I want to hold your hand.
October 8, 2015 5:58 AM   Subscribe

How do you deal with lack of physical contact as a single person, especially when it's one of your primary love languages?

I think this question (or similar) has been posted here before, but I couldn't find it. Perhaps you can direct me that way, or throw some light of your own on the subject?

I'm a single woman in my 30s and I crave physical contact. I don't know how to fill that need. Possible relevant information:

- I work in a primary school, mainly with the older kids. I do sometimes see the little ones, who want to hold your hand or give you a hug, but not often.
- I have a cat, which does help. She's not super snuggly though.
- My best friend, who is a great emotional support to me, is not affectionate at all. I could ask her outright for a hug, but it seems kind of weird.
- Massages do help.

I am not looking primarily for a sexual relationship (though that would be nice too!) - it's more the day to day contact. I want to sit on a couch and lean against someone, or walk hand in hand down a street, or have a child on my lap, or rest my head on someone's shoulder.

Any ideas?
posted by tworedshoes to Human Relations (19 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Is there any type of dancing you like? Swing and salsa often have large, beginner-friendly communities and classes and no expectation that you bring a partner. Contra dancing too, if there's any where you live!

Do you come across to other people as a "touchy-feely" sort and back off when you sense they're uncomfortable, or are you expecting that other people will initiate physical contact? If it's the latter, working on getting comfortable with acting more affectionate in relationships might be all you need. It's possible your best friend would be happy to hug more or even snuggle up on the couch if that were just part of your personality, even though a flat-out request for a hug would feel weird.
posted by cogitron at 6:29 AM on October 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

And this previous question might be helpful.
posted by cogitron at 6:30 AM on October 8, 2015

Came in to suggest square dancing, adding to cogitron's suggestions. And (from my experience as a straight man), gay clubs tend to both be more huggy and at the same time respectful of physical boundaries than straight clubs, so find a gay square dancing club near you.
posted by straw at 6:34 AM on October 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you go to a beauty parlor and get a shampoo, that's a kind of touching that can feel terrific.
posted by puddledork at 6:53 AM on October 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Have any of your friends started having babies yet? Hogging other people's kids is a great way to model consent to children. Ask permission, respect the kids who decline to be hugged of who don't want to sit on your lap. Enjoy the kids who do want hugs and lap time.

Definitely take some dance classes. The lead follow relationship is all accomplished through touch. And some eye contact. By mostly touch.

The cuddlr app miiiight be something useful for you. Is that even still operating? I suggest it because you seem confident enough to navigate the sexism and boundary issues that you would likely find in such a forum.

I also tell people I meet, "I'm a hugger!" When we begin to navigate that potentially awkward handshake/cheek kissing/hugging limbo of introduction. I usually add 'and it's ok if you're not a hugger," so people hopefully don't feel pressured to have a hug they don't want. And I do have friends that I can say, 'let's snuggle while we watch a movie' and its established that it won't be a sex type snuggle.

So. Maybe more talking with your friends about love languages? I would bet that you know some people already who have this same need that you are expressing. And even if they don't, you can get a chance to learn how your friends will feel loved and appreciated by you!
posted by bilabial at 6:57 AM on October 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

I can vouch for the contra dance suggestion. The dances require physical contact (and are great exercise to boot), and in my experience there's a lot of extraneous flirting that goes along with it. In fact, I met my lovely wife thru contra dancing. If there's a group in your area, give it a whirl.
posted by Gelatin at 7:17 AM on October 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Taking pleasure in other tactile experiences gives me some comfort when I'm all by myself. I like knitting or crocheting with very soft, high quality yarns like alpaca or merino, so when I feel the projects as I'm working on them I get a little thrill of pleasure. Hot baths, luxurious bed linens and plush pillows/duvets are like self-cuddling.
posted by lizbunny at 7:48 AM on October 8, 2015

Boy can I relate! And being a guy in my early forties makes it even harder. Our social views being what they are, I rarely ask children for hugs, even my friend's kids. But, here's what I've found works:

As everyone else has pointed out: Dance! I've covered all the styles above plus some. Find a social/classes group, that is much more rewarding than just bumping around in a club.

