therapist in California. One thing they taught us while studying to be certified was the need for touch. Some people get Swedish Massage for relaxation, others just to have another human touch them. Nothing sexual or inappropriate, just a caring touch. It’s powerful. It’s healing. It’s essential.

In fact, it’s proven long hugs and cuddles, as the English adorably call it, releases Oxytocin, a chemical released in the brain that works with the dopamine reward system, reducing stress and improving mood.

After spending two months in Europe away from my husband, I’m having serious touch withdrawals. We normally touch multiple times a day, as we’re very affectionate and loving together, and it’s something I think we take for granted, always being there for each other. When we’re apart, I certainly feel emptier, somehow. And these past seven weeks have been the loneliest of my life, save the last one thanks to the kindness of friends, both old and new.

Fortunately, for a few evenings at least, I got to spend with another affection man who was also just in need of company and cuddles. And it was healing for us both.

Today I fly back across the Atlantic. Finally. After a trip that was far longer and infinitely more painful that I could have ever imagined, I’m going home. But cuddles with my husband will have to wait a few more days as he’s still on the West Coast. But…Burning Man, here we come. With that open, expressive community there in Black Rock City, I hope to get my fill of loving touch and say goodbye to the emptiness and loneliness that has plagued my summer.

Perhaps this is why so many affairs have a tendency to happen on business trips. The loneliness is really just the craving for loving, human touch.

~ by omgrey on August 24, 2011.

5 Responses to “Human Touch”

  1. Going back to the hierarchy of needs that you talked about a few weeks ago, and speaking as someone who is often starved for the need of human touch, there is an odd transferal of needs that can happen.

    The most basic need is for touch. But for someone who doesn’t get their daily recommended dose of human contact, it can be difficult to define that need and isolate it as a goal in and of itself. The scenario goes like this: Person is starved for touch, person finds someone willing to satisfy that need, need for touch is satisfied, but then other higher needs which are unsatisfied kick in. Such as the need for sex. Person attempts to satisfy that need, which leads to confusion, hurt feelings, and possible alienation because the need wasn’t properly communicated. And for the person in question, the two needs may be so closely linked in their mind that they don’t realize they’re doing a bait-and-switch.

    This sort of thing can really make it difficult to form new relationships. I’m not sure how common it is, but I suspect that a lot of people who get a bad reputation for just looking for sex are actually dealing with this kind of need transfer.

    Doc

    • Agreed! I think you are absolutely right. Because NSA sex, especially for women, is much easier to find than genuine affection. And I think you’re also right about it triggering needs higher up on the pyramid. No doubt.

  2. The need for true affectionate is lacking in our American society. I believe that it dates back to Puritanical thought. I also have been performing massage for a number of years. When I began massage school, my sister thought that it was a disgusting concept, that no one needed massage. About 8 years after I began learning the art, my sister found herself in medical need of massage therapy. She called and asked me if I thought I could help her. I told her that I would, but after I helped her, she had to admit the validity of massage. 40 minutes later, and being able to stand upright for the first time in a week, she was convinced that massage is of use. She now regularly tells people how it has helped her. I would like to one day do a study on retraining victims of sexual violence to understand positive touch thru massage. I have yet to figure out how to do this. Thank you, Olivia. Your perspective is needed.

    • That’s a great story. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Human touch is incredibly important and powerful. It can be the most healing or most harmful thing in our lives. I think that would be a very beneficial study! Please do that! And let me know about your progress. I’d love to write about it.

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