5 ways to get enough touch, without all the pressure

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September 2, 2013 by aggiesez

Cuddling: It's good for people, too!

Cuddling: It’s good for people, too!

People are really touchy. That is, most people desire or require touch and affection on a regular basis — nonsexual as well as sexual. No kidding: touch helps keep you healthy and happy. (Don’t believe me? The National Institutes of Health says so.)

This is why in the last few years I’ve gotten very creative about how I meet my needs for affectionate touch. And I’m a much happier person because of this. You can be, too.

The catch is, we live a generally sex-negative (and thus oversexualized, but not in a good way) society. And a highly couple-centric one at that. Consequently, almost any human interaction is subject to intense scrutiny and judgment according to its potential sexual overtones — and whether those overtones are deemed socially “normal” or “good,” or “wrong” or “dangerous.”

Most of us, at some point, worry about whether casual touch or affection with someone who is not already an intimate partner might “send the wrong message” (particularly about whether we’d like to ride the relationship escalator with that person), “start a rumor,” confuse/offend the person we touch or cause anyone witnessing such gestures to negatively assess our character or judgment.

I'm writing a book about non-standard approaches to relationships. Want to help? Take this survey to share your views and experiences of relationships that aren't on society's standard relationship escalator.

I’m writing a book about non-standard approaches to relationships.
Want to help? Take this survey to share your views and experiences of relationships that aren’t on society’s standard relationship escalator

Even the vast body of research that’s been done into the physical and psychological effects of casual touch and affection mostly focuses on couples — contact that happens within the context of an established intimate partnership. That sends the unfortunately limiting message: Touch is good for you and you need it, but it’s only safe/acceptable to seek it from your partner. (And if you don’t have a partner, you need to get one first.)

This can make it awkward simply to converse or spend time one-on-one with someone who could be even slightly construed as a potential sexual partner — let alone affectionately touch other people who aren’t already established as your lover or partner. Because in this society, unless you’re talking about hugging a close relative or a child in your care, or shaking the hand of someone you’ve just met, or helping someone who needs physical assistance, or paying for a clothed chair massage, all touch is considered potentially sexual and therefore risky because of what it might “mean” or “lead to.”

In other words, touch often gets framed in terms of roles and control rather than simple human connection. Most of us at some point try (usually subconsciously) to influence the thoughts, feelings, and actions of others by refraining from touch. It’s the ultimate in hands-off micromanagement. Yeah, I’ve done it too. I still do, sometimes. Welcome to life in the real world.

…Sure, many of us have gotten over that social crap well enough to be comfortable hugging our friends (even our attractive ones), either to say hello/goodbye, or to punctuate emotionally significant moments or exchanges. That’s some progress. But for most people, occasional, brief, friendly hugs aren’t enough to keep us happy.

This sucks for everyone. It can especially suck for solo people who don’t have — and who maybe don’t want — a primary-style relationship, whether they consider themselves monogamous or not.

One big reason why people engage in intimate relationships is to gain reliable access affection and touch. Because, under current social norms, intimate partners are the main (and perhaps only) people you’re “allowed” to be physically affectionate with. In fact, many people believe their partners “owe” them affection and touch on demand; or that it’s a scarce resource which partners must ration strictly for each other. Which screws up our relationship to casual intimacy even more, by conflating expressions of status and territoriality with the experience of comfort and affection.

(Then there’s the additional screwiness of social norms dictating limited access to honest consensual sex, an issue poly people handle differently than monogamous people, but I’ll leave that aside at the moment…)

In fact, “keeping in touch” in a physical sense is a big reason why I’ve seen so many people dive far too hastily into intimate relationships — and be far too slow to leave unhealthy or unfulfilling ones. When I talk to people who say they feel lonely, one of the most acute and painful parts of that experience is lack of easy access to affectionate touch (cuddling, caressing, nonsexual kissing, etc.).

I’m speaking from experience here. I’ve felt pretty damn lonely many times during my life — including within long-term committed relationships. It hurts. Fortunately I’ve found that loneliness is usually solvable — at least in terms of touch and affection.

