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Moments like today… I wish I had someone in my life that understood and could just hold me.

I had a very busy and emotional day. Lots of triggers and epiphanies. Trying to cope alone as I do. Going to the therapist Thursday. But...it is moments like today I wish I had someone in my life that understood and could just hold me. Give me that caring contact. Just let me cry. Accept me with all of...this. Alas, that is not for me right now. I am sad but I know these feelings will pass. Hopefully quickly...
 
I think I understand how you feel, as I oftentimes feel this way myself, that I just want someone to hold me. But then it all becomes one big mess because am I just looking for reassurance? I can’t do that, it’s what I’m supposed to not do, seeking reassurance just feeds the obsessive monster. I don’t think I’m meant to have people in my life.
 
I had a very busy and emotional day. Lots of triggers and epiphanies. Trying to cope alone as I do. Going to the therapist Thursday. But...it is moments like today I wish I had someone in my life that understood and could just hold me. Give me that caring contact. Just let me cry. Accept me with all of...this. Alas, that is not for me right now. I am sad but I know these feelings will pass. Hopefully quickly...

It's completely understandable, completely relatable, completely human to want to be held and understood. That much most of us here understand about you, even if we can't bump your fist, shake your hand or give you a hug.

I have been where you are now very many times, so I know your situation can change. Some professional help sometimes invites us to have an external reference point to our situation, to try to look at it from another point of view. So I can offer mine, although I must apologize in advance if it is completely useless, which it may well be. I'm just going to share a thought that came to mind.

It's about an odd paradox. Having that someone in our life who is there to hold us can be the exact same person who causes us a world of trouble. We need to be careful what we wish for. I myself am torn between the two situations: (1) having someone who will hug me one day and then cause me to physically shake with tension the next, or (2) not having that someone which will cause me a physical sense of loss that may lead to grief and deep loneliness.

In my personal experience, just one person among seven billion: we need to be careful what we wish for when we crave ending our loneliness, one way or another.

I have an idea for your therapy session today. When you are completely open and honest about your feelings with the person about what you have just told us here, you can extend that to asking for what you want. Asking for what we want is for some people an enormous therapeutic step that might eventually change your life.

If you do want this, you could tell your therapist that you would like them to hold your hand like the "peace be with you" handshake, nothing more than they use in some churches (NB I'm not religious). If you feel it necessary, you could communicate your feelings beforehand and thereby establish boundaries. You could tell them them you need feel you have a caring friend, and if necessary (as it often is), that you want to be very clear that this is not any kind of sexual need. That it's a need to not feel alone, and to be cared for, and to be understood and to have caring contact. I would actually recommend that, because although asking for someone's hand is completely innocent, it's actually a very rare occurrence so prior communication will help it, I am sure.

Personally, I think a hug could be way too intense, and even awkward. A handshake is extremely effective, by contrast. Context: I'm male and was once touched on the shoulder by a female therapist without her being invited to do that, and it ruined everything, and I ended the treatment. She may have meant well but it did feel flirtatious; what bothered me about that is flirtation was not what I was there for. I was there for trauma recovery so I felt that her mind was not on the job and I didn't want to receive something I wasn't requesting. It also felt like a misread of my emotions, I had no need for physical contact in the first place. If she had asked me what I thought about her putting her hand on my shoulder at that point I would say I really don't need it; If she had asked me what I thought about a handshake to express her solidarity at that point, I would have shrugged and said okay.

I myself have conducted a lot of very personal interviews in my professional life, with people in severe shock. If the person starts crying I have extended my upturned open hand if the person wishes to take it. They usually do, and it usually allows them to cry more, open up more, tell more. It's pretty amazing to see how effective that is.

The great thing about a handshake versus a hug is that it lets you continue conversation, eye contact or not, and gives enough physical space to cry. It can last a whole hour of talking without it feeling weird. You can do the whole session holding hands, or half of it, or off an on. You're in control of what you need. In fact, asserting yourself in the therapy room, shaping the session the way you want it, is exactly what some therapists might even encourage.

Of course, you might be physically repelled by your therapist so in that case, try this with someone else!
 
