How can a somewhat solitary guy meet a need for hugs and human contact?
December 19, 2008 12:25 PM   Subscribe

How can a somewhat solitary guy meet a need for hugs and human contact?

Hi. I'm a 30's guy. Like a lot people on here I'm sure, I think I have autistic or geeky tendencies. I like spending time alone working on my own projects, learning things and am not really attracted to social scenes. I spent my late teens and twenties trying to do clubbing and meeting people, and it's just not really me. I'm not particularly into any traditional geek pasttimes either.

Funnily enough, I can sometimes pass for normal particularly with women. I look alright and the girls seem to like me, and when i've tried the flirting game I've got a lot of interest.

Where's this going? Well I have intense physical longing for hugs and intimacy, but I don't have any female friends (I hug my male friends on the odd occasion, but it's not the same kind of emotional connection), but I don't necessarily want or click with any 'meeting people' scenes. Having this kind of underlying need can also be counterproductive, although I don't act needy.

I really feel the need for a close, huggy kind of friendship with a gal, but I'm just not on a lot of people's wavelength, and it feels wrong to develop close friendships when I might not want to keep spending time with someone.

This need has led me into some stupid and or dark places, paying for sex, sleeping with people I don't want to, or leading girls on to get attention from them.

It seems weird to try and address this as a need that needs to be met, as after all you want to hug a person that you like not just someone that happens to be there. However, I experience this need somewhat seperately from the need some people have to be social or meet new people, which makes it difficult.

So I hope you understand my rambling and I'm grateful for any suggestions for how to make myself feel better.

My email is in case you need it.

To anticipate some possible answers, I have done lots of therapies and made a lot progress in myself, but I don't feel this can be 'cured' by therapy and also, I've seen the threads on 'how to meet people' etc, but feel my problem comes a bit before that stage.

posted by anonymous to Human Relations (13 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
posted by FunkyHelix at 12:41 PM on December 19, 2008

Massage (legit or otherwise).
posted by orthogonality at 12:56 PM on December 19, 2008

Formerly and formerly.
posted by WCityMike at 1:11 PM on December 19, 2008

I'd say try dating sites. They're not just about traditional dating; many of them have an option where you can specify that you're looking for friendship. State clearly in your profile what it is you're looking for, and I would bet that you'll find no shortage of women who have needs that are compatible with yours.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:12 PM on December 19, 2008

"it feels wrong to develop close friendships when I might not want to keep spending time with someone."

This is a very wrong-headed attitude. The progression of friendship and your views on whether a person is worth spending time with should go together. As you get to know someone, you will develop an opinion on whether you want to know them better.

What you said there makes it sound as though getting to know people means making a serious upfront commitment. It doesn't have to be like that at all.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:21 PM on December 19, 2008

You've already taken an incredibly important step in realizing you are touch-deprived and differentiating what you need (physical affection) from what is offered in traditional friendship.

If this were not a societal problem of epidemic proportions, there would be countless responses to your post about where to be hugged and held.

“The impersonality of life in the Western world has become such that we have produced a race of untouchables. We have become strangers to each other, not only avoiding, but even warding off all forms of ‘unnecessary’ physical contact, faceless figures in a crowded landscape, lonely and afraid of intimacy” -- Ashley Montagu

Can you mingle with others from cultures wherein physical touch is more acceptable? Can you frequent social gatherings that draw women who are not physically inhibited? (Certain hands-on professions such a nursing draw such personalities).

Your problem is shared by many who will eagerly read these posts, searching for the same answers you seek.
posted by terranova at 3:29 PM on December 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

a) Massage (you could get really cheap 15 minute massages once a week)

b) Consider the need for touch in terms of the need for socialisation/companionship.
The reason why they are so often together, is because usually people need a level of trust, to feel comfortable being in close physical contact with someone. Trust is established through communication, and sharing of emotional states.

I've seen the problem several times, that with one very 'open', sharing person & one uncommunicative, closed-off person, the closed-off person soon feels they 'know' enough about the open person to feel comfortable and trust them. And they don't realise that this is because the open person has been communicative and sharing with them - but in response, the 'open' person still doesn't know that much about the 'closed-off' person, and may feel nervous or wary about being in really close contact.

