My husband, our three children, and I have all been trapped under the same roof for 49 days. You’d think that if Physical Touch was my love language, all of my needs would be met because people are around me 24/7 that can’t leave, but you’d be wrong.
I miss all of the other people I might touch or show affection for too.
When my friends and I see each other, we give each other tight embraces, link arms as we cross the street, squish next to each other in restaurant booths. Virtual eye contact may make up for in-person meetings, but there’s no substitute for virtual touch (though the argument could be made that they should create a machine similar to the one from Demolition Man, if it could be used platonically too).
I miss being touched by strangers even. Feeling my stylist run her fingers through my hair as she shampooed it and pulling the strands to cut them. The nail clinician as she filed, clipped, and painted my nails, and then massaged my hands and forearms.
I miss even the briefest of touches, like when a server would hand me my plate and our hands might brush, or when I might go to move around someone in a crowd and our arms would bump.
It’s scary too to suddenly have touch, my dominant love language, be imbued with sinister potential. Shortly after the stay-at-home order in my area was announced, I went through the Starbucks drive-thru as my last “hurrah.” The barista’s fingers brushed mine when she handed me my coffee, and instead of it being a minor, forgettable incident, I freaked out a little internally and immediately sanitized my hands.
For someone who is used to feeling my way in this world, it feels damn lonely not having a world I can do that in anymore. I cuddle and hug my husband and children plenty. When we take walks, I close my eyes and enjoy the feel of my son’s or daughter’s small hands in mine, but I miss the rest of the world too.
Kris Gage has already written brilliantly about the loneliness of Physical Touch even when we aren’t being told to stay six feet away from others, but now things are even worse. How does someone with Physical Touch needs get them met during this time, especially if they are living alone?
Here are some ideas:
I didn’t exercise much before, but lately, I’ve found it enjoyable to do things physical.
I take walks nearly every day, and I recently added a daily yoga practice. Exercise can help you be present within your body.
2. Touch yourself.
There are many ways you can touch yourself that you might forget if someone isn’t doing it for you.
You can massage your scalp, face, neck, hands, legs, or feet, spending time on any area that feels good to you. You can play with your hair or wrap your arms around yourself when you feel like you want a hug.
I’ve written before that the Physical Touch most people crave isn’t just sexual, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give yourself some loving. Sales of sex toys spiked following the lockdown orders, and that’s not surprising. If you haven’t already, think about purchasing something new or taking advantage of one you already have.
Isolation can be a time for you to explore what you enjoy, whether it be in buying a new toy or trying something new. You could use your toy with your partner if you are quarantining together or separately. It can be something you bring in to either make it seem like your partner is present or to enhance what you already have.
4. Find something to cuddle.
There’s a reason why children clutch loveys when their mommy or daddy isn’t around: they make them feel comfortable and secure. Often when introducing them to your child, it’s best for you to “wear” the lovey for an hour, so it smells like you and they associate it with you.
When my husband travels, he leaves a t-shirt for me sprayed with his cologne that I sleep with. It may sound ridiculous, but it’s what I hold onto to help me fall asleep when he’s absent from our bed. If you’re missing someone — whether a real someone or an imagined someone — cuddle a pillow, stuffed animal, blanket, or item of clothing.
5. Set up times to speak with the ones you love.
While seeing your friend, family member, or lover on Zoom or FaceTime won’t make up for the fact that they are physically absent, still make sure to take that time to connect. The sight and sound of them will recreate some of the experience of being around them and can help you feel less lonely.
Society has changed drastically, and the future is still uncertain. This is a time to practice plenty of self-care while also being creative. If Physical Touch is your love language, don’t think you’ll just have to be neglected during this time, especially if you’re alone. Recognize that your needs are legitimate, and try something new.
Previously published on psiloveyou.xyz.
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