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Adjusting to less human touch

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Neanderthal posted 11/15/2020 11:12 AM

I never realized how important to my mental health human touch is. I can trace it back to my relationship with my father. Before he abandoned my mom and I, we were very close. Yes he was physically abusive, but I still loved doing dad/son activities with him.

One thing he was great at was random head scratches, back scratch, etc. I hated church, but so looked forward to that time sitting in the church row with him. I felt loved when he hugged me or scratched my head.

Then he moved away when I was a preteen. I tried to get that kind of physical touch from my mom, but she wasn't capable of it. Not her fault, years of literal torture from my dad (physical, verbal, sexual abuse). So I just went without.

Fast forward to my failed marriage. That physical touch was like a peace for me. I needed it. Even when we were in our worst places, I still needed it and asked for it.

I survived 2 six month deployments without it, but I became a very cold distant person. I don't want to become that again.

Now I'm divorced but not completely alone. My daughter is with me half of the week. I'm learning to share that positive connection, head scratching to her (when she sits still lol). I give her lots of hugs too. When I tuck her into bed. She hugs and kisses me good night, then states: "Now you may go". She's 6 BTW. I love those little routines.

Anyways on the days I don't have her, and I'm down, I really miss that connection. I'm trying to stay away from any kind of companionship for a while.

What do others do to cope with that lack of physical connection?

BearlyBreathing posted 11/15/2020 11:16 AM

Iíve had a hard time with this too. I fill in that gap by massage when things are open, my cats, and hugs to friends back when we could do that. Itís hard but I realize that Iím getting a little more used to it and I really only want it when itís truly authentic. But overall yeah itís just another of the gifts of infidelity

[This message edited by BearlyBreathing at 8:34 PM, November 15th, 2020 (Sunday)]

Justsomeguy posted 11/15/2020 11:27 AM

This is a tough one for me as well, so I hear you. My STBXWW and I cuddled a lot. We were very touchy. It's especially hard at bedtime for me as i miss being next to someone (I love).

There is no remedy i can think of, save asking a female friend to curl up on the couch with me and watch a movie. Yup, creepy request, but the law of averages being what it is, it stands to reason that there are women who feel as I do. Funny, so many lonely people unable to connect.

J707 posted 11/15/2020 12:57 PM

This was so hard for me too. I've adjusted quite well though. I don't have an answer or solution though. My dog will sleep on my bed so I guess theres that! Atleast he loves me unconditionally and never gets tired of my awesome stories!

crazyblindsided posted 11/15/2020 13:23 PM

I struggle with this also especially on the weeks I don't have my kids. My son will still let me hug him my daughter on the other hand not so much but she's 17. I just miss so much when they were little and hugs were abundant.

My STBX was not a hugger or good at human touch he always just wanted sex and any human touch was supposed to allude to that

Most of this I get from my cats and their unconditional love. Animals help with this a lot I don't know what I would do without them.

BeanLaidir posted 11/15/2020 14:49 PM

I can identify with this too. Before Covid, I could hug and be hugged by my parents and friends which helped. I live with two of my kids, both young adults. My daughter and I sometimes curl up on the sofa to watch a movie, which is lovely. I make my son hug me, I tell him he needs a hug, but he sees through me and hugs me back! My daughter often hugs me but for some reason our dog thinks this is a signal for her to join in and hump us, so we have to pick our moment carefully. I really really miss being able to hug my parents most of all, and they miss it terribly too. Covid has made me more aware of the role of physical touch and its importance.

I don't think there is a solution that will ever match the comfort of a good relationship though. Affectionate companionship is one of the things I miss the most about being married. I have a lovely man in my life but he lives 2 hours away so that doesn't fill the void either. I just keep telling myself that this stage (for I hope it is just that) is still preferable than being with my cheating lying XH.

HeHadADoubleLife posted 11/15/2020 15:24 PM

I honestly don't have a good answer to this, but wanted to join the chorus saying yup, me too.

The pandemic hasn't helped in that regard either. It's very common to hug people upon seeing them, and I don't even get that anymore.

Seconding J707, having pets helps. In my darkest days post separation, the cats could sense when I was struggling and would come cuddle with me when I was crying alone in bed. They still come sleep with me most of the time, and just the weight of having them on my legs or whatever is nice. It is definitely not the same as human connection though.

One of the things my therapist and I have figured out is that part of why I accepted some of the more abusive aspects of my XH's sex addiction is because of the physical touch aspect that came along with it. Not the actual sex, but the other stuff, like playing with my hair, cuddling, hugging etc. It was never outright communicated as a quid pro quo, but it was very apparent to me that when we had sex, I got more physical affection. Like crazyblindsided, my XH always viewed any form of physical affection as leading to sex, which made everything complicated. A tit for tat that I absolutely despised, and over time made sex feel very transactional and gross. I worry about how I will navigate physical affection in future relationships, because it's definitely something I need, but it has a lot of negative connotations now as well.

