General Question

ShauneP82's avatar

Do you think there would be more acceptance and communication if people would be more open to touch?

Asked by ShauneP82 (790 points ) April 10th, 2009

This thought has come up from a series of questions asked on fluther. None imparticualar I care to mention. But it seems to me that many people would benefit from human contact, not just computers, ipods, and cell phones. I mean we are pack animals for heaven sake. We love sex, kissing, going out and hanging with buddies. But in all that time many many many people will not touch another without fear of what others thing. Something is wrong with that. Should we start touching? Ex: Handshakes, Hugs, Kisses, Dancing etc.

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44 Answers

Zen's avatar

YES!

ShauneP82's avatar

@Zen I guess touch is a taboo. Nobody seems to want to talk about it.

lukiarobecheck's avatar

Yes, I will agree that we as a society we are becoming more dependent on our personal devices. I will included myself in that group. However, I am also trying to be more physical in my approach to the people close to me. Whenever I am hanging out with my girlfriend I will give her back rubs when we are watching TV or different things like that. I know she likes it which makes me happy, and it keeps that physical closeness between us going. I do that with my family too. We are also big huggers, in my family.
With strangers, or more people at work I can see the need to be more open to touch. Handshakes, pats on the back. I think it would ease any tension that builds up over the day. It is just so hard to come out of your shell, and do those types of things if you are not used to doing it in the first place. Plus everyone has there own personal space, and you try to respect that.

ShauneP82's avatar

Well I ready to come out of the box hugs for all!!!.

Zen's avatar

I think most people are asleep. They’ll comment later.

Harp's avatar

I do think it would help, yes. Unfortunately, we (Americans) seem to be moving in the direction of avoiding face-to-face contact wherever possible, much less actually touching.

When I’m in France, I’m always struck by how much more personal contact there is. Someone arriving at his workplace makes the rounds shaking everyone’s hand (if not actually doing the cheek-kiss routine). Public transportation frequently mashes complete strangers together. Anyone you’re on more than professional terms with seems to get the full 4 kiss treatment.

ShauneP82's avatar

@Harp Well lets get back to it. Who care wher Americans are going. Let stop the trend and make a full reversal.

Zen's avatar

In Holland they kiss you three times. In Arab countries, men often make love with male strangers right there in the street, greeting them profusely, over and over again politely.

GAMBIT's avatar

I think there is a lot to be said about shaking hands. A man’s handshake use to be his bond. We didn’t need pages on pages of contracts. We trusted someone if we “shook on it” Handshakes also where used as a typical greeting of two strangers once introduced.

In my own family I can not see my mother, grandmother or sister without a hug and kiss hello and a hug and kiss goodbye. It would be unthinkable not to do this when we visit.

wundayatta's avatar

I dunno. In theory, this is a good idea, but I don’t really want to hug anyone I don’t really know. Sometimes I’m uncomfortable hugging people I know well. It’s just not something I can do unless I’m feeling pretty good about both them and myself. Kissing is even more reserved. Mostly, it’s only my wife. Occasionally, if there’s another really touchy-feely woman, I’ll do it, but I won’t be terribly comfortable. I’ll feel pretty self-conscious.

On the other hand, when dancing, I have no problem with it. I mean, that’s what contact improv and related forms are all about. Still, even though I really love dancing, I generally chose to be a musician. In music, the touch is quite intense, but it can be done without physically touching.

casheroo's avatar

I’m not a big hugger or kisser, even with my own husband. I do touch a lot when I talk to people don’t, and have to make a conscious effort NOT to touch, when I talk to strangers. I tend to touch arms, or hands, or shoulders..usually in a familiar way, just a little touch when something funny is being told I think. I don’t see the need to hug and kiss people though.

cak's avatar

I’m that person that doesn’t want to be overly touched. I communicate and express love. I also show and accept a full range of emotions. I just don’t like people that are too touchy. It’s annoying. I really hate people that invade my space. I might consider chomping on a person if they get too close. Okay, so maybe not – that would require touching them.