When it comes to touch, most of us have lots of options — if we’re willing to reach out, ask for touch, set aside social norms, and stop caring too much about the scrutiny and judgment of others. Honestly, who and how you touch is probably not very interesting to most people, so loosen up! Having this bit of courage is the key to physically connecting with people in a positive, nurturing way.

How I get enough touch, without having a steady partner

Personally, I like living alone and I don’t have (and don’t want) a conventional primary partner. I’m open to having deeper, ongoing committed relationships — and while I’m dating two men, at the moment I don’t have a “steady partner” in any committed sense.

I’m fine with that — in part because I still get enough touch to keep me happy. Here’s how I do that. (Your mileage may vary, of course.)

1. I can take no for an answer, gracefully. I’m listing this point first because it really is the most important part. Touch can only be affectionate and nurturing when it is 100% mutually consensual! And you can only really hear, and enjoy, a yes when you can accept a no.

It doesn’t matter if you really believe that someone “needs a hug.” Always ask first, especially if you don’t have a prior history of sharing physical affection with that person.

Don’t proceed until you have a clear and positive visual or verbal response. When it comes to touch, a “maybe” or no noticeable response should be taken as a “no” — since so many of us are socialized to avoid rejecting others.

There are gray areas, sure — like casually touching someone’s shoulder when you’re both laughing at a joke. Or maybe a friend who usually likes hugs doesn’t want one at that particular moment. None of us are 100% perfect about asking for consent before all casual touch. Just do your best: pay attention to, and honor, the feedback you get. People will show or tell you when they’re not comfortable with you touching them.

Here’s the rough part: It is totally okay for someone to not want to touch you — you, personally! — even if they are currently touching other people around you. This is when you really need to evaluate whether you just want touch, or whether you’re trying to initiate or deepen a connection with that specific person. If you want to connect, for whatever reason, with a person who’s pulling back from you, pushing their boundaries definitely won’t help matters. Give it a rest.

If in a given situation you really just want affectionate touch, go find it from someone who clearly wants to share it with you. And if you’re really honest about wanting touch and affection — rather than sex, romance, or jumping on the relationship escalator — be willing to get touch from someone to whom you’re not sexually attracted. (Yes, that means straight guys can cuddle other guys, or anyone they wouldn’t like to have sex with, and that’s OK!)

2. I have good friends, and I trust them. Developing a robust network of friends — especially local friends — can be a great source of emotional and physical comfort. I often hug my friends who are comfortable with it, and ask them about their comfort level with hugging or other touch if I’m not sure. I’m also honest and comfortable enough with my friends to tell them I like and need cuddling, and to ask if they are too. Consequently, when I need cuddles and touch, I can usually get it. It’s not always immediate, and sometimes I have to do without, but more often than not I can get the touch and affection I need.

Best of all, this does NOT “weird out” my friends, or cause sexual tension. I do have some cuddle-friends who I also sometimes have sex with, but many more who I don’t. I talk with my friends honestly about sexual tension where it exists, and we figure out what would/would not work for us.

For instance, one of my closest local friends is a poly-leaning guy in a monogamous marriage. He’s told me in the past he finds me attractive, and he’s naturally very flirty. I love him dearly, but I’ve never been sexually attracted to him. We even went out on a “date date” (with his wife’s consent) one time a few years ago, and kissed — and he said after that he realized that yeah, the chemistry isn’t really there for him either.

When we get together now, we often cuddle — and I cuddle sometimes with his wife as well, she’s a good friend too.

I’m not cuddly with all of my friends, however. For instance, one of my dearest friends is a woman who is both very body-modest (we live in different states and visit once or twice a year, and I’ve never seen her nude) and only cuddly with her partners and kids. But she is one of the people I’m most emotionally intimate with. We hug, and we’ve even slept in the same bed, but we don’t cuddle, and that’s comfortable for us both.

Every relationship finds its own level. I trust my friends enough that we can explore and find our mutual comfort level without making things weird between us.

