The Overlooked Importance Of Touch In A Relationship

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Counselling Psychologist - M.Sc. Clinical Psychology

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Reviewed By:

Counselling Psychologist - Ph.D. Relationship Psychology

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The simple act of coming in contact with another individual is called touch. This article will focus on the different types of meaningful and purposeful touch, not the ones which happen by accident. This simple act of touch can do much more than words do. It can make a person feel heard, understood, and accepted. It takes away from the loneliness that we often feel. 

Touch plays an important role in the formative years of children, as it allows them to get comfortable with the idea of touch if taught properly. Consent also plays an essential role in determining comfort and trust levels. Negative experiences with touch and the lack of it can also cause an aversion to touch. The correlation between anxiety, depression, stress, and touch is large and inversely related.

Touch Comes In Many Forms

Touch comes in a variety of forms such as

  1. Casual touch- this is the type of touch or contact that we share with your friends such as handshakes, high fives, hugs and back pats 
  2. Formal touch- formal touch is used in official surroundings that include formal handshakes
  3. Intimate touch- this touch is shared between family members, such as hugs, and with romantic partners such as cuddling and so on 

Touch can be a powerful way of communicating emotions non-verbally. It offers a subtler and more nuanced approach to the way we interact with others. Whether it is a hug or a pat on the back, touch can communicate positive emotions such as love and gratitude. Contact can also be an essential way of conveying sympathy. For example, when someone is experiencing grief, sometimes an arm around their shoulder provides more comfort than words alone.

Benefits Of Touch In A Relationship

Since now we know that touch is beneficial for us, as is building a strong foundation for it, these benefits can be divided into physical, cognitive, and social:

  • Physical benefits 

Anxiety, depression, and stress all have a significant relationship with touch. It has been shown to reduce heart rate and relax the individual. It can be done with the simple act of holding hands. Oxytocin, a hormone known for fostering emotional bonds with people, is also released as a result. Although it works even if it s just a stranger holding your hand, the effect is best when it s a loved one. According to research, there is a link between touch and the severity of the symptoms of borderline personality disorder. This shows that touch has an impact on our fundamental neuronal architecture. With the discovery that those who are deprived of human touch are more likely to have immune system illnesses, it appears that even our immunological response may be partially influenced by touch.

  • Cognitive benefits 

The advantages of human touch also include increasing our sense of social acceptance and connection. In one study, a team of NBA basketball players really performed better when they made team-building gestures like backslapping, chest bumping, and high-five exchanges while on the floor. This, according to researchers, indicates the effectiveness of touch in conveying collaboration and confidence. According to experts, holding a baby s hand during a stressful time can help calm them down and reduce their stress levels. A back rub can also help infants fall asleep.

  • Social benefits 

Oxytocin has a self-renewing nature. It s how your body encourages you to establish and sustain relationships with others, as well as how it rewards you for doing so. According to studies, oxytocin increases your feelings of generosity, empathy, nurturing, collaboration, and gratitude, all of which help you be a better lover, parent, friend, and coworker. Particularly, gratitude is such a potent emotional connector that many psychologists refer to it as the psychological "glue" that holds relationships together. Having physical contact is crucial when establishing new relationships. For instance, when a stranger shakes your hand, you re more inclined to trust them because their touch releases the neurotransmitter oxytocin, which increases your level of trust in them.

Tips To Use Physical Intimacy To Increase Relational Intimacy

Relational intimacy is often characterized by a sense of love, trust, and vulnerability between individuals. It is moderated through acts of shared experiences and values. Physical intimacy can be used to promote relational intimacy through small acts of physical touch while respecting your partner s boundaries, needs and wants, discussing what is optimal for the both of you, making them feel comfortable, giving them the time to be comfortable with your touch, being patient and understanding and being purposeful about your touch. Having a meaning behind the touch that you share and your partner being aware of the meaning that you wish to translate should be clear and up for discussion. This is how physical intimacy can be used to promote relational wellness 

Importance Of Touch In Relationships 

The hormone of love or cuddles, oxytocin, is essential during pregnancy and early childhood. This hormone continues to be essential for close connections throughout our entire lives. encourages the release of oxytocin, also known as the "love hormone”. Touch can be a potent non-verbal tool for expressing feelings. It provides a subtler and more complex way of interacting with others. Touch, whether it be a hug or a pat on the back, can express uplifting feelings of love and thanks. Making eye contact is another crucial component of expressing sympathy. An arm around someone s shoulder, for instance, can sometimes be more consoling than words when they are grieving.

A couple therapist, by explaining the importance of touch, can repair relationships. Lack of touch often creates tension between partners, and it is essential for both to understand the importance of touch and how it contributes positively to the relationship

Ms. Priyanka Walia
Ms. Priyanka Walia M.A. Counselling Psychology Counselling Psychologist 05 years of experience

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Ms. Muskan Maheshwari
Ms. Muskan Maheshwari M.Sc. Clinical Psychology Clinical Psychologist 02 years of experience

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Mr. Nishant Sharma
Mr. Nishant Sharma M.Phil. Clinical Psychology Clinical Psychologist 07 years of experience

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Ms. Akshita Bakshi
Ms. Akshita Bakshi Ph.D. Relationship Psychology Counselling Psychologist 05 years of experience

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