I also wonder if anyone else has this specific issue when it comes to touch - I only really like it from my SO, and nobody else. Cuddling/hugging your kids is different, but I mean from adults. Like even if I were to call up one of my guy friends, cuddling with them would absolutely not feel satisfying. In my day to day life I would prefer if nobody touched me at all, and I actually really like the 6 ft personal space bubble that has been created for me out in the world. But with an SO, I am perfectly happy to be physically affectionate as much as possible.

I too have been avoiding companionship until I feel better able to handle my triggers. I just had my 2 year anti-versary on Nov 3rd, and I still don't feel ready. But it's a really weird position to be in, because I crave physical touch, and yet I know I'm going to have very visceral reactions to it. Does anyone else feel like it's a little self-sabotaging to deny yourself physical touch, especially after you've identified it as such an important thing for you?

When I think about dating again, the thought of someone touching me makes me tense up, so I can't really imagine how much worse it might be in real life. It's so weird, because I know I'm not ready for it yet, but the desire is there.

Oh, and one last thing - a weighted blanket has helped! It's definitely not the same, don't get me wrong, but if you think about the science behind it, it's pretty cool. You get an increase of serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine, while also decreasing cortisol. I've found I get a really good, deep sleep with the weighted blanket. However I will warn you that for me, that has also meant an increase in vivid dreams, some of which are more like nightmares - rehashing of some fights, defending my daughters from XH, some pretty gnarly stuff. It's clearly stuff my sub conscious needs to work out, and hasn't been able to because I haven't been getting deep enough sleep, but when I first started using the blanket that was a side effect I wasn't prepared for.

Neanderthal posted 11/15/2020 16:43 PM

Thanks for the responses. I'm not sure why I went all FOO issues in explaining my want of physical contact. That says something doesn't it? I thought I had to justify wanting to be touched! Like it's not a common desire of people.

A massage was something I thought about, but I felt creepy about it. I'm not sure why.

Getting my hair cut was always something I enjoyed too. Male or female, barber or stylist, it didn't matter. I felt weird about that enjoyment too (It was never sexual BTW).

I miss my dogs. My ex has offered for me to take them for sleep overs. But my apartment wouldn't be happy, and living in a pet hair free environment is kinda nice. I may rent a hotel room just to sleep with my dogs. lol

I was also guilty of expecting physical touch to lead to sex. I wasn't always like that in my marriage. I'll have to think about that a bit. I'm not really sure what the catalyst was or when it started. My guess is military life. Always being away is very hard and can help create some terrible habits.

A weighted blanket is a good idea. Growing up our house was always REALLY cold! So I always had a pile of blankets on me. I had to slide underneath them, and then never move. lol That run to the bathroom in the morning was brutal!


99problems posted 11/15/2020 18:13 PM

I get a lot of what I need in this regard from my snuggly 7 yo daughter. She is a cuddle maniac.
I really couldn't bear to affectionately touch my stbxw for quite a while before we separated. So I've been without that for a few years. Guess you just get used to it after a while. It gives me the creepy-crawlies to imagine anything like that happening again. I'd rather hug a crocodile, honestly. Less dangerous and more attractive (to me at least).

[This message edited by 99problems at 6:13 PM, November 15th, 2020 (Sunday)]

Hutch posted 11/15/2020 19:34 PM

I so wish I had profound advice to give. To say it ineloquently and very unladylike, today simply sucked ass! And not a cute ass. Nope. A big, ugly ass! I felt as you do; alone, lonely, and simply sad. My kids are in college and for the most part Iíve been doing well. But some days I hurt and today was one of those days. I just wanted to hug them and feel some affection.

So Iím a romantic at heart. One thing my EX did not rob me of was my desire to love and be loved. I look forward to that day and until that day comes, Iíll give my mom and sister hugs, and my kiddos when theyíre home. They may be begging to go when Iím through. HA!

Hang in there N. Feeling the desire for love and affection is healthy. It means youíre alive and open to it. In my opinion thatís a great thing. Hug that sweet daughter of yourís and remember youíre not alone.

[This message edited by Hutch at 7:38 PM, November 15th (Sunday)]

DevastatedDee posted 11/15/2020 20:51 PM

Yeah, my answer is dogs too, though your apartment doesn't sound like the place for that! I've wound up with 6 dogs, so I am never lonely or cold in bed, lol. It's harder to find a moment when some cuddly creature isn't touching me than when one is. I love it, though.

