Whether you’re hugging your child or caressing a lover, touch shows affection much faster than words ever could. Your brain and the multitude of nerve endings in your skin are the reasons why touch feels so nice. Your brain accepts touch communication faster than it understands words, which have to be processed first through the speech centres.
Unfortunately, many people find that the amount of touching in their relationship declines over time, which can sow the seeds of discontent and contribute to sexual difficulties. Touch comes
naturally to couples falling in love but notoriously fades over time. Older adults tend to respond especially strongly to touch as a signal of love because they’re often “touch deprived”.
The message you’re sending: “We’re connected.”
When we experience friendly, affectionate touch, our bodies release oxytocin, which is sometimes called the love hormone. Oxytocin’s effects include lowering blood pressure, decreasing the stress-related hormone cortisol and increasing pain tolerance. It is released through friendly touch, including contact between breastfeeding moms and their babies, cuddling couples and even pets and their owners. Other benefits of touching:
- Enhances growth in children.
- Improves emotional, physical and cognitive functioning.
- Lowers blood pressure and heart rate.
- Reduces cortisol levels (Stress).
- Stimulates memory.
- Increases Oxytocin levels, so uplifts emotions.
- Boosts the immune system.
A 2011 study by the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction polled over a 1,000 men and their female partners in five countries about the power of touch. Their study concluded that for men between the ages of 40 and 70, regular cuddling was more important than sex. (can you believe it?) The more men hugged and kissed, the more content they were in their relationships.
If seeing is believing, then touching is knowing.
Counter the trend of decreased intimacy over time with a daily intentional hug, a shoulder squeeze, letting your knees touch as you sit opposite each other. Holding hands, hugging, leaning into each other while sitting, placing a hand on your partner’s arm or leg or back takes little effort in the long run, yet it can pay out big relationship dividends. It’s all about putting forth the effort for more intimacy. And truly it’s not about being sexual. Physical intimacy is about all kinds of physical contact. Practice non-sexual touching and see how much closer you feel in your relationships!
Have your relationships been impacted by touching or lack thereof? Would love to hear all about it in the comments below!