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

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.

Yes. Full disclosure, as a British man who has lived in continental Europe for over 20 years I'm accustomed to a kiss on the cheek exchanged with women as it is standard in this part of the continent. It's a handshake upgrade between trusted colleagues or business affiliates. A hug would be a mistake, and for them would I would think feel way too close, forced or overblown.

Back home visiting colleagues in London, out of habit I kissed a female colleague on the cheek with the handshake greeting at a lunch meeting and though she reciprocated I immediately thought it might be a mistake. When we met in a group of her day-to-day office colleagues, I decided on handshake-only out of respect for her social dynamics; she slightly leant in for the cheek and then saw what I was doing. She glanced at her colleagues, and back at me, and nodded in understanding. We're great professional allies to this day.

Back in Europe, I was at the gym this morning while a female cleaner mopped the floor in the male changing room around naked men. I am not kidding, it's standard here and I still find it very weird - I guess because if the reverse was happening in the womens room, it would be stopped immediately by all of us well before any police were called.

This is on topic. The OP wanted physical contact and that is understandable. Physical contact raises the issue of boundaries and sexual relations to be managed very thoughtfully.

I had lunch today with with my male friend. I told him all about what I recently have written about here on other threads: the massive letter I just sent a person who was mean to me when I was a child. I needed to feel our glasses clink, and my friend's handshake. We all need that, in one form or another.
 
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female cleaner mopped the floor in the male changing room around naked men. I am not kidding
This is hilarious—can totally picture it.
lunch today with with my male friend. I told him all about what I recently have written about here on other threads: the massive letter I just sent a person who was mean to me when I was a child. I needed to feel our glasses clink, and my friend's handshake.
Beautiful! And good work!! Yes we all do need that in one form or another.
I am most afraid to touch the friends I care about the most, for fear of sexualizing them, so what happens is that when we touch incidentally it’s like a shock goes through my body. Like seeing the wrists of a woman in hijab—a little becomes too much. I need to balance that and am bringing my awareness to it and curious about pathways toward something related to intentional physical touch, like handshakes.
 
I am most afraid to touch the friends I care about the most, for fear of sexualizing them, so what happens is that when we touch incidentally it’s like a shock goes through my body. Like seeing the wrists of a woman in hijab—a little becomes too much. I need to balance that and am bringing my awareness to it and curious about pathways toward something related to intentional physical touch, like handshakes.

It's a core human need. Saw a Gabor Mate video on Youtube recently in which he pointed out that our evolutionary relatives in the natural world spend their entire infancy being held by their caregivers, unlike human infants. And also unlike human infants, they're never hit.
 
also unlike human infants, they're never hit
And apes also never directly feed their young (other than the breast-feeding). I was surprised to learn that. The babies just start being curious on their own and mouthing stuff (like humans) but then they just always take what they want without the adults ever intentionally feeding them.

About the hitting—sadly there is a whole corner of the algorithm of video shorts (I no longer consume video shorts) of mother monkeys doing all kinds of neglectful and abusive-looking things to their babies. But they are generally urban-ish monkeys so maybe they are under a bunch of stress? Not sure. Anyway, digressing. And pushing back a bit on the idea that life for our ancestors was utopia, though I do like to dwell frequently in that realm myself. The idea of a group of helpful intimate people surrounding you at all times sounds like what a lot of humans need now.
 
About the hitting—sadly there is a whole corner of the algorithm of video shorts (I no longer consume video shorts) of mother monkeys doing all kinds of neglectful and abusive-looking things to their babies.

I can well believe it, and I may well have misremembered his point. Perhaps it was about human cultures in which hitting children hasn't been a norm for as long as people can remember.

(Very briefly OT now, how do you not consume video shorts?! I am hooked and would love to get off them. I would try blocking Youtube entirely, but there are long videos there well worth a watch.)

In any case, I wonder how the OP is doing in response to all this discussion about physical contact... we're still here for them.
 
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@Applecore without derailing the thread, there is no setting to stop them, but a clunky workaround that worked well enough for me is to tap the three little dots in the top right of every recommended short and select “not interested”. After doing this enough your “for you scroll” will stop recommending them, at least for a while, but if you accidentally click on one they will start being recommended again and you just do it again. I find this method works well enough. And also turning off the “automatically start any video hovered over” helped me too.

I think social media and video shorts are part of what drives people apart physically. Because the brain gets enough satisfaction from watching them that there’s a false sense of not needing to actually connect or do anything. Or it seems too hard. Anyway… hope that helps.
 
I think social media and video shorts are part of what drives people apart physically. Because the brain gets enough satisfaction from watching them that there’s a false sense of not needing to actually connect or do anything. Or it seems too hard. Anyway… hope that helps.

Expertly swerved us right back on topic! Yes, you are so right, the internet for all its good aspects has also damaged us. We need hugs, strokes, or simply bumped fists. We mustn't let the internet hoodwink us into that false sense of not needing to actually connect.
 
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!
Thank you so much. I needed this difference of perspective. I have never considered a different type of physical touch, like a handshake. I am definitely going to explore this and experiment with it. Thank you so much. I would post more but I'm processing...
 
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.

Agree, it can be amazing!

Interesting! As a woman I feel the opposite of you… that a hug is less intimate than

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 you are correct and the hug versus handshake for men and women.
 
@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.


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.
Funny I teach ballroom dancing and that does not work for me. I do not get the same comfort from a student than I do someone else. And I will probably never be able to change that. Too many years of teaching. But...I get where you are coming from. I am great with sustained touch. Just want the comforting kind now.
 
Funny I teach ballroom dancing
Oh! That is funny! I took an intro class and there was nothing comforting about that touch! It was actually kind of stressful to be so close to someone but it was good practice for learning to move in tandem.

I wanted touch from my T and so I went to a massage therapist—one who specialized in emotional release, and that was helpful.
 
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