I have a friend that laughs about how non-touchy I really can be. She comments on how cold I might appear to some, but how warmhearted I truly am. Sometimes, when I do that random touch of someone’s arm, I wind up getting teased, because I am so hands off.

I do show love and affection towards my family. It’s really not an issue – unless my joints are really sore (arthritis) and we’ve come up with a fun way of air hugging. (the kids and I)

elijah's avatar

@cak well said, I completely agree. I really dislike people touching me. It makes me uncomfortable. I don’t mind a handshake or a hug hello, but I don’t want people touching me during conversation.

ShauneP82's avatar

Thats what I am talking about guys! How did you get to this point in life in terms of touching? Really I would like to know. ~I myself am a touch whore.~ I love to be touched.

elijah's avatar

But you are assuming that because you enjoy it, everyone should. Strangers touching me shuts down my ability to enjoy the conversation. I communicate much better when I don’t feel like my personal space is being invaded.

ShauneP82's avatar

I assume nothing. I just want to know when you determined touch was not you bag baby!!! : )

WifeOfBath's avatar

I want to hug, kiss, dance and love everyone I see. But what I see is grumpy people who think that the world owes them something…..
I just want to love you and want to be loved.We all want that, don’t we…
When I smile at you it`s because I am happy smile back at me and we become friends for when we meet again we will nod and smile and so we become friends, people who share warmth, for warmth outwardly keeps you happy inwardly…:)

GAMBIT's avatar

@WifeOfBath – This is how my grandmother is and everyone she meets falls in love with her.

VS's avatar

You must not have been raised in the South. We are huggers and kissers of the worst ilk. We tend to hug people we have just met. And phamilies? Forget that. If you are visiting from out of town (more than 30 minutes away!), you better get an hour’s headstart because it will take long for everyone to hug and kiss and then hug and kiss again before you can actually leave. I have always been a touchy, feely kinda girl. I came of age in the 60s and we hugged and kissed, wore flowers in our hair, and love was free. Ahhh, the days of “make love, not war”...

funky_princess's avatar

I always touch and hug my friends, to say hi and bye i give them a hug, i dont really worry what the other person is thinking, if it is with a friend then they know im tactile and if its some1 i dont know that well, they soon learn im jus very tactile, maybe a little too tactile!

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I think many people suffer from ‘skin hunger’, which is what I call the apparent need to be touched and comforted. In today’s world, however, touching anyone can be considered assault, and people are so goddamn sue-happy that you take great financial risk when you try to make that bond through touch. I’ve seen people hug kids and have others say something to the effect of it bordering on sexual abuse. It’s just a hug, and there was no untoward actions in it. You can see that, but some folks perceive predators behind every tree. People are so fucking paranoid about simple personal contact nowadays that it makes me wonder what things will be like in twenty years. Will we all be in plastic bubbles, like hamsters?

My female co-workers hug me on occasion, (we are all in the same age group) and one even teasingly calls me ‘lover boy’ or ‘sweetie’ and it doesn’t mean anything, it is simply a friendly term of affection. Of course, both of them are in stable relationships, I am in a stable relationship, and we know enough about each other that a hug or a gentle term of endearment dosn’t mean anything ellicit at all. We are friends, and co-workers, and we look out for each other because that’s how it is with security entrance officers. There is a difference between inside security and outside security personel, and our lack of a decent supervisor made it that way. But that explanation would be off-topic, so I’ll leave it for some other time.

Sometimes I get nervous when younger (under 30) folks try to hug me, but that’s because I have a harder time understanding the younger generation. But I’ve never been known to turn down a hug, because I understand touch is an important part of being alive and showing you have compassion and understanding for others.

online hugs however, strike me as just silly. Getting an online hug makes as much sense to me as getting a haircut over the phone.

ShauneP82's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra Sadly at this point, the online hug is what I have to work with. Hugggggggg. lol.