Imagine you were with someone larger, stronger, and possibly vaguely threatening, or with largely unknown motivations - how would they have to relate to you for you to feel really comfortable with them? With cuddling them?
See if you can work out how you could establish that trust - usually, communication, and verbalised expression of emotional states, lets you get a picture of 'what they are like'.

You have a need, work out what you need to do, to meet it. Also, are you sure it needs to be a girl? Why? Examine what your motivations are there. You may be actually wanting a more significant relationship with a girl, but are scared, and wanting to go for the 'safer' option. See if you can work through that. Otherwise, social circles in which the guys are huggy, also tend to have huggy girls.
posted by Elysum at 4:13 PM on December 19, 2008

This might sound crazy but just let me lay it out for you.

Swing dancing or Lindy Hop.

Go check out a few clubs. It's not goofy the way ballroom is. You move to the rhythm of some of the best music ever made. The girls there are always happy to see new guys because there are never enough to go around. Most evenings start with a beginner lesson and nobody expects you to do more than try. Some of the worst dancers starting out end up being fantastic if they keep at it for a year or so. Your autistic side will enjoy the challenge of learning the movements. In the classes I've been to, they switch partners every few minutes during the lessons, so the awkwardness of meeting new partners wears off quickly. You get to touch and handle and jump around with women who came there for that single purpose. People chat but it's not a meat market and they don't often quiz one and other about their jobs. Everybody's there to dance and rarely turn down an invitation to do so. You end up learning a valuable skill and work up some endorphins. You get to interact with women without the baggage of romantic expectations. It might take the edge off of being alone. As long as you're friendly and respectful, you can do all the hugging you want.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:07 PM on December 19, 2008 [2 favorites]

I agree with the swing dancing!! I think about this issue pretty often too - if you're single and live alone and don't have a lot of huggy friends, it gets pretty hard to live without ANY physical contact for years, and it sucks.

I took swing dancing lessons for that reason, and also hoping to meet people. Didn't meet anyone (everyone in the classes was older or came as a couple), but I LOVE swing dancing now, and you do get to hold people and hold their hand while dancing. And it is surprisingly easy - any uncoordinated guy can do it too.

Cuddle parties were also the first thing that came to mind, just because I'm heard of them, but it seems like that'd be awfully awkward, no?
posted by KateHasQuestions at 6:31 PM on December 19, 2008

I third massage. I'm the same way you are - I just NEED to be touched and hugged way more than I am. Massage really helps - even if it's a light or short one.

Cuddle parties do seem awkward to me. Then again, I'm me and you're you.
posted by damnjezebel at 6:21 PM on December 20, 2008

you dont mention where you stand with sex. are you uninterested in sex? physical affection usually comes with or leads to sex. this doesnt have to be the case, but it just so happens that when you're sleeping with someone you trust them and then you feel affection for them and want to touch them a lot.

but im sure theres plenty of women who would be into the physical affection without the sex. women generally love non sexual affection more than men (from my experience as a woman). that is not to say women dont love sex too. though i know some women who love affection but are uninterested in sex.
posted by beccyjoe at 11:54 PM on December 20, 2008

I HEART SWING DANCING! Even if all you do is learn a few basics it's a great way to get into the 'swing' of things (pun woefully unintended). Salsa, rhumba, jitterbug, waltz, ballroom, etc. etc. - the list goes on and on in case swing isn't your thing. Find your closest ballroom dance studio (Arthur Murray is a popular franchise, though hardly the only one out there) and give them a call.

I'm reminded of the old theory that 'like attracts like'. If you really are autistic / Asperger's / just plain geeky, find the other people (of the opposite gender) that do the same thing.
posted by chrisinseoul at 6:37 AM on December 21, 2008

Anon, Dancing is a great way to have touch & community. International folk dancing has less couple dancing, if that's difficult for you. Men are always welcome at dance classes. Or get involved in a left-y or new age-y group. They hug a lot. Volunteer at an animal shelter for some unconditional love from dogs.
posted by theora55 at 3:29 PM on December 21, 2008

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