Dancing cheek to cheek....
March 16, 2020 5:36 PM   Subscribe

Covid filter: while I am an introvert I have realized it has been 10 days since I have had any interaction with humans other than a store clerk. I am single, I live alone , I have two cats. My country is on lockdown. And I realized this evening that this will continue.,

And I don’t date or have casual sex but I did get weekly physio/deep tissue massages, mani/pedis, other stuff with casual normal physical contact. The country where I am regularly hugs and cheek kisses for greetings, so I had enough physical contact with humans that worked for me. I go out dancing sometimes and that’s always fun. However I just realized this is likely to go on for several more weeks and it’s making me feel uneasy. When will it be safe to touch someone?

This is truly the first thing that has me anxious existentially. Everything else is waiting and logistics (I have a country move planned but the date is open to account for changing situation, doesn’t affect my remote job.)

I talk frequently to friends and colleagues via text, slack, FaceTime. I am setting up some virtual game nights. I’m doing those suggested things.

I’m also afraid I will become a sobbing mess for first time I can touch someone. Literally no one else I am friends with in real life is alone right now. Just me. I thought I would be ok until I realized this goes on for two more weeks per the govt.

When is it safe to platonically friendly touch someone again? How can I trust they have been isolated for 14 days as per rules? When I know many haven’t.

I don’t mean this to sound frantic but today was the day the introvert joke tweets stopped being something I chuckle at and started showing me cold reality.

I have a theragun so I still get the massage. Please don’t suggest masturbation, it’s not something I really find comfort or pleasure in.

I’m already a very hesitant person on touch so the small bits are so apparent right now. What do I do? I’m scared we won’t go back to the casual affection that got me through the days. Even if we do, it seems weeks, months away.
posted by affectionateborg to Human Relations (17 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
A bath can help replicate aspects of a hug (pressure from the water and warmth). That might be a more immediate option
posted by raccoon409 at 5:45 PM on March 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

Can you order a weighted blanket? That also would replicate the pressure you get from a hug.

That's all I got though.
posted by kathrynm at 5:48 PM on March 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Just to clarify. Shower only no bath. Already have blessed weighted blanket. Both lovely ideas tho!

I really just want to know when I can touch people again.

Heading to bed. Thank you for swift replies.
posted by affectionateborg at 5:53 PM on March 16, 2020

Can't tell you when you will be able to hug someone. Maybe some people will be willing to risk it soon. Casual hugging in hazmat suits.

Can you surround yourself with pillows? I know you have the weighted blanket but if you add pillows to your front and back it might give you a snuggled/cuddled feeling. I have body pillows and will pull them against my back and hug one from the front. I'm not a touchy person (i thought). I have cats and they taught me about affection. I give them little massages and inspect them for bumps and stuff. It's therapeutic for me. They get right on top of me to make biscuits at night too.
posted by mokeydraws at 7:16 PM on March 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

I don't think any of us can give you a number. It'll depend somewhat on your own risk and exposure, and the risk and exposure of those around you. But people absolutely will return to touching and hugging. We all need it and you're not the only one missing it. I very much want a hug right now - to the point that I'm seriously considering sneaking a pet into my apartment just for the cuddles. I'm sorry I don't have better information for you.

But here's a virtual hug from me, if you'll accept: ****hug****
posted by bunderful at 7:35 PM on March 16, 2020 [7 favorites]

Maybe watching ASMR videos on YouTube might help? Even if you are not one to get the tingles they are very soothing a lot them mimic/roleplay the feeling of getting cared for. Memail me if you want specific suggestions.

I am so sorry you are feeling alone. This is a very isolating and scary time, another virtual hug from me.
posted by arha at 7:52 PM on March 16, 2020 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I am so sorry that you are going through this. I’m married now, but I have through long periods without touch before, and it can feel awful and overwhelming. It’s okay to be afraid. I am.

First, know that there are others out there. Spend time online or by phone or mail or however you can. It’ll help. Comfort yourself physically; be warm and cozy. Use your weighted blanket.

I recommend mindful meditation if you are comfortable with that. I listened to this one last night, lights dimmed, and it helped tremendously. There was, for me, a very physical sensation akin to touch. It may help you calm yourself and know yourself a bit better.

When I was alone, I was not a good roommate to myself. I thought of myself unkindly, and carried a negativity all around me. It made my days and nights worse for sure. Be kind to yourself ; be a good roommate.

