Have you noticed how many people you touch in a day? I’m talking about handshakes, hugs, kisses, pats on the shoulder, anything. Often, I’ll go through a day without touching anyone at all — I’ll go through multiple days without touching anyone. But only when it’s happened for a long time do I start to wonder how that corresponds to my emotions.
I’ve only noticed this in situations when I’m lonely, but lonely can be difficult to describe. I have friends right now, but no best friends close by. And I only hug my best friends. I’m not really a touchy person — I either have to be attracted to you or best friends with you in order for me to let you touch me. (Or you have to be one of my close family members.) So even when I have friends, when I’m having fun hanging out with people, I’ll go days on end without touching anyone.
And the human sense of touch is important. Too often I think it’s sexualized. I consider it intimate, yes, but not sexual unless you make it such. But I also think it’s important emotionally.
Think of a hug. It could be someone giving comfort and someone receiving comfort. It could be two people (or more) happy to see each other. It could be a method of saying goodbye. Or it could just be something that feels good. But unless it’s a hug I don’t want, it always raises my spirits, makes me feel just a little bit better from what I was feeling before. So how does not getting hugs impact my emotions?
I was really upset a couple weeks ago. Crying huddled in my quilt, not wanting to do anything, feeling like total crap upset. And at one of the points when I wasn’t crying, I went to the kitchen to get food and met up with my friend Tan. (I live in a communal house, and the way it’s set up, the kitchen is THE meeting place.) And she asked how I was doing and I started crying again and she was like, “would you like a hug?”
Normally, I wouldn’t hug Tan because we’re not good enough friends for me to want to do something that feels so intimate. But at that point, with family and best friends far away and across an ocean, yes, I wanted a hug. So she gave me a hug and it was a little bit awkward but it also made me feel just a little bit better. I wanted to be like, no, no, I want lots of hugs! But again, we’re not good enough friends for that to be anything but awkward. But I started thinking about hugs and touch and how people give and receive energy from each other.
I’m not sure what my conclusion is, except that I think as human beings we need physical connections. And each person is different, but when we’re not getting our quota of touch then it makes us feel just a little bit worse. Maybe not enough to make a difference in our lives, but perhaps enough to influence it just a little bit.
What do you think?