There’s no app for this: Babies need touch for survival. All that holding, snuggling, and patting is necessary for life itself. Not only infants need physical affection; adults need it too. Unlike babies we can survive without touching, but none of us truly can thrive without touching.
You might be surprised by how many people are starved for physical contact right now. Are you? When was the last time you experienced a meaningful hug? Or your face was held lovingly in someone’s hands? The need for affection never goes away—it’s as human as your next breath.
Because touching is a basic human need, to go without it causes distress, and when this occurs we use coping strategies to manage this unmet need. A common way of coping is to deny the need for touch altogether. You decide, “I don’t need it.” Or, you send out a signal to others, “Stay away. Don’t touch.”
Sexualizing your need for touch is another coping strategy. Some channel their need for touch through sexual contact; they initiate sex when they really want nurturing. They give themselves permission for touching only when sex is involved. Or, they trade sex for affection: “If I have sex with you then I’ll get touched.”
Then there are those whose hunger for touch is so great they infringe upon others’ personal boundaries. They touch strangers or are too affectionate with acquaintances.
Healthy human touch begins with two consenting individuals with mutual goals of pleasure and respect. With this in mind, you can fulfill your need for touch as well as others’ by reaching out to those you love. Hugging, holding hands, a kiss on the cheek, or a gentle caress can strengthen relationships and broader social circles—and the world needs all the help we can get right now.