Touch. It is a weird thing.
It is something that we do every day in varying amounts. We touch ourselves, our pets, our loved ones, and friends. In fact, humans need touch as a way of social interaction and connection.
And it is easy to touch our loved ones. Hugs and kisses for our close family. Handshakes, hugs, and backslaps for our friends.
And if we have to touch someone we don't know, a nice strong and formal handshake shows we are happy to connect, but at a distance.
I never had too much though on touch. I grew up in a cuddly family and hugs and kisses were a natural part of life. Then I became a massage therapist and started touching professionally.
This is where my touching limits started to come into view. In general most massage therapists are comfortable with platonic touch. It is their job!
And as I began working with other massage therapists, they had no qualms about touching me, and it started to get really uncomfortable.
I would be standing around and out of now where my fellow colleges would start to massage my head or shoulders. Brush my hair out, and give me random hugs all the time.
IT FREAKED ME OUT!
In fact, it took another 3 years to train myself not to flinch or get uncomfortable with touch as an expression of platonic love. And I literally gave others positive platonic touch everyday!
Now I've grown to enjoy physical contact as a means of connecting with people in a nonverbal way. But it sure took awhile!
Then I went and visited Italy. They are what you would consider a Contact Culture, so platonic and positive touch is part of their everyday lives. I was getting hugs and kisses from strangers, my personal space invaded on the regular, and it was the first time I had seen men that hugged and clung to each other who were not lovers, but just friends.
This was where I started to realize that North America is very much a Non-Contact Culture. Touch is only ok if it is family or intimate, but even then I have noticed that there are even differences between the genders.
Women are more prone to platonic and positive physical contact then men are. They will hug and cuddle their friends, family, lovers, dogs, cats, blankets, pillows, tea mugs... or maybe that's just me!
The point is that women tend to feel less uncomfortable when it comes to giving and receiving positive platonic touch.
Men on the other hand, tend to feel acutely uncomfortable with platonic touch! Especially from strangers and other men. The only time platonic and positive touch is perceived as ok, is if it is with family or perhaps a very close friend. Older generations seem to be much less likely to touch as well.
So I've come to realize that the older men in North America are starved of touch. An excerpt from a male friend's writing describes it perfectly.
"As was common with those of us growing up in the 80's, I was spanked as a child. What may not have been as common was the fact that, after my last spanking around the age of ten, my father did not touch me again until I was in my twenties. He never beat or struck me, but he never hugged me either. I would watch as my dad would easily wrap his arms around my sister, kiss my mother, and even cuddle that family dog. But Not me."
And this is not uncommon. After boys become men, platonic touch decreases significantly. Even between family members.
Men are constantly being told they are too rough, don't know their own strength, or are going to victimize someone solely because they are male. We have conditioned men to be afraid of touch.
Is it a surprise then that many massage clients are men? Massage is one of the only places that men can go to receive positive touch from a stranger without judgment and without worrying of making others uncomfortable.
And even in the massage realm, it is still difficult to be a male massage therapist because of the lack of positive platonic touch in our society.
When you have only been touched intimately or by very close female friends, letting another man touch you, even for health and relaxation, can be very uncomfortable.
We want to change that! Starting in the world of massage, but branching out to the rest of North America. Platonic positive touch for everyone!
Make our country great again by breaking down the barriers of positive touch in regards to men.
It is time for you guys to make the change. Breakdown the fears and stereotypes and start touching the men in your life!
Father's day is coming up. Why not start with hugging your dad or son just a little longer and remember good touch is good for us!