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Touch Much: Why Is Platonic Affection so Taboo?

Touch Much: Why Is Platonic Affection so Taboo?

By Anna Hennings | Excelle

March 04, 2010

When we’re hungry, it’s simple — we eat. When we’re thirsty, we drink. But what about when you just want to and need to be touched? There are no touch cafés. Touch doesn’t come as a gift with purchase at the Lancôme counter. And if you’re not in a romantic relationship, how do you fill up your touch tank to full?

There are often not enough outlets for affection in platonic relationships. Friends provide emotional support, memorable nights out, advice and adventures, but few friendships are so close that it’s comfortable and acceptable for you two to, say, snuggle on the couch together, or hold each other in a longer-than-usual embrace — one long enough to communicate sincerity but short enough not to be awkward. The line becomes especially blurred if you’re of compatible sexual orientations, because, oh my god, then it must mean you like each other.

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But wanting to be touched is a basic human need. (Without it, we’re so much more susceptible to depression, stress, anxiety, loss in self-confidence and loss in drive and motivation!) And sadly though not surprisingly, we live in a touch-deprived culture that’s comfortable with touch only if it has sexual meaning, if we’re celebrating, if someone is consoling or being consoled, or if it involves raising our kids.

Outside of those exceptions, our culture looks at touch as suspect. We assume something’s wrong, or make meaning where there isn’t any. So, if none of those situations apply to us at the moment — if we are single, happy and not particularly close (physically or emotionally) to family — how can we meet our touch needs without that uh-oh factor?

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