#SexColumn: The fear of being touched
By Sharon Gordon
I’m not a huge fan of being touched by people outside of my inner circle and even then, my face and neck are usually out of bounds. The coronavirus has been great for me because I have successfully been able to avoid the huggers and the kissers so it came as a surprise to me that all I wanted from my partner recently was a long, unconditional hug.
It was wonderful to receive and after about 30 seconds I could feel the oxytocin kick in and my body relax. I’ve obviously heard and read about the benefits of hugging, but I’ve never really taken it very seriously.
It’s like cuddling after sex, is there really any point? Wouldn’t you rather move to your side of the bed and go to sleep? I fall into that category and fortunately so does my partner, but I imagine we’d have a problem if one of us was a hugger.
Hugging is fundamental to our emotional and physical wellbeing. It helps reduce stress and can be very comforting to someone in distress. I must add a caveat here that you should always have permission to approach and touch. Chances are if you’re trying to hug me when I’m distressed, you’re likely to be decked.
It is alleged that hugging can boost your immune system and reduce your high blood pressure. I mentioned oxytocin earlier. This is the happy drug manufactured by your body. It makes you feel happier and reduces the stress hormones. Right now, more than ever we need all the help we can get.
Hugs can also help reduce anxiety and pain. I can’t vouch for this, but tests conducted by some very clever universities have reported these outcomes. Unfortunately touching and hugging is becoming increasingly rare and we are becoming touch deprived.
It is alleged that we should receive 4 hugs a day for survival. If you have children, especially small children, you are probably receiving those hugs naturally. If you are in tune with your partner you may or may not be receiving that many.
If your relationship is wobbling, as many are this year because of the increased pressures this year has thrown at us, hugging is no where near us. Take stock of when last you just hugged. No fondling or kissing or groping, just hug.
‘A hug is a form of endearment, universal in human communities, in which two or more people put their arms around the neck, back, or waist of one another and hold each other closely.’
I know that when your relationship is not what it should be, you’d rather stab him than hug him and if you’ve decided that your relationship is not worth saving then start making plans to extricate yourself. But if your think there is something worth saving maybe you should start with a simple hug.
Agree to hug, with no comment or expectation at least twice a day. Try to hold it for 30 seconds or more. You need the 30 seconds for your happy and anti-stress hormones to release, let go and move on.
How did that feel? I’m willing to bet that after a week tensions in your relationship will start to reduce and what seemed like a deal breaker is starting to be an irritation. Timing is everything as is consent. If you want to hug me while I am making the sandwiches, this may not be the best time.
And don’t sneak up on me! Talk about hug time. It might be first thing in the morning before you need to start moving around. Or when you get back from work, or before you get in the shower or bath. Choose a time when you are both not running to the next chore.
You may be an at risk person during this pandemic and hugging or touch may put you in danger so here is what the New York Times suggests: Point your faces in opposite directions — the position of your face matters most. Don’t talk or cough while you’re hugging. And do it quickly. Approach each other and briefly embrace. When you are done, don’t linger. Back away quickly so you don’t breathe into each other’s faces. Wash your hands afterward.
I’m more of the opinion that the longer the hug the bigger the benefit but I am low risk and I’m suggesting hugging in your relationship as a way to make it better.
Hugging has been called the universal healer and I’m suggesting that it may be the first step to mending your troubled relationship. Give it a try and let me know how it goes,