Being in a couple has important links to past experience in your family of origin. If you were lucky enough to grow up in a loving family, the parallels are heartwarming.
For instance, in the mother/child relationship, there was a powerful need to touch each other, to be close. This is also true in your adult relationships with a partner.
Not everyone recognizes that this need is normal for an adult. I wish this fact was taught to adolescents in life skills classes, or even in those classes that attempt to teach teenagers about healthy sexuality in church or in school.
For many of the people I see in couples’ therapy, only one person of the pair has a desperate need to be touched and to touch. For that person, it feels reaffirming — a sign that the other person loves and accepts.
It has also been demonstrated that being touched after revealing something upsetting has a profoundly supportive effect.
But some partners do not come from a physically friendly family, and so being warm and affectionate, even toward a beloved partner, does not feel normal or comfortable.
Problems can arise when the desire to be touched is not met by the aloof partner, causing deep feelings of rejection.
There are different reasons why a person may not enjoy touching or being touched. Often, it stems from lack of experience with affectionate and appropriate touch as a child. For a motivated client, this problem can be solved with patience and resolve.
But some instances are more difficult. Research has found that disliking touch seems to be more common among people on the autism spectrum. Fear of touch also can be common among people with social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In that situation, aversion to touch might be treated with cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotropic drugs such as anti-anxiety drugs.
If your dislike of touch is causing a rift in your relationship, try to address it with a mental health professional. Avoiding the subject can lead to resentment and a lack of trust in your relationship that over time can profoundly erode feelings of love
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