How Important Is Physical Touch?

physical touch
couple engaged in physical touch

I have a question about physical touch my girlfriend and I began to date a few months ago. Before that, I ended a long relationship that made me really bitter for a while, but I soon started to meet new people. I felt great chemistry from the first moment I introduced myself to her at a dinner party at my friend’s house. She seemed to me like a very nice and thoughtful person, and we ended going out the next night to see a movie. That is when we started our relationship. Because of my previous experience, I was determined to make this one work. But, now I feel like a divide is growing between us, and it’s starting to bother me. When we go out, it seems to me that my girlfriend completely avoids touching me. When we spend time alone at home, everything is fine, but in public, I almost feel like she has an issue with any kind of physical touch. What can this mean and what should I do in these kinds of situations? I would really like to stay with this girl, but this problem is slowly starting to trouble me. Mark, Colorado.

Human touch is a very complex thing. It originated long before we were conscious as a species, and still has a deeply rooted meaning in our existence, both personal and collective. Here are some facts about touch and other ideas that could help you understand and resolve your problem with your girlfriend.

Physical Touch As a Means of Exploration

When we are born, our primary senses are still being developed. Babies have poor eyesight and still have a long way to go before their brains learn how to process the data that their eyes send them. Their hearing is functional, but they don’t understand any language. That is why their tactile senses work overtime. Babies feel everything in their surroundings with fingers and lips. This is how they try to grasp what is going on, and that is why that even later in life, when we begin to rely primarily on sights and sounds, we still have that strong, almost subconscious connection to our tactile senses and the need for physical touch.

Touching Is Intimacy

It is not odd that you seem confused by your girlfriend’s unwillingness to be touched in public. Touching is a sign of intimacy, and a human touch can have many benefits. A determined and strong hug was shown to be an effective way of relaxation. When we feel uncertain, a slight touch from a friend one can calm us down instantly. In the act of making love, touching sends a message of love and affection that words can transmit accurately. But, physical touch can also carry other meanings that you didn’t intend to include. Touching is indeed a universal human behavior, but like many things, it has a cultural frame of reference.

Different Cultures and Touching

Get acquainted with your girlfriend’s ethnic and national background. There could be a big difference if she grew up in an African-American community or one with Far Eastern origins. Physical touch has distinct meanings in some nations, and may have completely opposite meaning in other. In some regions of the world, even married couples don’t hold hands in public, while in other parts acquaintances tap each other on the shoulders while they engage in short, passing conversations. By understanding your girlfriend’s surroundings, you might get a step closer to figuring out why she seems like she has a problem with touching in public.

Understand Your Point of View

You mentioned that you ended a long relationship before you met this girl. Was touching an issue for you back then? How does that failed relationship impact your expectation of this one? Answer those questions for yourself and make an effort to understand your emotions. If your wants and needs aren’t clear to you, they will probably seem equally unclear to your loved ones.

Communicate Your Needs

This is the crucial point. It is clear that you feel a certain need and that touching means a lot to you. Express your feelings to your girlfriend, but don’t talk about how she makes you feel. This might come off as insensitive or as if you are judging her behavior. Instead, talk about your emotions and needs, and why are they important to you. Ask her how she feels about these issues, and what she thinks about the things you said. Then listen to her, and try to empathize with her no matter what she might say. Understanding, respects and support are paramount in every successful relationship, so grant them to your girlfriend.

With enough effort and an open heart, it is certain that you will resolve all the issues about touching in public. If you are patient, calm and open to emotional communication, you can be sure that your relationship will continue to grow and develop.

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