Are Most of Us Touch Deprived?

Why we may need more touching and human contact, and how we get it.

Posted Mar 11, 2015

I was intrigued by the story of a Portland woman who has opened a shop called “Cuddle Up To Me.”  For a dollar a minute, this “professional cuddler” will hold hands, rub feet, or lay on a bed and spoon a client.  It started me thinking about other recent trends for services that involve touching—basic, and non-sexual human contact.

It seems that nearly every month a new therapeutic massage business or spa opens, and the number of people who get regular massages seems to have grown exponentially.  There also appears to be an increase in chiropractic services and wholistic healers that involves the healing powers of touch.

I’ve written elsewhere about the many “powers” of touch, to cause arousal, positive feelings, and, of course, to stimulate sexual interest and attraction, but this seems very different.  These forms of concentrated professional touching seem to fulfill a more basic need for human contact and comfort. 

For the most part, we go through our hectic daily lives rarely touching other people.  We rush out the door with a hurried good bye and perhaps a quick kiss to our loved ones, and go to a workplace and stay in our bubbles of personal space, with virtually no physical contact with others.  It’s no wonder that many of us feel touch deprived.

Perhaps our touch deprivation has led us to greet friends and family members with more physical contact.  About 35 years ago, I conducted some studies on greetings, and aside from shaking hands, male-to-male greetings rarely involved physical contact.  Today, I notice far more hugging between male friends and family members when they greet and say farewell.  Female hugging in greeting and saying goodbye also seems to have increased over the years as we try to fulfill that need for physical contact.

What are your thoughts on the issue, and have you noticed changes in our yearning for more physical contact?

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