We Were Touch Starved Before the Pandemic, How Are We Doing Now?

By: Neda Ahmed

Touch Starvation, Skin Hunger: these are the names of the condition which describe the longing of touch which isn’t conditioned to be sexual 一 the touches we are longing for are merely kind.

We? Yes, we. Probably, this ‘we’ is inclusive of you as well… and most of us. That back-pat, this hand stroke and that warm hug that confirmed and passed affection through us, a solid tiny gesture of care or love. The pandemic definitely contributed to this need, but this unfulfilled crisis was there way before the coronavirus spread. We can say that this pandemic added salt to injury, but as the saying implies, we were already injured 一 and we were injured bad.

This is no made-up condition that got all to do with the, quote unquote, ‘emotional problems’ of this generation; in fact, it’s a neurological condition and is as serious as they come. It doesn’t really spread like wildfire because it’s not contagious. It’s common, though… actually, ‘common’ is an understatement. We’re humans, we’re social beings. We need the warmth that will seep into us through our skin. It’s the warmth of others that keep us alive and well. But yes, it could very much so be emotional, we haven’t had the most present or affectionate parents now, have we? Moreover, we’ve been conditioned that touch is something strictly sexual, which is ridiculously untrue. And, many of us – especially girls – are survivors, touch is a (pun not intended), a touchy subject.

The thing about Skin Hunger is that it’s not visible to the naked eye nor is it purely psychological as well. It’s a condition that lies in between human biology and the study of the human brain and emotions, a bridge. A creaky bridge, dare I say. Whenever you feel like you want to be touched, that’s valid. A hundred and one percent valid. We need touch to survive. We need to be reassured that we’re not alone, we need confirmation that we are not forgotten, and we certainly need the small gestures that remind us that we are cared for, if not loved.

Being touched is a survival need rather a luxurious want, and we need to recognize that. The lack of touch doesn’t cause us to break out or have skin rash (I hope it did); it causes you to feel alone, or it amplifies feelings of loneliness. Do you feel under-appreciated, isolated or lonely? Do you have your own depressive and anxiety-laced days? Do you commonly feel stressed-out? If the answer was yes to most of these questions, you know, have felt and lived the symptoms of being touch-starved. I dare you to call it trivial, now.

It’s been scientifically proven that infants who are not cuddled and showered with love develop major growth issues.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting the longest hug in history. Crying into someone’s shoulder and feeling their compassion, alive and well, embracing me is something I may, sometimes, give up my life to experience. The hand rubbing from a best friend resembles the positivity of the world, for me. The genuine smile of a trusted one, tailored for me and only me, is what I’ve been longing for for a few days now. There’s no shame lying in this desperate need 一 you’re allowed and encouraged to vocalize these feelings. Whatever you’re feeling, it’s valid and real. Whatever you need, you deserve to have it.

“Neda, we’re in a pandemic, wake up!”

Though the current situation isn’t ideal for healing, FaceTime your friends, cuddle with your pet, take long baths and showers (preferably hot and with bubbles), exercise or eat chocolate (to release dopamine) or meditate. Also, try to avoid alcohol and drugs because they do nothing but worsen the symptoms of Touch Starvation. These are the pandemic-friendly compromises that will help us cope. It’s so much more than a difficult situation, it’s outright horrid, especially if you’re dealing with some form of domestic violence. We just want you to know that nothing is wrong with you and that you’re certainly not alone.

We see you, we hear you, we feel for you, and we’re truly here for you.

Tell your friends you love them; on the behalf of the TT team, we love you and support you 一 no matter what.

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