3. I take advantage of “socially acceptable” opportunities for touch. In particular, I am a total massage junkie, so I get a professional massage once or twice a month. Nobody — not even my most socially and sexually conservative acquaintances, bats an eye at this. And while some of this is to relieve muscle tension (yeah, I write a lot, and my shoulders show it!) it’s also an important form of nurturing.

In fact, I started getting massages many years before I realized that polyamory and cuddling with friends are valid, healthy options. So even if you’re totally monogamous and straitlaced, you can probably loosen up enough to get a massage. If you’re needing touch, this helps. As long as you’re not expecting a massage therapist to provide sexual release or emotional comforting, it’s fine with everyone.

You don’t have to be nude or in a private room to get a great professional massage. Chair massage opportunities abound, and they’re often in public or semi-public spaces, like natural food stores and airports. If you’re body-shy or nervous about touch from strangers, this is a good way to start. Request a gentle or relaxing massage if you know you need basic touch more than relief from, say, neck pain.

Other people I know get some of their touch needs met through dance: especially salsa, improv, and contra dancing. There are also “ecstatic dance” events (freeform and not couple-centric) in many cities, and often these involve a lot of casual touch. And at any dance club, you can usually find partners who you can touch casually during the dance. As far as your parasympathetic nervous system is concerned, it all counts as reassuring human contact. I’ve been to dance events and enjoy them, but I’m not much of a dancer so it’s never my first choice for getting touch. But if you like dancing and want touch, it’s worth a shot.

4. I attend cuddle/snuggle parties. This is an organized, nonsexual event where people get together to explore nonsexual, nurturing touch in a safe, consensual environment. Yeah, it sounds woo-woo, and being from NJ I’m allergic to woo-woo, but this is actually a simple and awesome experience. You can learn more about cuddle parties at Cuddleparty.com, or find less formally organized cuddle and snuggle groups locally through Meetup.com or Facebook. Usually all alcohol and drugs are prohibited, to promote full awareness and consent.

Just yesterday I attended an amazing cuddle party with a new group of people in Denver. There were about a dozen attendees — one was a friend, there were three people I’d met before briefly, and the rest were strangers. There was about a half hour of orientation and exercises about consent and tuning into your needs and preferences, followed by a couple hours of nonsexual, clothed cuddling on the floor in a clean, open room with lots of blankets and pillows.

I got a fantastic massage from my friend, and cuddled with several people — men and women I did not know. Everyone was respectful, and the one person whose personality annoyed me slightly I did not need to interact with in any way. I left there feeling incredibly nurtured, practically high on it. Good thing I wasn’t driving! And I slept very, very well last night.

Yeah, this kind of gathering might weird some people out. That’s fine, they don’t have to attend, it’s totally voluntary. I get weirded out by how people act at football games, board meetings and most religious ceremonies, so we’re even.

If you attend, no one is ever required to cuddle at all. I’ve seen people just sit back and politely observe and converse at cuddle parties, without cuddling. That’s totally fine. That’s one way of exploring and expanding your comfort zone. But still: don’t knock the concept until you’ve tried it. You may surprise yourself in a very good way, that might help you be a much happier person.

5. I host informal friends-only cuddle parties. I have a circle of cuddly local friends, and we’ve been doing monthly “Movies + Snuggles” parties since June. This is by invitation only, with people who I’m certain are comfortable with casual snuggling and who mostly already know each other. I arrange the space to be conducive to cuddling (pillows and blankets help), serve some light refreshments (I usually offer wine and beer along with soda and snacks/light appetizers). Then we watch one or two movies or several TV show episodes — usually comedy or cult classics, chosen by popular demand from the guests. (Apple TV and Netflix are very useful for this.)

…And we snuggle. At my house, it’s usually just mellow, clothed cuddling and massage. Maybe some exploratory kissing or light erotic touch. When some other friends have hosted, sometimes these gatherings have shaded into more of a sexual play party (they have more space and privacy from neighbors than I do) — but not an orgy by any means. The emphasis is cuddling, fun, and friendship. It rocks.

