I have heard about people craving people needing physical touch so much that I believed that I must crave it too.
I am re-examining that.
The most obvious physical needs I feel are the need for water, food, and sleep. Though there is a lot of variation in how I experience thirst, hunger, and sleep-deprivation, if I go too long without water/food/sleep, I will feel it, and it won’t be subtle.
On the next level, there is my need for exercise. It doesn’t belong in the same category as water/food/sleep – I don’t think a sedentary lifestyle would kill me nearly as quickly as dehydration/starvation/severe sleep deprivation – but it’s clear to me that I really do need a minimal level of exercise, and it’s not something I merely think I need because I’ve been fooled by pro-exercise propaganda.
I have concluded that I don’t have sexual needs, even though lots of people are convinced that everybody needs sex.
So … do I also have a need for physical touch, or was I only convinced I needed physical touch because other people said so?
Well, in Taiwan, when I told myself that I wasn’t getting enough physical contact with people, I decided to remedy this with massages.
When I’m thirsty and I drink water, I experience immediate relief
When I’m hungry and I eat food, I experience immediate relief.
When I’m sleep-deprived and I sleep, the relief isn’t immediate, but it’s evident and refreshing.
When I have been repressing the urge to exercise, and then get to burn off some of that energy, I feel much calmer afterwards.
When I hadn’t been touching people for a while, and then get a massage … I feel nothing.
I’ve repeated this a few times.
I can only think of two explanations:
1) I don’t need physical touch
2) I do need physical touch, but commercial massages do not fulfil this need at all
I am not sure which explanation it is, but I have at least concluded that I don’t need physical touch nearly as much as I need exercise, and that my notion of needing physical touch was, if not totally fabricated, then at least exaggerated by other people claiming that we all need physical touch.
I once thought that I *should* have more physical touch, and since the massages didn’t seem to have much of an effect, that I *should* have more of it in more personal relationships.
Now, when I poke at the evidence that people put forth for ‘physical touch is healthy and you don’t get enough’, I find that the evidence is really flimsy. For example, this blog post says “most people desire or require touch and affection on a regular basis … touch helps keep you healthy and happy. (Don’t believe me? The National Institutes of Health says so)”. Yet the article it links to support the ‘the National Institutes of Health’ claim is about oxytocin and says “few studies look at oxytocin in humans” i.e. we are not entirely sure about the effects of oxytocin. I think that is way overstretching for a claim like ‘The National Institutes of Health says most people require touch on a regular basis’ – especially since the article cannot find any effect on blood pressure or stress hormone levels in men (aren’t men, you know, a large portion of the population?!).
So right now, I say ‘whatever’! If I feel like touching AND receive permission, I’ll do it. If I don’t feel like it or don’t get permission, I won’t. I’m going to stop telling myself that I need more touch just because other people say I need it.
And on that note, I will get back to the topic of asexuality in the next post.