Don’t neglect non-sexual touch
Before I met my boyfriend, I was close to a year without dating. At that point, I was craving an intimate human touch; I was suffering from skin hunger. I missed to be hugged, to be held inside a safe and warm hug. I missed having my body touched by another human being — one that I cared about and him for me.
I’m not a physical person. At work and in a social environment, I’m good at keeping my physical distance. I’m happy living with the 2 metres distance rule the pandemic imposed.
However, with my lover, I am incredibly tactile — I need constant touch. It seems contradictory (perhaps it is), but it’s how I am. I need physical distancing from random people and closeness of those I love and care.
The last couple of days have been hard on me, which caused me a low and depressive mood. I’m usually an optimistic, a fighter, always carrying a smile and always ready to throw a (sarcastic) joke. But yesterday I was mentally exhausted; with so many shits going on my life, I hit rock bottom.
I have been dating Mr P. for a couple of months; we get along amazingly. But being a new relationship, our emotional connection is still superficial; it’s something we are building up, with no rush. We talk daily; we are a support to each other.
When we are together, we talk, we laugh, and we have amazing sex. We spend hours outdoors, walking in nature, getting to know each other better. When we are indoors, we can’t take our hands out of each other; we spend hours in a row having sex. We are very physical.
But yesterday, for the first time, I wanted nothing of that. I wasn’t craving sex, conversations or laughs. Yesterday, all I wanted was Mr P.’s skin on mine. I wished to rest my head in his warm chest, feeling his hands caressing my naked back; without words, without arousal — just touch.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t meet, but a sweet, supportive phonecall was good enough to make me feel like I was hugged.
Skin hunger (also known as affection deprivation) is a reality, especially now, with the pandemic, where we spent so long apart from our loved ones, some in complete isolation.
Human touch is a basic need; one that if nonexistent impacts severely our emotional health.
The importance of skin touch
The skin is our biggest organ. Underneath its surface (on the second layer), we have our sensory nerves; the ones responsible for physical sensations. This means that throughout our body, we feel. Through our skin, we absorb temperature, pain, discomfort and pleasure.
It’s through the skin that we input all the sensations — including the pleasure of touch.
This study evidenced that “affection deprivation shows negative linear associations with general health, happiness, social support, relationship satisfaction, and attachment security.” Positive skin to skin contact also has a physiological effect: it releases oxytocin, the commonly known “happiness hormone” (source).
A hug, a caressing, holding hands or being with full-body skin to skin with someone you care, has a strong positive effect in your body and emotions. We are wired to be touched. Not having regular human touch will cause long-lasting adverse effects.
Why Physical Touch Is So Important in Relationships
Nowadays, relationships are no longer exclusively maintained on a physical level; the virtual world has a substantial role in it. I met Mr P. online, we text daily, and we even have virtual sex. But that will never be enough.
The virtual reality has a significant impact on how couples connect and relate.
Depending on how you manage it, it can either be a positive or a negative impact. Often, face-to-face interactions are replaced by virtual ones, leading to a neglect of experiencing a physical connection — a human touch.
You might have experienced or know someone who had a virtual affair, and as fun as it is and somehow feels real, it’s not.
Without human touch, without the tactile sensations, relationships are incomplete.
Researcher Laura Guerrero states:
We feel more connected to someone if they touch us.
It’s not that we don’t feel connected using the virtual resources, but that it’s not a whole connection. When you touch your lover, you are knowledge them; you are showing your feelings for them. Your body — facial expressions and body language — is the pure evidence of how they make you feel and how you feel about them.
Besides, there is no virtual sexual experience, ever, that will replace a physical one. You need all your senses triggered. I love feeling the smell of Mr P.’s skin, his voice in my ear, his hands mapping my body.
Intimacy is only possible with physical touch. And no relationship will survive without intimacy.
Positive touch is a language: we communicate through it, we bond, we connect. We heal and we feel safe. For me, an honest and emotional hug is the best sensation I can experience. Life seems to pause when I’m inside of a devoted hug.
Touch is a vital part of the human experience and is a fundamental part of a couple’s life. It unites people; it provides safety and comforting sensations.
Create skin-touching moments on your relationship
Often — and particularly long-term couples — people lose the habit of touching each other; they do it almost only while having sex. However, as you know, relationships survive because of small actions, not because of big ones (which help, but not in the big scenario.)
Holding hands, or hugging — for a particular reason or spontaneously — are actions that have a very positive impact on both of you, which, consequently, impacts positively your relationship.
Be affective; show your feelings through touch. Research supports the findings that “affectionate relationships (…) may contribute to lower reactivity to stressful life events and (…) on better cardiovascular health.”
Touching prevents diseases, it bonds couples, and it improves your physiological health. A regular touch of the skin has so much power! And it takes nothing from you, not even time, the one we keep complaining it’s never enough.
In sex, take time for foreplay
Sex is about bodies being physically involved with each other. Even so, often the orgasm is the primary goal — you rush to achieve it; you skip the foreplay.
Foreplay isn’t merely a “warm-up” of the body for the sexual act; it’s also a way for you to connect with your lover. An orgasm might relieve your stress; the energetic discharge undoubtedly has a positive effect on your mood and emotions. But it doesn’t provide you with the feelings that foreplay — with lots of kissing and touching — does. Yes, foreplay always has a sexual charge involved, nonetheless, if you (emotionally) allow it, it’s a connection, it’s bonding.
As I shared with you at the beginning of this piece, despite loving to have sex with Mr P. and having it every time we meet, yesterday, when feeling emotionally down, my crucial need was for a hug, for the comfort of his touch.
I wanted nothing more than to be skin to skin with him; without sexual intent. I knew his touch and his warm skin would have an anti-depressive effect on me. It would make me feel better. Just a simple touch would change my mood and make my day good.
Emotional touch feeds a basic need. Humans can’t thrive without it.
Make time to touch your lover — to feel their skin, to let them feel yours. Kiss, hug, caress, explore each other’s body. Connect with your lover through the skin — it’s a unique sensation, and the power it has on your mental and emotional health is incredible.
© 2020 Emma London. All Rights Reserved