- relating to or based on the sense of touch
- characterized by a predilection for the sense of touch
I live alone. I’ve lived alone since my divorce eight years ago. Independence is something I value immensely and most of the time I would be hard pressed to compromise. Nothing is ever perfect though and one thing is missing. That is touch.
Harlow’s experiments with contact comfort were done in the 1950’s and have been replicated multiple times over the years. That said, it’s generally understood that lack of contact can result in adverse behaviors both socially and sexually. The experiment showed that contact and comfort will be chosen even over food. This is a gross simplification of the study, but suspend your disbelief for a few moments and indulge me.
Photo of Harlow’s monkey’s
Because the majority of my friends and family live on the other side of the state I can go a very long time without any physical contact with another human being. I feel this contributes to my ability to manage stress and anxiety. It also has an impact in my decision making process.
I’ve always been a sex positive thinker. Live and let live was my motto. That said, casual sex was never my thing. Flash forward a few years post divorce and now there is a different attitude altogether.
Not because I had some mental revelation. Not because I’ve grown into my sexuality. Not because I’ve thrown off conventional models of appropriate social behavior. That was not a part of my journey. No, I engaged in casual sex because it supplied my need for human touch.
Prior to my divorce there was touching. Of course there was sensual touch, but also the more casual forms of affection. A hug, a hand on the back, arm around the shoulder, or head in a lap. There were more playful interactions like snapping towels during the dishes, slaps on the backside on the way out the door, raspberries, zorbits, and even wet willies. If you share a domicile with another human being think about how many ways you touch each other. It’s much more than you might believe.
Then one day it was gone. At first I didn’t notice as there were so many other things to attend to that took priority. As time went on I noticed its absence. Friends encouraged me to date, to meet people.
So I did. Anyone dating knows how frustrating that endeavor can be! That’s a novel in and of its self. Let’s just say it wasn’t fulfilling. And I wasn’t in a place to open up let alone commit to anything. So what’s a highly analytical girl to do? Apply logic.
I wanted touch, they wanted sex. Sex involves touch. Lots and lots of touch. Let’s be honest, I wanted sex too. Problem solved!
Well, temporarily. As anyone who has engaged in the practice of casual sex can tell you, it gets old. It’s empty and eventually you realize you want more from a partner. And that is where I am. I miss the affectionate comfort that comes from rapport. Touch is soothing. It conveys a level of closeness, tenderness, and warmth. The touch of passion and desire don’t always satisfy in the long term. I can find an outlet but it won’t achieve a level of playfulness, equanimity, or inclusion that develops with the openness and conviction of trust.