I shared a link on Facebook last week about the importance of human touch, and there was an immediate pile of private messages thanking me. One person shared that just that day a co-worker had touched her shoulder as she scooted past her in a tight space, and it made her realize how much she needed a hug. Although the article focuses on men, it’s true for women, too.
I’m so grateful that Robert is physically affectionate. But then, that’s one of the many reasons I chose him. I’m a hugger, and I couldn’t be partners with someone who wasn’t.
In our current American society, man aren’t really allowed to touch each other platonically. They shake hands, or slap each other butts to celebrate a touchdown, but they don’t hug the way women do. In European nations, it’s not unusual see male friends walking arm-in-arm. We used to do that here, too, but homophobia and general isolation have reduced common touch to a rarity. Look at these pictures. The intimacy of these pals is heartwarming. Let’s spread a little of that around here… grab a friend and give them a squeeze! Have some buddies over for movies and make a puppy pile on the couch!
Human touch is important to generate oxytocin, a hormone linked to social bonding and happiness. The people in Richard Renaldi’s “Touching Strangers” project reported that they actually felt themselves caring for their fellow models, more than they expected. I know some of my massage patients come to see me more for the touch than for the therapeutics. It’s why they keep coming back long after I’ve fixed them. And I’m fine with that – it’s my job to help in any way I can – but if we all just touched a friend’s shoulder now and then we could reduce everyone’s stress quite a bit.