Q: I took up a spiritual path after a painful divorce and have not been in a relationship since. I have come to the conclusion that I am not so keen in being physical with someone, but I really want to connect at a more intimate level now. I want the holding, cuddles, companionship of the relationship but nothing else. Will I ever find a partner?
Ans: You will find multiple partners, not just one. There are many people who desire exactly what you do: Cuddles and platonic physical touch. Not many speak about it, just like not many people express their sexual preferences. We are conditioned to happily chat about food choices, hobbies, travel destinations and conveniently skip talking about very crucial needs: intimate ones.
And with sexual fulfillment becoming more and more aspirational, asking for platonic touch is looked down upon, or even pathologised. Some people assume that there is something wrong with you if you want to just hug. But the truth is that platonic touch is much more important to human beings than having sex. When we are deprived of touch as children, we are more likely to develop chronic illnesses, immunodeficiencies, as well as negative emotional and behavioral patterns.
Long periods of touch deprivation impact our mood, stress regulation capabilities, sleep, memory, and ideas of self-worth. A simple 20-second hug has an impact on hormones and neurotransmitters that help us deal with grieving, loss, breakups, social anxiety, depression. Touch decreases cortisol levels while increasing the positive effects of both bonding hormone oxytocin and mood stabilizer hormone serotonin.
While you wait to meet your cuddling partner, you can also avail of professional cuddling services nowadays available in bigger cities. Professional cuddlers will help you find out what you enjoy most when exploring platonic touch and practice for when it will happen. Just remember that this service is not, and cannot be, a replacement for a romantic connection.
The writer is an Intimacy & Relationship Coach, Founder of The Intimacy Curator, an organisation promoting self-discovery through emotional and sexual wellbeing (www.theintimacycurator.com). (Have a query? Send it on firstname.lastname@example.org)
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