I'd be suffering without that, I'm sure. I need physical affection too.

EllieKMAS posted 11/16/2020 17:04 PM

Get a dog or cat. I have been very isolated this year with covid stuff and having my fur kids has helped more than I can say. I have three little dogs and two cats and at night when I'm snuggled up on the couch they alllll have to be touching me somehow. Bonus - I don't get cold!

skeetermooch posted 11/16/2020 17:30 PM

I miss falling asleep with someone but then I remind myself of his snoring and I miss it less

I do have a dog and my son is a hugger. I second the weighted blanket - they're awesome. Maybe other tactile things would help - hot baths and body scrubs. I do a lot of baths. All of the super cozy blankets and jammies make me feel safe, warm and snuggled up.

Phoenix1 posted 11/16/2020 21:02 PM

My primary love language is physical touch, and Xhole and I were very touchy feely. XSO was also touchy feely, which was great. Now I'm without, but have learned to put my own personal spin on it - it's nice to have, but I don't need it to have a fulfilled life. Want vs need. Keeping that perspective works for me.

Neanderthal posted 11/17/2020 08:41 AM

Want vs need
Excellent observation Phoenix1. Even in my OP, I wrote that physical touch was needed. That's not accurate. It's a want. Reframing my feelings in that way is probably a good idea. I can accept not getting something I "want" a lot easier than not getting something I "need".

I've lost a bunch of weight over the last year or so (I'm less insulated!).
I good pair of sweatpants and a blanket are very comforting.

katmandude54 posted 11/19/2020 16:45 PM

I think some kids intrinsically know when their Bmom or Bdad need their support. My 14-year-old daughter seeks me out to give me a hug daily. It is literally the difference between having a good day and being positive or feeling down.

silverhopes posted 1/16/2021 16:20 PM

Sorry, I know this post was from quite a bit ago, but was reading it and can relate so much. That's been the hardest thing since leaving my ex last year. There were about 4 months between leaving him and when the pandemic hit. I had wanted to find a fwb to fulfill that desire for physical touch - as well as reclaiming my sexuality from the abuse my ex put me through.

Anyway, the pandemic hit, and that's of course not happened. And then I feel pretty gross wanting touch as much as I do. I know it's a want and not a need... which is why I feel even more ashamed for wanting it. For a while I'd thought of resuming my search for someone to share that with after the pandemic, but the shame is beginning to outweigh that.

I am thankful for my cat and for my son - but it's sensual, take-a-long-time touch I miss.

Trying to do more exercise (as much as we can with quarantine and the gyms being closed), in hopes of wearing myself out and being too exhausted to miss touch or companionship. Being around other people even briefly is very challenging - especially when the few people I see out regularly either have physical companionship or friends they still hang out with, or even in some cases new people who they're dating. I feel jealous that they have friends they get to see and spend time with regularly (and wish that I could be one of those friends they want to hang out with). Then, the jealousy feels ugly too.

How do other people get their mind off the things they miss? How do we stop being jealous? Feels like I'm in a rut. Is it the sort of thing we just get used to eventually?

[This message edited by silverhopes at 4:21 PM, January 16th (Saturday)]

Neanderthal posted 1/17/2021 17:43 PM

Silver hopes. I hear you!

Don't feel shame for wanting physical touch. That's being way too hard on yourself.

I've been running a lot lately. It's been a big help. Creates enough good chemicals in me to stay fairly positive. I was having a really tough day a little while back and after work I ran 7 miles! For me that's like climbing everest.

Jealous of others hasn't been a big problem for me. I guess I'm too jaded. I just assume everyone else's relationship is a hot mess.

Honestly I wouldn't want to get used to this way of feeling of no contact. Cause I know how amazing touch is.

If you are ready..... resume your search. IMO you have nothing to be ashamed of.

Tallgirl posted 1/17/2021 18:12 PM

Wanting and needing human touch is normal. Donít feel shame. I really wish I had it in my marriage.

I had a very lonely marriage. My husband slept in another room, touch was rare. He refrained from getting close to me. He voluntarily kissed me twice in 10 years. I did get the occasional hug. Kinda like back slapping.

(Sometimes I shake my head for not seeing the shitstorm coming)

Not having him here is actually less lonely. No one is choosing to not touch me.

I also have a pup. Who does not like to cuddle. (Figures). But it is still nice.

My boys have always hugged me. Thank goodness, it kept me sane. So that helps. And I am not. Stingy with my hugs.

I too like the weighted blanket, it feels like a hug.

When COVID is over, I am going to hug everyone I see.

The1stWife posted 1/18/2021 07:19 AM

Can you get a pet?

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