Posted in Mental Health

The Importance of Touch

As a generation, I feel we have become so disconnected from touch and the importance of it (unless we are touching our ipads or smartphones). Even the lightest brush of a hand of a strange will result in the most profound apologies. Even when friends do it, it can lead to mild embarrassment. I was walking with my best male friend friend a few weeks ago and as we turned a corner, he turned a little too far and his hand accidentally brushed my hand. He apologised profusely and I brushed it off with a joke that I wasn’t going to take his hand in case we bumped into his girlfriend and gave her the wrong impression.

It’s not as though either of us think it isn’t manly. We do hug when seeing each other for the first time in a long time. It isn’t that thump-the-back-man-hug either but it is far more “manly” than how we might greet our respective female friends. I am affectionate and recently I have seen Bookworm and Miss Outdoors – two women I met online dating but I now consider nothing more than friends (and the latter has a boyfriend) – and hugged them both. Separately, by the way… they don’t know each other.

But anyway… my second date with Mirror Image was obviously very touchy-feely. On our first date in December we hugged a little, tentatively and cautiously, but that was about it. When I kissed her cheek goodbye, she got embarrassed which prompted me to kiss the other cheek and watch her turn beetroot-red. This second date was a very different affair and it made me realise how important touching is for our mental states in general and for building relationships (any relationships) in particular.

Hugging, kissing (we kissed a lot and oh how I have really missed that!) and holding hands – innocent touches mostly but it felt so wonderful and made me realise how much I’ve missed it the last three years. Each time we touched I felt that much happier, that this meant something to her and to me, that she wanted and craved that important physical contact as much as I did – and that we were bonding. It got me thinking about what it is we are missing and what makes us miserable (sometimes) when we are single. Is it having someone? To know that somebody cares? Or is it merely missing those simple and innocent touches that have the ability to make us feel alive?

I love the intimacy of holding hands – far more intimate than a hug and feels (to me at least) that we have really bonded and somehow more committal than the act of kissing. It says “He/She is mine and I am proud to show it”. The most blissful feeling though was the night we spent together. When her alarm went off for work, she switched it off and immediately rolled over to cuddle up to me *happy sigh*

She is coming to stay with me in a couple of weeks and I am really looking forward to more of the same!

The Benefits of Touch:

The positive psychological effects are well documented and they include the following:

  • Expresses affection
  • To bond to and to feel bonded to
  • Builds trust
  • As a physical demonstration of emotional support it reduces stress and anxiety, and lowers blood pressure
  • Fulfils a basic human need for physical contact

This interesting article from HuffPo shows one woman’s positive experiences from an experiment in touching more. I would even go so far as to say that (most of the time) watching other people touch can be a heart-warming experience. There are exceptions of course: when you are going through a break up and all you can see is couples snuggling, kissing and holding hands. Believe me, I know from personal experience on that one!

So touch your loved ones, let your wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, parents and children know that you care. Don’t just tell them, show them… it’ll make you and them feel better.

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Author:

I go by the name of Frank Speaking. My blog "In the Mind of Men" (former name Chin Up, Chest High) started out as a chronicle of my mental health recovery. Now it is a forum where I discuss issues related to male mental health.

2 thoughts on “The Importance of Touch

    1. Welcome! The physical affection I shared with Mirror Image the other week made made me realise how much I have craved it since my marriage started to break down.

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