Offer hugs! I sometimes just hold my arms out when greeting or saying goodbye to a friend. Sure, it can be awkward and I keep track of who is receptive or not. And if someone just extends a hand they get a shake instead. But I've found with more offering, I get more hugs, and I don't need to associate it so closely with having a super close relationship.

Ask! As noted, it is a little weird, but our friends do like to take care of us. Sometimes I just have to say "Hey, I could really use a hug."

As the weather gets colder I really appreciate a heavy blanked and comforter.

None of this holds a candle to the touch in a good relationship, but it helps.
posted by meinvt at 7:59 AM on October 8, 2015 [4 favorites]

I've heard of people volunteering holding infants in a NICU or snuggling/socializing kittens in an animal shelter.
posted by matildaben at 8:05 AM on October 8, 2015 [5 favorites]

I want to sit on a couch and lean against someone, or walk hand in hand down a street, or have a child on my lap, or rest my head on someone's shoulder.

With the exception of a child on your lap, these are all things you can get from dating. You should try having dates, especially because you say a sexual relationship would be a bonus. Your question doesn't say why dating would not be an option, so if you date you can get a nice boyfriend/girlfriend for leaning and holding hands.
posted by Tanizaki at 9:49 AM on October 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Snuggling kitties in a shelter is definitely a needed volunteer activity. I wish I were less allergic to cats so I could do it (I have my own sometimes-snuggly cat at home, but my allergic reaction intensifies in the dander-filled shelter environment).
posted by serelliya at 2:27 PM on October 8, 2015

Have you considered dating?
posted by hal_c_on at 3:35 PM on October 8, 2015

Have you asked your friend about hugging you? I'm not a very physically affectionate person either, but if a good friend of mine told me they needed a hug, I would totally give them an awesome hug.
posted by slenderloris at 4:26 PM on October 8, 2015

Hi all

Thanks for the ideas so far. The dancing theme is coming through strongly, and not something I had considered, although I'm not sure I'll find any gay square dancing clubs nearby - much as I'd like to!

Yes, open to dating but a few complicating factors (lesbian, Christian, small town) make it a small pool to draw from - and meeting people online, in other cities, means a relationship with everything BUT the touching (at least to begin with).

I could definitely ask my friend (and others) for a hug if needed, but probably not at the frequency I'm craving. When I'm around my extended family (Dutch) there is a lot of hugging and kissing, basically every time you enter or leave a social situation, and I love it. But they are all interstate. Around my immediate family and peers (Australian) it's much more low-key.

I appreciate the feeback so far, thank you.
posted by tworedshoes at 6:49 PM on October 8, 2015

This is not exactly what you're looking for, but I can sometimes get this fix by going to a toy store and petting or holding the stuffed animals. However, going to a pet store or animal shelter would be a much better solution.
posted by bendy at 7:33 PM on October 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Seconding the holding-babies-in-the-hospital idea. I think it's mostly hospitals in big cities that need those types of volunteers. Also, I recently became a volunteer with the SPCA and the process of giving love, support and affection to the animals there has been a very rewarding experience which includes the benefits of lots of loving physical contact.
posted by mulcahy at 9:36 PM on October 8, 2015

Have you/would you consider martial arts? I took a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class last year; that involved a lot of touching. There's a sort of (non-sexual) intimacy to grappling that I was not expecting at all. "Bro-hugs" at the end of the session, too.
posted by bibliotropic at 10:01 PM on October 8, 2015

I find the only things which really help are getting enough sleep and keeping myself busy. That means I don't have too much time to think about it and when I do I'm better able to just accept the craving because I'm not tired. Appreciate this is more avoiding than solving the problem but it's effective for me.
posted by neilb449 at 12:10 AM on October 9, 2015

Get one of these heartbeat pillows.
posted by yohko at 6:29 PM on October 9, 2015

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