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be careful what we wish for when we crave ending our loneliness,
So true! It’s why I’m not sure whether I could really ever have a partner again—I think one of us would cause too much pain to the other.
Asking for what we want is for some people an enormous therapeutic step that might eventually change your life.
Agree, it can be amazing!
handshake versus a hug
Interesting! As a woman I feel the opposite of you… that a hug is less intimate than
the whole session holding hands
To me this would feel super uncomfortable, way too intimate, sexualizing even. Whereas, with hugs there are a whole catalog of kinds, and it’s very easy for me to make polite hugs. Fascinating how different those experiences can be for people. I thought about the hand thing for a long time, but no matter what the hands kept feeling too intimate in my mind and hug was easy. I wonder if women are conditioned to offer up hugs more and for a man a hug might be a more vulnerable thing?
 
I wonder if women are conditioned to offer up hugs more and for a man a hug might be a more vulnerable thing?

It's very cultural IMHO. One way of completely freaking out a Japanese acquaintance is to offer them a hug, let alone shaking their hand, according to my American friend who spent a lot of time in the country. I don't recall where you are from; to my mind Brits and Europeans also find hugging acquaintances is a more American thing to do although yes some of them also do it.

As a man am actually very comfortable with hugging as my parents were great huggers (plus I knew a lot of extroverted actors in my youth, different story). But I've had to adjust to societal norms. As men we've often been told especially over the past 15 years or so that "every man is a potential rapist" so some of us have learned to back off from all physicality. Given kissing the cheek of the opposite sex has become perceived as sleazy and punishable for men in professional environments, better off safe than sorry.

Maybe it's age, too: FWIW I hug less, the older I get, entirely based on the adverse reaction I've had from some people in my life experience being offered hugs. When through my job I was a de facto emotional 'first responder' to relatives of violent crime victims (like literally meeting people two days after a horrific murder-suicide in their immediate family) I am certain that hugging them would have been completely inappropriate and unprofessional.

On the hand-hold, it really depends how we do it. There's a huge difference between the 'peace be with you' handshake in church (pretty much the same as the handshake contract of business) and the clasped hands of sweethearts in the park. I think in the therapy room it is entirely merited under certain circumstances, if you get it right. The key is that the client should clearly be saying that is what they request rather then being pushed into it, consent is not enough.

So yeah, whatever is overwhelming or uncomfortable, important to say "no". And worth looking into what can be actively requested as opposed to passively consented to per se, too. So I think the OP could explore this whole subject area with a therapist, for great effect.
 
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@Applecore thanks for that. Yes I am from America. And I do understand the panic someone from a non-western country can get from a non-consensual hug. I did cause that once in a Pacific country— very controversial and scary for the man I hugged. Also I have family in Europe and they say Americans are super friendly with hugging and chatting.

in the therapy room it is entirely merited under certain circumstances, if you get it right.
Hard to imagine holding handshake hands for more than a moment but I am intrigued. Kind of wish I’d had the courage to ask for that. The sustained touching is something quite fearful for me. Wish I had a way to explore that outside of the therapy room. Oh, I remember— ballroom dance and sparring offer opportunities for sustained touch.
 
It's very cultural IMHO. One way of completely freaking out a Japanese acquaintance is to offer them a hug, let alone shaking their hand, according to my American friend who spent a lot of time in the country. I don't recall where you are from; to my mind Brits and Europeans also find hugging acquaintances is a more American thing to do although yes some of them also do it.
Super true.

Like there is very little better way to freak out an American than kissing their cheeks. Although that’s a simple/formal hello across most of Europe. The number of kisses denoting the closeness… or importance… of the relationship. .

In the US? Police can be called, and a jury convicting for sexual assault, for what amounts to a handshake.

It’s a strange world.
 
little better way to freak out an American than kissing their cheeks. Although that’s a simple/formal hello across most of Europe
Lol—true! I had a parent at work who kissed my cheeks the first time she met me and I tried to roll with it but I kind of froze inside. She’s from Iran so maybe it’s a Middle East thing too? She also, at a social event, linked her arm in mine to stroll for a moment. Again, rolled with it but taken aback. And also, wondered what it would be like to grow up in a culture with that level of everyday intimacy.

My brother lives in Europe and he said there is some culture that kisses on the lips when they meet! Like a peck. This was before COVID. I can’t remember what culture he was talking about—maybe some Eastern European or Russian?
 
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