When ladies haven’t seen each other in some time, high-pitched squeals, long embraces, and cheek kisses may ensue. In fact, general exchanges among women offer plenty of touch. Men don’t often experience this platonic intimacy, and as a result are starved of physical touch. This lack of touch can result in emotional isolation; this is especially true for men whose primary love language is physical touch. Touch is our first language. It is the earliest sense to develop in the womb. It is a stress reducing, tangible form of support and love. Unlike most beneficial things in our society, it is a free and infinite resource. So why are so many men fighting their instincts and suffering from touch deprivation?
Unfortunately sexualization of touch has essentially robbed heterosexual men of one of our most accessible forms of affection. The lack of platonic exchanges of affection has led to men not experiencing physical touch for long periods. This is especially true for men who are single. Having only one source of physical connection is unfair and unhealthy. Many men face the dilemma of either being in a relationship, or a serious lack of physical connection. Haptic communication is vital for survival and its deprivation can often lead to depression. A popular saying by therapist Virginia Satir is, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”
The majority of men fall way below their quota. In a low context culture like America, there is far less touching among men than in a high context culture like that of India, where hugs and even cheek kisses are normal.
No one is modeling positive male touch for young men outside of heterosexual displays of affection. The fact is, the further away from romance and sex men are, the less physical contact takes place within relationships. Romantic partners get the most touch, followed by the acceptable hugs and closeness to family. That is followed by a lesser degree of closeness to platonic women friends and by the time you get to platonic male interaction you're generally talking about handshakes, fist bumps and head nods. That’s a really dangerous message to be sending to young men about love, masculinity, and emotional maturity. It’s time to trash these outdated ideas of manhood and the concept of embracing one another more often.
When's the last time you hugged your boy?
Written By Lola LePaon