I do agree that the world is Hug hungry and also sue crazy. I have decided though that this should not stop human interaction and most of all contact. If I get thrown in jail for a loving act that has no malice attached, then I will go happily knowing I stood up for something as beautiful as love and effection.

~Man I never get this mushy sheesh. I think I stumbled on a great minstry.~

ronski's avatar

I think it would be a better world, that if in our social circles, people were more open to touch. I’ve talked about this with a couple of friends, but in reality I think it is natural to want to sleep next to someone, to want to cuddle close with someone. I think we would all be a little bit more touchy-feely with one another if it were more acceptable. I know that I would love to cuddle with my friends more often, but that may make a series of people uncomfortable, like my boyfriend, so instead I lay off.

It definitely seems more acceptable for women to be touchy-feely with one another than for men in the US. Anyway, we our very constricted by our views on relationships and love, so we can only love one person and only love in one way. I don’t like it at all.

As for the work environment, it might be nice to touch one another a little bit, but awkward at the same time. This may lead us to decreasing social values in general. The more work becomes less comfortable for people, the less we touch. The more family values declines, the less we touch. Just last night, my boyfriend and I were talking about how families do not have the same backbone that they seemed to for our parents. (At least that’s how we feel about ours :(

ShauneP82's avatar

@ronski I agree. Family values and strength is considerably weak at best, these days. But I feel a revival coming on! : D

Zen's avatar

@ShauneP82 Touch whore…classic

ShauneP82's avatar

@Zen Yeah, thats what my wife calls me.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Let me tell you I have seen a big change in my own life when it comes to this.
I come from a family of non-touchers. I never thought it was odd or weird at all.
In high school they did this hugging excercise where half the group closed their eyes and the other half went around and gave random hugs. I was so moved by this. I don’t know I had ever been touched that much.
I married into a family of touchers. Huggers actually. And at first it was quite odd for me. In fact it sometimes still is. I don’t know who to hug and when. But they hug all the time. And most of our friends come from his family connections (he has a huge family) so we end up hugging them as well. Now I live in an atmosphere of hugs all the time. Hugs always to say hello and often to say goodbye. And whatever reason in between.
Guess what? I love it!! It is fantastic and has really opened me up to the power of touch.
Having said that I still can’t move myself into the direction of PDA. I don’t feel comfortable kissing etc.. in public. A short hug, brief peck of a kiss, or holding hands is okay. And I am still not a snuggler, it must have just settled into me from my family environment.
But I really do think that touch has power. I have seen it in my own personal life. And I do think we would benefit from it. Even those of us who aren’t snugglers, or PDA ers. lol.

ShauneP82's avatar

@RedPowerLady I think it is possible that the taboo of PDA comes from those that are offended’s longing for touch themselves, even thought they may not know it.

Bluefreedom's avatar

Much of it would be dependent on how much someone is receptive to touch in the first place right? The hard part is probably not knowing if they are comfortable with being touched and how to even approach working that into part of your communication process.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@ShauneP82 I think you are probably right about that.

YARNLADY's avatar

Yes, I do.

cak's avatar

@ShauneP82 – Part of mine is from my family. We are very loving, but as fair as touchy feely, no, wee are far from that – again, it doesn’t mean we aren’t affectionate. I think some has to do with just how I am. I have been through enough to close me off to people, but thankfully, I’ve been balanced with enough to want me to open back up to people.

I have traveled in other countries and will say that there are moments when I have cringed when a very friendly person has been very kind and very touchy. I would never be rude, but I have been told if you look at my eyes, it’s there. The don’t touch me look. I try, really. It’s just not me.

I can tell when someone needs a hug, I can show affection, when it really is needed. I’m just not that person that is going to hug you each time I see you or touchy. I do believe some of it is learned behavior, but some is just a defense mechanism.

3or4monsters's avatar

Touch is integral to our survival. We need it to survive. We convince ourselves and our bodies to survive just fine without very much touch during the strength of our youth and adulthood, but to see where it benefits us the most, we must look at the effects of nurturing touch on those that are immune suppressed or have weak immunity.

