The other day while belting tunes in an unfamiliar karaoke bar I witnessed something really beautiful… straight men. Not that straight men are an unusual sight, but what was unusual about this sighting was that they were touching one another.
Let me give you a bit of context…
These men were obviously regulars at this bar, they knew the bartender and waitresses by name. They were also not strangers to one another. And yes, they had been drinking, but they did not show signs of excessive inebriation. But here is where the beauty came in, upon arrival they embraced one another. I am not talking about a quick shoulder hug and fist-bump, this was a full on embrace that lasted for more than 5 seconds.
There was nothing awkward about it, this appeared to be normal behavior for men that saw one another often. What I witnessed was pack behavior in the absence of alpha male bravado, and it was beautiful.
I was very struck by this for a couple of reasons, the first being I am an immersive observer of my environment. I read body language. I see behaviors and postures that are easily dismissed by most. I pay attention to everything people say, even when their lips are sealed.
The second, and most important, reason is I am very aware of the fact that a lot of men suffer from touch deprivation. We live in a culture where men are prohibited from touching others. As a result a lot of men present with aggressive behavior that may not necessarily be natural, but a product of their need to be touched.
This is also one of the reasons that a lot of men have a hard time with nonsexual touch. Because they are not touched often enough they are not able to differentiate between casual/conversational touch and sexual attraction. Lack of touch makes it difficult for them to read simple social cues, which can lead to frustration and sometimes inappropriate behavior.
Unlike the other 4 physical senses, touch is the only sense you cannot live without. Touch is not just essential to your mental health, it is required for optimal physical health as well. Touch is one of the most important components of your body’s nervous system.
Skin hunger is real and we are living amongst men whose skin is ravenous. Their desire to be touched is strong, yet they do not possess the language to express it. Even more than that they have been conditioned to believe that needing to be physically held is a weakness.
So how do we shift this reality? By providing more opportunities for nonsexual touch for the men in our immediate orbit. Hand shakes and pats on the back. We need to embrace our husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons, often. If we normalize the touch in our homes, we normalize it outside of our homes as well. We must continue to hug and touch our male children beyond the stage of individuation. And we must perpetuate an ongoing dialog about consent, which lays the foundation for mutual respect and boundaries.
This is not just an act of love, it is also a public service.
Imagine how drastically this could shift EVERYTHING! When aggression decreases peace increases. People who are touched regularly are happier and more content.
A well balanced diet of skin sensation creates more tolerance, acceptance, love, and compassion. And we can certainly use a lot more of that, don’t you agree?
More touch will also create more intimacy, which means deeper connection and greater harmony. Touch improves mental health and strengthens the immune system. The benefits are truly endless…
I hope that this letter plants a seed of intention within you.
May your heart be supple.
May you allow love to circulate in your world.
And may your arms be a standing invitation for connection.