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  • Marjo

The power of present touch

Updated: May 30

Through touch, we can convey feelings, relieve emotional and physical pain and stress, strengthen the immune system, feel a sense of security and even prolong life. Life feels much more meaningful when we receive a loving and caring touch. Human touch can be said to be just as important as eating or breathing.

The physiological and biological effect of touching is very comprehensive. The brain's reward system produces different hormones, such as oxytocin (a feeling of closeness and togetherness) and endorphins (a feel-good hormone), which is why, for example, a hug can comfort more than words. We can touch ourselves, but that is not substitute for being touched by someone we feel good with.

The need to be touched and challenges related to that

If in our childhood we were largely without of loving, accepting touch, it can be challenging to receive it later in adulthood. Touch can feel scary and unpleasant if you have experienced, for example, physical violence or are just not used to it. However, we cannot ignore the fact that human is a herd animal; we need touch and closeness that communicates acceptance, safety and love to us.

A person who hasn't been touched much, doesn't necessarily know how to dig it. Still, there may be a feeling that something is missing or feeling "empty". It can be unconsciously compensated by, for example, shopping, eating, by immersing oneself in work / creating a career or using intoxicants.

The need may also be recognized, but the challenge may be e.g. feelings of shame and embarrassment. The background may be, for example, the belief that the need to touch belongs only to codependent and desperate people, or that touching is interpreted as a sexual approach. Families, relationships, communities and cultures naturally have different perceptions of touching and being touched. We adopt these patterns for ourselves very early on and usually implement them unconsciously, for better or for worse.

Touch and closeness are our basic needs

It is totally normal and accepted to long for closeness, the warmth and touch brought by another person. It's also a different matter to receive touch from, for example, your children, in which case an adult may understandably crave the touch of an adult person and the possibility of more intimate interaction between adults. Touching doesn't have to be limited to relationships and families, it can also be included in other areas of life so that it is not inappropriate or strange.

A few questions to ponder on your own / with a partner:

  • How do you feel about physical touch, being touched or being touched by others?

  • What beliefs do you have about touching?

  • What kind of touch culture has there been in your family / relationships / community / culture?

  • Do you feel you are getting enough accepting, loving touch?

  • Is it natural for you to ask for and receive touch/closeness? If not, what could be the underlying reasons?

  • Do you recognize your own boundaries to being touched and do you also respect the boundaries of others?

  • What are your needs regarding the quantity and quality of touch and closeness?

Touch can be offered in various services, body treatments and massages. Neo-tantramassage and intimacy coaching are an excellent opportunity to receive more intimate touch and closeness.

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