We use our senses of vision and hearing more than we do our sense of touch, but humans may have a very real need for physical touch every day.
Touch is a part of the physical closeness of two people that we cannot achieve at a distance. For this reason, touch gives us the sense of connectedness with people and with our environment.
Children require loving touch in order to develop socially and physically. Depriving a child of loving touch is seen as neglectful.
Psychologist Harry Harlow famously studied baby monkeys who were deprived of both food and the touch of a mother and then had the choice of food or touch. The poor, lonely, baby monkeys chose touch over food. Humans are no different in our need for touch.
The Future of Physical Touch
Technological advances have enabled even people at a distance to experience the touch of a loved one over the internet. This is possible through ‘haptic’ feedback connections. The receiver wears a device that mimics sensations on the skin. When the message sender starts a haptic conversation, the receiver can feel the touch from the sender with the help of the device that they wear.
In the future, you might not need a touchy partner to get your fill of positive feelings from physical touch daily. But until haptic devices become more common, you need to find a willing friend to let you enjoy their physical touch.
5 Reasons You Need to Have Physical Touch Every Day
Here are five compelling reasons why you need to have physical touch every day.
1. You need physical touch every day to communicate
Humans are social beings and touch is a natural part of how we communicate with each other. Touch is usually used to communicate a shared meaning between two people. Think about the last time you put a hand on someone’s arm or shoulder. Were you sharing a joke?
The use of touch communicates a mutual bond over your communication and it usually happens when you use language to mean something other than its intended use. When we use innuendo, tell a white lie, exaggerate or joke around, we use words as a symbol of a different meaning. These are the usual times, other than when we are showing affection, that we use touch.
2. You need physical touch every day to connect you to other people
Our sense of our physical being is what gives us emotions. That tightness in your gut is anxiety, the feeling of chills down your spine that you call fear, etc. The sensations we feel inside and on the surface of our own bodies help us to connect to people and the world around us.
Think about a great date that you might go on. If you spent the entire time smiling and having a great conversation but there was absolutely zero attempts at touching your knee, hand, or more, you would feel pretty certain that they weren’t interested in you because they did not initiate touch. Touch tells us that you like us.
Researchers in the journal Virtual Reality studying the future of human touch say ‘A short touch by another person can elicit strong emotional experiences; from the comforting experience of being touched by one’s spouse to the experience of anxiety when touched by a stranger. Indeed, human touch bears the capacity for very personal and very intimate interpersonal interaction, and can potentially evoke a sense of ”proximity and establish the human connection.”
3. You need physical touch every day to get what you need
Touch is an effective tool to convince people to do what you need them to do. Touch communicates the importance of your words and commands the other person’s attention. You are basically saying ‘Pay very close attention to me right now as you touch someone’s arm and speak to them.