ANYWAY, when I put all this together, I manage to give and receive lots of nurturing, affectionate touch on a regular basis even without having a steady boyfriend. And this offers an additional benefit: It encourages me to keep my personal standards for intimate relationships very high. And I very rarely feel lonely, unwanted, or unloved.

Oh, and of course — when you have lots of ways to meet your needs for touch, whether or not you have some kind of steady lover or partner, it’s much easier find ways to meet your needs for sex, too. Although that’s a separate issue, worthy of a future post.

How well are you needs for touch and affection being met? What are you doing — and what can you do — to make that happen? What opportunities and obstacles do you encounter? Please comment below.

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26 thoughts on “5 ways to get enough touch, without all the pressure

  1. E.H. says:

    Great article. This is a good one for me, personally and some of your observations were eye opening for me. Thanks.

  2. Jez says:

    A friend has found a great source of touch in acrobatic yoga – if this is available wherever you are, I urge you to try it. It seems to be a great way of trying yoga, too!

    • aggiesez says:

      Excellent suggestion, thanks! Also several places offer partner yoga classes where you can partner up with someone else who happens to be there, you don’t have to bring a partner.

  3. indigotiger says:

    What an excellent clearly thought out essay… I do not get anywhere near my optimal amount of touch in my everyday life. I have been realising lately that not only do I need to be touched, I also have a need to touch. I have been asking friends for hugs a bit more when I see them, and I am grateful that my new lover is very tactile/cuddly.

    In the past, I had more tactile time: for about ten years swapped housecleaning for massage every other week, till I moved away from that city. I have lived closer to my few intimate connections, but where I live now I see either of them maybe once a month if that. For almost fifteen years, I had a dog, which while not in the same category as human companionship, was definitely a connection with a tactile component, as she needed to be brushed, and she was fond of leaning against me while I was reading, and welcomed having her head and ears petted, when I remember her is when I realise that I miss having “something/someone to touch”

    I find the idea of cuddle parties interesting, but wonder what the target demographic is for such things, and if I would be too far at one end of the bell curve for both age and weight? I suppose the only way to find out would be to find out if there is a local option…

    • aggiesez says:

      Glad you liked the post.

      Regarding your question about cuddle parties, “I wonder what the target demographic is for such things, and if I would be too far at one end of the bell curve for both age and weight?” Hmmm… sounds like you might be basing your decision to explore this type of option on conventional benchmarks for sexual attractiveness — which is really not the point here at all.

      If you’re only willing to exchange affectionate touch with people who would be considered conventionally sexually attractive, you’re really cutting out a lot of options — which will work against you, if what you seek is touch and affection, rather than sex.

      • indigotiger says:

        I didn’t mean to give an impression that I was only willing to exchange affectionate touch with conventionally attractive people, but rather the opposite, that as I am neither young, pretty, or slender, that I have often been ignored at social occasions where I don’t know anyone. I don’t tend to find “conventionally attractive” people of either gender particularly attractive, and am not particularly looking to find new sex partners, but would like to find a way to include more touch in my life. I guess I just need to be brave, try new things, and not take rejection so personally…

  4. Eponine says:

    Thanks for this awesome post! I’m going to share this on AVEN, because apparently it applies to many asexuals and aromantics who want affectionate touch but don’t want a “proper” romantic-sexual relationship.

  5. redpenofjustice says:

    Great article. I do a lot of social dancing, mostly tango, and I really need it to feel good and grounded when I’m not dating anybody. I’m sure it’s the touch as well as a form of emotional intimacy. If you want to try this I recommend checking out blues dancing or argentine tango. Both use a very touchy “close embrace” and both are heavily improvised, which means partners need to tune into each other every moment. IMO blues is easier to start but tango is more deeply intimate once you get the hang of it. Then again, I only just started blues so I’m surely prejudiced. 🙂

  6. Ace says:

    Reblogged this on The Thinking Asexual and commented:
    I really appreciate this post. I’ll have to see if I can incorporate some or all of these methods in my own life, until I’ve got passionate, romantic, and queerplatonic friends who can be sources of regular physical affection.

