Touch me. Ouch. You were just surprised weren’t you? Why? Well primarily for two reasons. One: its usually hyper-sexual males that say awkward jokes or lines that include the words touch me, and so therefore you typically associate those words with sexuality. Two: I used the title “meaningful touch” and the the third word on the blog was “ouch” — you were surprised because you don’t associate the word meaningful with anything painful, and for that I’m glad. :)
You’ve read to this point because you already have your own ideas on what a meaningful touch is, at what times and places it occurs, and between which types of parties is it most applicable or acceptable. I’m not here to change your mind, but perhaps to tell you a bit about what I have observed regarding a meaningful touch.
1) Touching is, in general, a positive thing and a sign of love. If you went to a marriage counselor and told them that you have not even touched your partner in months, they would gasp. If you went to a psychologist and told them that you are scared of touching your child, they would have deep concerns for both you and your child. Touching is in fact one of the greatest signs of love and is a necessary form of human interaction.
2) There are different types of touches. Some are reserved for special occasions. Some are part of daily human interaction. Some are a sign of approval. Others tell you that it is OK. Some tell you that you have done something wrong. Once in a while you get a touch that you don’t forget. Its meaning is hard to explain.
What is a meaningful touch?
It can be practically anything. It can be a pat on the back. It can be a handshake. It can be a hug. It can be a kiss. It can be something holding your hand. It can be your friend grabbing your hand as you cross the street. It can be someone who picks something out of your hair. It can be someone who takes that eyelash out of your eye. It can be someone who puts their hand on your shoulder while you are talking. It is a friend who leans on you. A rest on your shoulder. Someone who grabs your hand and tells you something.
What does it show?
It shows a sign of mutual comfort between two individuals. In all of the examples I gave above, a couple of things are in common: 1) the two people exchanging a meaningful touch must know each other 2) the two people have established some sort of rapport or mutual trust. 3) the two people care about each other. Let me repeat that last sentence. The two people care about each other. Lets think about that a little. If these sorts of simple interactions that add incredible meaning to our lives. Remove all of them, and I’d bet we would all get depressed. We rely on meaningful touches in our life.
Now let me add a bit of humor to the situation and talk about typical male-female interactions and what goes through different parties heads at different occasions during meaningful touches:
Girl in line waiting to buy coffee, random guy puts hand on shoulder, and asks a question about the day. WEIRD. Right? The girl is frightened — turns around wondering “who the hell just put their hand on my shoulder” — she is probably tense. So if she knows you the first thing you will see in her eyes is “relief” because every bell and whistle in her body just went off thinking “creepo”
Guy in line waiting to buy coffee, random girl puts hand on shoulder and asks a question about the day. Wow. He is surprised but not scared. I think that guys generally get much less meaningful touch than women — and women are definitely or at least typically a bit more sensitive about when and in what social situations they touch men. Even on the shoulder. When the guy realizes its a girl after he turns around, he will probably have other bells and whistles going off. Girl touched me, he says. Calm down dude, its just your shoulder.
Guy in club, talking to girl at bar. He touches her hand. Risky, dude. But your sending a signal. What is it? You’re at least saying I like what you are saying, but you’re likely saying more and she knows that. You, by giving that meaningful touch have just set yourself up for a yipee! moment or a oops! moment. The casual conversation, is likely over, or is at least about to change directions. Why? Because the social setting changed: you’re in a club and girls on on ALERT. They don’t want to get “picked up” — even if they are looking for attention or for a good time or good conversation, they don’t want to get “picked up” or feel sleazy and you just touched her dude. Risky, but you have to do it at some point if you like her.
Guy and girl are friends. They are at school. Guy sees girl and runs up to her and gives her a hug. Likely scenario: Smiles. Now imagine if I changed the venue. They are in a hot tub. Like scenario: SCREAM. Everything is not just person specific, but context specific. I don’t recommend anyone trying to hug any girl in a hot tub unless you’re really comfortable. And no, I’ve never tried it either.
Random stranger is crying on the street. Another random stranger approaches put hand on shoulder and says “I promise you it will be ok.” HERO! Think about it for a second. They don’t even know each other, but the chance of that meaningful touch getting rejected: almost zero. Why? Its sincerity is obvious.
That is the biggest lesson that I want you to walk away from this blog entry with. Meaningful touches are only meaningful when they are sincere. The more sincere they are the more meaning they will have. Sincerity to express a variety of emotions, yes: depending on the relationship, and depending on the context.
Touching clearly yields powerful emotional responses. In this blog I’ve scared you, I’ve made you go awww, I’ve made you think about romantic moments in your own lives. So keep on touching :) But be sincere, and I promise it will be reciprocated.