This too shall pass. I have no idea how long it will take, honestly, but it will. Be brave. You will find your way through this, and you will touch and be touched in return. And don't worry about crying when it comes. I am sure that you would not be the only one who does. I know I probably will.
posted by skookumsaurus rex at 7:54 PM on March 16, 2020 [6 favorites]

It's not the same, but are your cats affectionate? I snug the crap out of mine and it fills more of a hole in the heart than you might guess.
posted by ktkt at 8:09 PM on March 16, 2020 [5 favorites]

Would something like the Wuhan foot shake help? Or the elbow bump? I can't tell you when skin to skin contact will be considered advisable again (I don't even think epidemiologists can), it may be another month or less or more. But perhaps watching how Chinese people brought humor to the quarantine - like this inflatable giraffe costume as protective gear - may help make things feel less lonely.
posted by spamandkimchi at 10:16 PM on March 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Actual article on how long it might last (Washington Post). No answer but probably at least through the summer...or the next 18 months...depends on how the outbreak goes + if you don't get reinfected + how long will it take to get a vaccine?

I feel ya. Same problem here. I have a lot of pillows.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:49 PM on March 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Aw! This sounds so lonely. I understand the existential aspect.

This might sound stupid, but I seriously suggest that you.... give yourself a hug. Or hold your own hand. What! Weird, but apparently it also releases oxytocin! Any of the Yoga with Adriene videos about Self-Love usually have some aspect of this. For example "Home Day 7" ... You can see from the comment section that even though it seems hokey and "not the same", it can be incredibly powerful to give YOURSELF loving physical touch (and not just in a sexual way if that is too much!)

Also on Youtube, Rachel Richards has great self-massage videos, it was a big aha moment for me that I could just take some time and give myself a head rub for no reason except to be nice to myself (sadly enough). That, combined with other ways of being intentionally gentle to my senses (good tea, soft blanket, chill music) helped a lot when I had no physical contact with anyone but myself.
posted by athirstforsalt at 12:03 AM on March 17, 2020 [11 favorites]


For me, tucking myself into bed helped. Especially covering my arms.
Can you arrange a nightly text exchange or even a good night text with a friend?
posted by M. at 10:34 AM on March 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: i've given a lot of favorites and honestly i guess there is no answer because we just don't know.

this stuck out to me:
Be kind to yourself ; be a good roommate

I also don't have my cleaning lady right now who is basically like a mom and does my laundry too (i tried to stop her but she is literally a professional mom and you can't stop her).

Just doing small tidying has been making me feel better. I had a virtual game night with some friends and that helped.

I'm glad i'm not the only one feeling this. I am hugging the heck out of my cats. Thank you everyone for making me feel less alone in my loneliness.

I'm gonna have to rethink how I think about affection - and I think we all in the world as well are but for a different reason.
posted by affectionateborg at 2:41 PM on March 17, 2020 [4 favorites]

YUP. This one just hit me tonight, looking at my roommate and her boyfriend snuggling on the sofa, while another friend texted me photos of the homemade pizzas he made with his girlfriend. I got SUPER lonely and tearful for a sec, especially considering how long this might go on. Then I got a bit panicky. I have no solutions, just commiseration. I have my weighted blanket and heating pad, but...
posted by gold bridges at 7:47 PM on March 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

I told my coworker as we left for good today (I talked her into having her boyfriend SIP with her for the duration) that she needs to get laid for the rest of us.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:56 PM on March 17, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I can relate to this as I have reckoned with loneliness and lack of touch in the wake of my divorce, finalized a few years ago. Since the suggestions about treating yourself kindly and as a good roommate spoke to you, I thought I'd share about what helped me, along those lines.

What really made the difference was to take the mindset that the only person who's guaranteed to be here for me, is me--and I can choose to make my life the way I want it to be. Indeed that I can treat myself the way I would like to be treated by a friend or an intimate partner. If I want kindness in my life, I treat myself kindly. If I would like to be cared for, I prioritize and put effort into taking care of myself. That includes physical self care (exercise, diet, oral hygiene, etc.), and also taking care of my home and making it a place I enjoy to be. Also, feeding my soul by cultivating appreciation--appreciation of mundane things (a beautiful day, how nice it is to wear warm socks, etc.) and also prioritizing doing things that I really appreciate (connecting with the people I care about, enjoying art and music, making art and music.)

In this isolating time, some of the very last things need to be done with some intermediation, but it's still possible to talk on the phone, or connect through video conferencing, and there is SO much amazing art and music art there that you can be inspired for just about forever. But I really think that the mindset is key, and that's fully within your control.

I note that this doesn't address the yearning for human touch. I relate to that as well--the usual ways I get that need filled (hugging friends, partner dancing, professional massage) are out of bounds for a while. But I find that the desire for touch is pretty closely bound up with the sense of loneliness--I read it as a cue to shore up that self-love, that it's a signal to show myself some compassion, and that helps a lot. Maybe it'll help you too.

Hang in there, friend.
posted by Sublimity at 5:10 AM on March 18, 2020 [7 favorites]

You said shower only and I'm not sure of your laundry resources but a wet towel pulled tightly around ones self in the shower can also feel nice. The thicker the towel the more "heft" to the feeling.

Fresh flowers while have nothing to do with human touch also make me feel better.

Be kind to yourself and best wishes.
posted by raccoon409 at 8:23 AM on March 18, 2020

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