‘Touch is ten times stronger than verbal or emotional contact, and it affects damned near everything we do. — We forget that touch is not only basic to our species, but the key to it.’
As a person in a long-distance relationship, this is a claim I can’t really argue with. Touch is something that is highly irreplaceable as it is the most fundamental way to be connected to the surrounding world.
Tiffany Field also talks about ‘touch hunger’. Totally relatable, isn’t it? Have you ever felt a hunger-like craving for physical closeness? I sure have, and sometimes that feeling can be overwhelming. For me, going to bed is the toughest. I am so used to falling asleep next to someone that a good-night text just doesn’t cut it – nor does surrounding myself with pillows to cuddle with. Believe me, I have tried!
I guess I should not be surprised by going through these feelings since we use touch to enhance and share our feelings with others. It also got me thinking, what does this mean in terms of my relationship? Am I doomed to eternal hunger for touch? That doesn’t sound like a nice destiny!
Luckily, the answer is no. As Aaron Ben-Zeév points out in his book Love Online, people in long-distance relationships can develop a strong and profound feeling of mental touching. It is as if you felt the words on the screen physically touch you. This idea gives me comfort – for now at least.
Interested in knowing more about the science behind touch? Gallace, A., & Spence, C. (2010). The science of interpersonal touch: An overview. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 34(2), 246–259. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2008.10.004