We now know that touch is a love language; something that people use to communicate how much they care and/or prefer to receive this type of communication from their loved ones.
We’re also aware that people can become “touch starved” and that it can happen in a multitude of ways. We can experience touch starvation by being single without a social group that appropriates touch, even if it’s just a hug from a close friend or a hand on the shoulder when you need consoling. We are also able to experience touch starvation when we are actively dating and unsure of when it is "okay" to hold hands or scoot closer on the couch, and in relationships where we become too busy/comfortable to take time for simple, nonsexual touch.
It is interesting how quickly touch can progress a relationship; how nervous we first are when we start dating a new person and how critical the planning of holding hands, looping arms, embracing, and kissing becomes. It is also interesting how quickly touch can hinder or even halt a relationship. A lack of touch can cause some major back-steps in a partnership.
From my own point of view, I am in constant need of non-sexual touch even when I’m getting sexual touch. Specifically, this intense, consistent need is only met by the partner I’m dating at time. Friends just can’t seem to do the trick. It’s quite often possible that non-sexual touch, such as cuddling, is expected to lead into sexual touch. If you’re like me and this isn’t always what you’re after, I’ve compiled a short list of how to still get touched without feeling obligated sexually:
Lay some ground rules.
There is nothing wrong in expressing what you expect. I typically do this after the relationship has turned sexual. Be mindful, though, this also opens up opportunity for them to express their expectations. This can be a very serious, very crucial conversation that might be a deal breaker. For example, finding out a partner needed sex every day and I can go weeks without it was a turning point to evaluating the validity of a past relationship. It’s important to also note that everyone is valid in their needs and, of course, there can be compromise.
Find opportunity everywhere.
The opportunity for non-sexual touch exists throughout our day-to-day; we just need to know when to take advantage of it. If you’re comfortable enough with your friends, always go in for a hug when you see them. Meeting someone new? Go in for that handshake, always. If you both are ok with PDA, hold your partners hand when you’re walking together, even if it’s just from the front door to the car. Reach across the table at dinner to put your hand on their hand, thigh, or reach across to brush hair away from their forehead.