How often do you receive caring, platonic touch?
Platonic, physical connection between two people – light affection expressed through simple touch – is becoming scarcer. We accomplish much of what we need to survive as humans with a few clicks on our electronic devices: send emails or texts, make phone calls, order food, buy things, find a place to live. Even when there is human connection involved (a movie with a friend, apartment-hunting with your partner, dinner with your family), often there’s not a lot of touching that happens as a part of these actions. But touch is pretty powerful.
Most people spend very little time touching one another. There’s really no social context for any extended session of touch other than sex – often fast and short, lacking any long, relaxing, pressure-free exchange of touch. It seems that platonic touch is almost taboo in American culture today, especially between men. Scientists have written on the importance of touch, and say we live in a touch-starved society.
One of the goals of my massage practice is to provide a safe space for people to receive touch, without any agenda beyond their own well-being. When I ask clients if they receive regular touch from friends or partners, the answer is usually, “Not really”, and sometimes “Yes, but only when we’re making love.” Many of my clients (like most of us) are unaccustomed to receiving regular platonic touch. They spend the first part of their massage remembering to relax, as I coach them on breathing deeply and sinking back into their body. Often people tell me things like, “I didn’t realize how tense I was until you started massaging me,” or simply “You helped me feel good about my body again.” The smiles I see after working with clients are the same centered, grounded, satisfied smiles of people who have had a good meal or restful sleep.
Regular touch is literally vital for us. So why not go get some?!
Come back next week for the next installment in this series, about the importance of regular touch in improving body image. Many people feel a lack of connection to their body, or dislike what they see when they look in the mirror. I use touch to help people feel more connected to their bodies, and more comfortable living in them, and I’ll share more about how I do that.