The pandemic brought the term “touch-starved” to the forefront of our lives.
It was very sad to see news clips of families standing outside hospital windows just to get a glimpse of their loved ones. Many people died holding the hand of a medical caregiver instead of the person they have spent their entire adult life next to. It was and still is heartbreaking.
To live a life in which you are touch-starved can be very painful. I say “can be” because a few people don’t like touch, but that is a different issue. For most of us, the touch of a loving hand is one of the most powerful things this life has to offer.
Research says that we touch very little in America, only twice a day and that includes sex!
In the Philippines the average is 181 times a day. Neither my wife nor I are from that part of the world, but we try our best to always touch when we are within arm’s reach. Every time we pass each other in the house, we reach out and touch hands or walk a little closer to each other and hug and/or kiss, just for a few seconds.
I believe that this helps to keep our relationship and our bodies healthy. People who are touch-starved have a harder time with life, physically as well as mentally, because they are missing one of their most important needs. The emotional pain becomes physical as well over time.
Connecting with another human being on this level has become even more important during COVID. Those whom I can hug (the fully vaccinated) get good hugs, and the same goes for a handshake. My first few hugs with friends after months of separation, I felt deeply. It showed me how important that part of our life is, yet we usually take it for granted.
Now many of us are touching again, and I know some never stopped — which at this time in our world may not have been the best choice. The problem is that touch is a deeply rooted physical need — and one of the reasons there are so many people on this earth. We were not meant to be alone.
So now that we can hug and touch those we love without fear of infecting them, I’m seeing more of it going around. The cuddle factor in my home has increased by about 25 percent (even more on chilly nights), and I didn’t think our touching could get any better. We both have noticed it, and now cuddling more will be a permanent part of our lives (except on hot summer nights).
Make sure you get and give that 10-second hug when someone you love leaves or enters the house, and take in every ounce of that energy. When you pass by your partner, reach out for each other for that moment of physical connection. It means more and is worth more than you can imagine.
Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., LMFT, is an award-winning therapist and writer. He is a columnist, blogger and the author of seven books, including “Visualization For Success — 75 Psychological Empowerment Exercises To Get You What You Want In Life.” Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org