How do I deal with being touch starved?

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Jay27
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How do I deal with being touch starved?

Unread post by Jay27 »

Before my gf went abroad, we used to hold hands, hug, and cuddle really often. I miss that physical touch a lot. I hug my friends sometimes but it’s just for a couple seconds saying hi or bye and it’s not the same. Any advice to help me deal with this until she gets back?
Heather
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Re: How do I deal with being touch starved?

Unread post by Heather »

Hello again. :)

I think there are a bunch of different ways to experience touch when a central person we usually have that with is, literally, out of reach. I'm just going to toss a bunch at you to see if any of them feel like a fit!

You can:
• ask friends for more touch than they're giving -- that can be giving or asking for a longer hug, asking if you can hold their hand, asking if they want to cuddle
• experience touch with animals: either via a pet or by visiting or volunteering at a shelter or rescue
• schedule a massage or other kinds of therapeutic touch (if budget is an issue, you can look into if there is a massage teaching school near you, sometimes you can get massage very inexpensively via students)
• see if touch with nature -- plants, earth, sea, etc. -- fills your cup at all in this way
• engage in therapeutic touch with yourself: masturbation isn't the only way we can touch ourselves to answer wants or needs, we can also do it nonsexually
• use dating apps to seek out physically affectionate, but nonsexual friendships by making clear that is expressly what you are looking for(I'd personally stick to queer/ENM apps for this)
• on that note, pretty sure you've said in this past this doesn't fit your wants, but in case I'm not recalling correctly, you can also potentially have more touch in your life by having more than one partner/being ethically nonmonogamous
• try machines or tools meant for massage, or other stand-ins for touch from people, like a weighted blanket or a hot bath, for instance
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Jay27
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Re: How do I deal with being touch starved?

Unread post by Jay27 »

Hi Heather! As you can tell from this post my gf and I are still together but we changed our expectations and are acting more like friends for now. We’re doing better.
I’d like to ask my friends for more touch but I don’t know how. I feel like it might be awkward. Volunteering at an animal shelter sounds nice. I love dogs and cats. Once work is less busy it could be fun. I have a weighted stuffed animal that’s pretty small but helps sometimes.
I don’t like meeting people on apps and I’m not sure if ENM is for me. I like being monogamous and I don’t want to feel like I’m using someone to replace her until she gets back.
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Re: How do I deal with being touch starved?

Unread post by Latha »

Hi Jay- I'm jumping in because I'm on shift, I hope you don't mind.

I completely understand how it could seem awkward to ask your friends for more touch. It might help to keep in mind that a lot of people know what it is like to feel a bit touched starved, and that plenty of people enjoy hugs and other skinship. If you don't feel comfortable asking directly, perhaps you could start by asking your friends how they feel about such physical contact. Personally, I've asked such questions before- my friends did not think it was strange.
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Re: How do I deal with being touch starved?

Unread post by Heather »

Also poking back in to say that I don't think that if ENM options feel like a possibility this has to be about "replacing" someone.

Here's the thing: it sounds like as of right now, the only person you're really getting physical touch with is one person. That's a lot for any of us to ask of one person or be asked of as one person, someone's whole touch needs, you know? And you're also finding that there are times in this relationship where you aren't able to get the touch you get from it. So, seeking out other people to get touch from isn't something that's about replacing so much as adding more touch, or more options for touch, than you currently have in your life. Get what I mean?

Mind, that doesn't mean this is right for you or something you might want to explore. I'm certainly not trying to talk you into any given model. I just want to be sure you know that there's another way to come at this than to think of others as replacements for someone when they're away.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
Jay27
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Re: How do I deal with being touch starved?

Unread post by Jay27 »

Latha wrote: Fri Sep 22, 2023 4:17 am Hi Jay- I'm jumping in because I'm on shift, I hope you don't mind.

I completely understand how it could seem awkward to ask your friends for more touch. It might help to keep in mind that a lot of people know what it is like to feel a bit touched starved, and that plenty of people enjoy hugs and other skinship. If you don't feel comfortable asking directly, perhaps you could start by asking your friends how they feel about such physical contact. Personally, I've asked such questions before- my friends did not think it was strange.
Could I just ask them how they feel about holding hands with or cuddling with their friends?
Jay27
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Re: How do I deal with being touch starved?

Unread post by Jay27 »

Hi again Heather.
I’ve been spreading out my emotional needs across a bigger group of people than just my girlfriend and that’s been really good for my mental health. I talk to my friends and family and my therapist. But it feels much more weird to meet my physical needs with people and I don’t know why.
Latha
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Re: How do I deal with being touch starved?

Unread post by Latha »

Hi Jay
Could I just ask them how they feel about holding hands with or cuddling with their friends?
Yes, definitely.
But it feels much more weird to meet my physical needs with people and I don’t know why.
Perhaps it is due to cultural norms. I think it's much more normalized to meet such needs with one's partner and immediate family than it is to meet such needs with friends.
Jay27
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Re: How do I deal with being touch starved?

Unread post by Jay27 »

It feels kind of awkward because most of my friends are queer women and I have 2 guy friends who are hetero-romantic and I don’t want anyone getting the wrong ideas.
Latha
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Re: How do I deal with being touch starved?

Unread post by Latha »

Hmmm... I can see how that could be awkward.. Still, I'd imagine that asking, 'how do you feel about holding hands or cuddling with friends?' would imply your platonic intentions. If it seems appropriate, maybe you could talk a bit more about why you're asking- about how you've been feeling a little touch starved, and about how friends can use touch as a form of affection too. That might clarify your intentions a bit more.
Jay27
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Re: How do I deal with being touch starved?

Unread post by Jay27 »

I actually talked to my best friend yesterday and found out that they hate holding hands and cuddling which is a bit disappointing but everyone has their own preferences. I might ask some of my other close friends even though it feels really awkward.
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Re: How do I deal with being touch starved?

Unread post by Sam W »

I'm glad to hear you talked with your best friend! Even if it didn't result in what you were hoping for, you got practice asking for the kind of touch you're seeking and got important information about that friend's boundaries. I would for sure try asking other close friends; if nothing else, you now know that the awkwardness of it is totally survivable.
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