    The analysis of why nonsexual physical touch is so inaccessible in our society, outside of romantic-sexual relationships, is spot-on. I noticed this early in my life, and it’s one of the reasons I used to suffer so much in my late teens–to the point of intense suicidal desire–at the idea of being unattached the rest of my life due to my celibacy/asexuality. Touch is my love language. There’s nothing I want or need more than that, in order to feel loved and wanted and cared for by others. And I want LOTS of it in my passionate friendships, romantic friendships, and queerplatonic friendships.

    I’ve learned how to make peace with the amount of physical touch I have in my life, and I hope that I can maintain that sense of peace, no matter what kind of relationships come into my life down the road. Of course, ideally, I’ll meet the right asexuals for me, and I’ll never go a day without large doses of physical affection thereafter.

  7. Gloria says:

    Have you been to a cuddle party with the “Be The Love You Are” group in Boulder? I haven’t, but it sounds really interesting. They also sell snuggles as a part of their services, similar to paying for a massage. Interesting stuff.

  8. Ryan says:

    This was fascinating. My desire for sex is pretty low, but my desire for touch is really high. I’ve been really struggling to find relationships that work for me. This piece is so incredibly helpful. Thank you 😀

  9. princess liminality says:

    This article is lovely and useful — as far as it goes. How much and what kinds of touch are permitted is deeply cultural. For many people of color in the US (as well as Americans raised abroad), our sense of how much to touch is distinct from the prevailing cultural norms. If you choose to write about this in your book (and I hope you do!), look into the impact of culture on touch. The diversity of acceptable contact around the world is vast, and then to see how those cultural strands weave into the US fabric is quite illuminating.

  10. Picky Poly says:

    Before reading this — and because my life lacks the stability/routine required to responsibly care for cuddly pets — I was feeling pretty well S.O.L. when it comes to getting enough touch. But in this post you posed quite a few ideas that I either hadn’t thought of, or hadn’t considered as avenues for getting enough nurturing touch. Thank you! Thanks also for pointing out and analyzing the societal barriers to getting enough touch. That’s definitely something I’d never considered.

    • Not sure, but guessing you hadn’t yet heard about the “Swap Touch Support Network”?
      I don’t know what name it goes by where you are. (Hope I’m not violating any “rules” by mentioning it in print here.)

      Described to me as having come from some creative minds decades ago, to answer precisely this same kind of awareness recognition you mention here: we all have touch needs, essential for our survival. How do we as a society set up institutions, methods, ways that meet these without having to get married to someone, adopt pets, have to have sex — just to be physically close to someone nice?

      How about some ways that are as wonderfully fulfilling as imaginable, safe, cheap, accessible to all… ?

      Takes longer to explain in print than it does in person, but I haven’t seen anything else on the net about this, so here goes.
      I’ve found this to be a fabulous structure that I’ve used countless times over dozens of years. Happy to pass this on, make sure other people know about it, share onwards with their friends…

      No dues, no central authority. Simply four agreements:

      You talk to your friend, or you meet someone, if the subject gets around to touch, you describe these four to them, see how it feels. If it feels okay, you move forward to schedule a mutually agreeable day, time, place, and amount of time you are going to swap, say 20 minutes.
      FIRST AGREEMENT: you both get equal time.
      Nobody’s time is “worth more” than anyone else’s.

      Say you go first, your job as the touchee is to explain, as best. and precisely, and ongoingly *exactly* what type of touch you *most* want. What is it for you? — the best possible you can imagine? And to clearly communicate same to your swap touch partner, as best you possibly can. [“Communication is on the communicator.”] This is the SECOND AGREEMENT.

