Is Touch Starvation Killing The Man You Love?
When it comes to relationships as experienced by men, physical touch is often overlooked.
Let’s be honest: women are touched more often than men in both their romantic and friendly relationships. Women communicate often with hugs, hand-holding, and simple pats on the back to express affection and closeness between other women.
But what about men? While it’s true that physical touch between most men is sparse at best (and is most likely completely lacking), we need to recognize its importance when it comes to male mental health.
Especially in their romantic relationships.
Physical touch, and the men who never get it
We often focus on communication and emotional closeness as the primary components for healthy relationships, which is no doubt important. But what about physical touch? It turns out that lack of physical contact can have a profound impact on men’s mental health — even though the issue isn’t discussed very much.
Touch deprivation or “touch starvation” has long been associated with children who don’t receive enough physical contact from their caregivers. This problem also affects adults, and especially males, in terms of their overall well-being.
When people experience long periods without any kind of meaningful physical connection with someone else, it can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. Especially if that someone else is their romantic partner.
It might sound surprising considering just how connected many couples stay throughout a normal day: texting, video calls, social media updates etc.. In the evening, there are talks over dinner, binging some shows on Netflix together, and maybe even having an exciting sex session.
All of these things are great, but they are not substitutes for direct human purposeful contact — at least when it comes to men’s psychological needs.
After all, humans are biologically wired for touch; skin-to-skin contact releases oxytocin (the “love hormone”) into our bloodstreams which has positive effects such as calming us down…