Look at the studies done on the positive health effects of nurturing massage on infants (ignore the first listed study, as it’s the only one on non-humans) and the elderly, as well as the terminally ill and the suffering. When we are unhappy or hurting or sick, we wanted to be nurtured and cared for by another. I believe this to be an evolutionary survival trait to crave touch.

I came from a no-touch no-hugging family, and dove headfirst into massage school (the input I got from the family is “how can you stand to touch so many people?”). I resisted and fought and disliked being touched by strangers for so long, but I couldn’t ignore the effects I was having on others and the changes I was making in their health and their lives. I couldn’t ignore how healthy touching other people made me. The difference was noticeable.

To wrap it up… people spilled their lives out to me while I rubbed out their tension. I said nothing and listened, just absorbed it all. People would weep on my table because I was a safe stranger. The combination of nurturing touch and being an unbiased listener who actually gave a shit about this stranger is what people paid me for. I provided something in their lives that they couldn’t find in their friends and loved ones because we are raised in a society who thinks touching—> intimacy—>sex, when sometimes all we need is somebody who gives a shit, who will hold them, who doesn’t want to get in their pants or want something from them, or has an ulterior motive.

Ok, to try to sum up a second time… sometimes the best thing we can do for the well-being of our fellow humans, is shut the fuck up, hold a hand, and listen.

Zen's avatar

@ShauneP82 is a great person, imho, I “felt” it straight off. Touch whore or hug-monster, he’s spot on about the need for more closeness and touch, ironic though it is here.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

There are so many Great Answers here that I think I now have a callous on my finger from clicking the mouse.

Zen's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra Let me rub that callous and put some aloe vera on it, dear.

3or4monsters's avatar

@ShauneP82 thank you very much for asking this question. This issue is pretty important to me.

ShauneP82's avatar

@3or4monsters It was my pleasure. I am glad to see somebody else likes hugs as much as me. : D

MissAnthrope's avatar

I find this question/topic very interesting. I think it has a lot to do with culture and in the U.S., we’re on average a bit weird about touching. We are a lot more reserved in this regard than Europeans and I find it a little sad. I have lived in France and Italy, where touching is commonplace and totally normal for all gender combinations.

In Italy, my mom has lived in a small village for 11 years, so I’m acquainted with the residents and have friends and family there. On any given day, I can expect to be kissed, hugged, have my face touched, be caressed, have an arm put around me, etc. In a way, I love this about the Italians and, actually, I think it makes them a happier people with incredibly strong relationship bonds.

However, my family was not overly touchy-feely when I was growing up, and I’m not super touchy-feely now. I’m aware that other people may dislike touching and I would never want to offend anyone, and I don’t really like it when strangers touch me… I have to have a developed relationship with someone to feel comfortable about touching. I am a pretty reserved person, so it’s a complex mix of discomfort at the intrusion on my personal space and not wanting to invade anyone else’s.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@Zen Hmm, I’m not real used to another guy calling me dear, but sure. :::holds out finger:::

Zen's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra Sorry, sweetie, it’s a habit ofmine, and no reflection on your “masculinity.”

jackfright's avatar

no, i dont. if it’s a stranger, it’s a surefire way of asking for trouble with me.
(if you’ll excuse the horrible pun) i’m quite touchy about it.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Yes. In some families, touch is really regulated and not looked down on but held back as something very private, intimate and not to be given except for serious moments. Outside of that and obviously intruding on a strange’rs personal space, I say to go for it. In the business I work, it’s really common and there’s not much behind it for people to to grab each other’s hands for a quick squeeze, high five, knuckle bump, shoulder bump, one arm shoulder wrap/squeeze. You’d think we’re much like footballers who pat each other on the rumps so much but it’s our language of support and recognition throughout the day. Ours is a stressful business where emotions run the gammut in engaging strangers and I really believe the touching keeps everyone on board, a feeling like the customer didn’t up and suck your soul with them out the door.

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