      (Over the years, I’ve had people from all over the country get really creative not only with where they want to be touched, how much pressure, in what direction/vector … but also saying more ‘out there’ things like
      • “Uh, your touch is feeling to me way too sensitive, precise, exacting, conscious, exacting. Could you ‘dumb it down’ a bit?”
      • Or, “wow, way too yellow-orange, could you try moving your energy field a little more towards the blue-green end of the spectrum?”
      • Or, “Take some deep breaths. Please. Relax your hands more; be more casual. it’s okay. Quit trying so hard. More relaxed you are, easier it is for me to relax. Model it for me. You know? ‘Fake it til you make it.’ – Okay?”)

      The THIRD AGREEMENT is that the person doing the touching will do their best to follow and obey and go with ONLY and not more than or other than what the person being touched asks for.
      While it may be okay as the Toucher to ask if “something more along *this* type of touch might help?” but basically, the constant and ever present presumption here is that the Touchee knows, can and will specify, exactly what they want. It is *never* the task, or responsibility, or job description of the Toucher to know, or figure out, try to mind read … better than what that person is saying they want. Not their job description. If they happen to , it is *very* simple, easy, common, to quickly stop and make simple reference to Second Agreement: “Hello. Stop. I didn’t ask for this.” IF they don’t immediately get to be on the same page with you, fine to end the session there. It is that important. No one has the right to presume they know what is better for the other person.
      Kind of insulting, really. Huge boundary violation. Definitely important to clear about, specify explicitly up front. Call someone on if they drift off, go unthinking, unconsciously stray across this important boundary.
      Unless the Touchee explicitly asks for this, which I have also seen happen. I have heard, “I just want to relax here. Do *anything* you feel like, within this range, and boundary and I’ll let you know if anything else comes to mind.”

      I myself am a huge fan of these second and third agreements. Both because I was an early childhood survivor of unwanted, inappropriate touch, and because in my current day job, I get paid (a lot) to be psychically intuitive, it is a huge relief for me to know that, being touched, I am only going to get what I ask for, — as well as — as the one doing the touching I only have to do what they ask, and not have to regularly access that part of me that figures out inside me what would be really helpful to them.

      Two limits to the Third are important as well.
      Your job as the toucher is to do and to only do what they explicitly ask for — and — within whatever skill level and boundary comfort level is true for you.
      You don’t have to be better at touch than you are.
      and
      You do not have to do what feels beyond the limits of what you feel comfortable doing.

      Be open to discussing, negotiating, trying to see if you can find the win-win.
      But you are not required to do more that you feel comfortable doing.
      No matter how clearly and specifically someone asks you to do a type of touch that they want, that if you don’t feel like it. You can say no. Period. They have to accept that. And then you see if there is some type of touch that would work for both of you.

      If this seems like it might be an issue, yes, bring it up ahead of time, it’s usually one of the first questions people have, ‘What about, you know… Do I *have* to ___ ?”
      The answer is no.

      But here’s an example of a great simple easy work-around, negotiation past the No.
      Myself, I love to have a person’s full weight upon me. And my partner had had her share of unwanted inappropriate touch in her life, was not going to just lie on top of me.
      I asked, “How about if we put a bunch of blankets between us, would that work?” Willing to try that. Five or six layers later we were both fine. Yay!

      FOURTH AGREEMENT — simply: “This does not mean that.”

      Because this network of people is explicitly and by intention designed to provide the best most appropriate kind of touch *imaginable* for each person, over time the tendency often arises to start projecting onto your partner that this person is a lot more than someone who is simply participating in the Swap Touch Support structure.
      Fourth agreement addresses that directly. “This is not that” means we are not dating, not “seeing each other.” This is not heading onto the relationship escalator. No. The structure’s GREAT. We are having a GREAT time connecting *within* it. This does not mean at all that we might even have a chance of liking being together each other outside the structure.
      May be, but probably not.

      Some people I’ve met (from experience) just as a policy don’t go there, won’t go down that painful path, just “checking out” the dis-illusion. So that while they may introduce a bit of Swap Touch structure into *other* intimate relationships, but they’ve just decided to not bang their heads against the fourth agreement.

      (Doesn’t mean you “can’t” date someone who is a Swap Touch partner, but that we agree upfront that it would be a perfectly understandable mistake to assume that just because the structure has worked so well for us [and we each regularly have amazingly positive experiences…] that this would somehow necessarily say anything about our chances of making it outside the structure.

      Good to know, state upfront. Agree to. “This does not mean that.”

      That’s it. Four agreements. Simple, powerful, effective.
      You know of or find anything else that works great for you– or better!– LOVE to know about it.

      So true about the women and cats, people feeling like they *have* to hook up just to have the physical affection, closeness time.

      Lonely men going regularly to prostitutes, willing to pay to have someone hold them.

      It’s about time we came out. Talked honestly openly about our touch needs.
      (Didn’t see ref to good book I read decades back, “Touch Starvation in America.”)
      Each of us, alone and feeling there must be something specially wrong with *me*, other people seem to be able to get by. They can “pass” … What’s wrong with me??
      The guilt. The feeling “needy,” — No! not that!! — hungry ghosts, that will never get “enough.” The trying [unsuccessfully] to hide, that no one else should *ever* know.
      We ourselves, trying hard to avoid putting “too much” attention on it … “Focusing on it just makes it worse.” And yet also trying aware enough to try to avoid the “spiritual bypass” of Denial.

      Then we find ourselves acting out, seemingly out of control, trying to run from ourselves, from our own bodies. Live in isolation, scared.
      Ouch!

      What a great burden to come out from under and behind all this!
      What a great thing as a society, as a people, to put our best, most creative, innovative, thinking into, helping solve this need we ALL have!

      We’ve known since 10th grade biology class that monkeys will actually die if they lack enough simple physical closeness and affectionate touch. Yes?

      Can we agree to put some more time and attention on working to solve this effectively?

      Here’s to breaking the silence, to coming out of the isolation, to coming up with and sharing even more ways that work, that don’t stigmatize, blame the victim, make things worse.
      To recognizing we are all in this together.
      To solving this so well.

      Like you said, getting this unrecognized need met, this hunger satisfied, (with that massage), you feel so high you’re glad you don’t have to drive.

      Keep on!
      Keep in touch.

      Paul C. Hoffman,
      Berkeley
      founder, EarthSeals.com

  11. […] “In other words, touch often gets framed in terms of roles and control rather than simple human connection. Most of us at some point try (usually subconsciously) to influence the thoughts, feelings, and actions of others byrefraining from touch. It’s the ultimate in hands-off micromanagement. Yeah, I’ve done it too. I still do, sometimes. Welcome to life in the real world.” 5 ways to get enough touch, without all the pressure – SoloPoly […]

  12. Fishgoat says:

    Wow. I am actually crying here because there’s so much in this that I want and no idea how to go about getting any of it without a) turning into a overly needy/immeshing tentacle monster and b) turning it sexual. In any event, I’m loving the rest of the site too. 🙂

  13. […] and you don’t get enough’, I find that the evidence is really flimsy. For example, this blog post says “most people desire or require touch and affection on a regular basis … touch helps […]

  14. folamibayode says:

    Having been inspired to do more cuddling from reading your article aggiesez, I did a search for cuddle or snuggle groups in my area of Europe. nearest one is in Germany or UK, both 4-5hrs travel away. I came across this article that may be the reason why i cannot find a snuggle party in Amsterdam, Netherlands. I was thinking of starting my own group, but not sure about this research! :I http://www.uva.nl/en/news-events/news/uva-news/content/news/2011/01/cuddle-hormone-leads-to-prejudices.html

  15. starfish says:

    I discovered my need for casual touch in my sports group, where it just happened (martial arts with acrobatic elements and sometimes even partnered stretching exercises) and where people are a little more physical and open than the main section of our society. Some of my buddies there are comfortable with bear hugs, holdings hands clasped for a moment longer than necessary, or just playfully bumbing with our shoulders into each other. To me it also communicates the trust that is necessary to play with a partner, knowing they won’t hurt you too bad nor use the rough and tumble moments to touch you inappropriately. Needless to say I fell in love with this subculture.

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