Skin Hunger: 3 Compelling Ways to Overcome Loneliness
Despite how advanced technologies have become and the vast amount of methods to communicate with someone from across the world, more people are lonelier than they ever were before.
Someone may have over a thousand Facebook friends but only one real friend they could speak to regarding personal issues. You might be suffering from depression and feel a strange emptiness in your heart.
Perhaps you feel like there’s something missing in your life and you can’t concentrate on anything else because of it. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor. Anyone can suffer from depression. Though there can be a variety of reasons, a common symptom I’ve recently noticed was skin hunger.
What is Skin Hunger?
Such as how people need natural resources such as air, food, and water to function properly, a common resource that people often overlook is skin contact. They neglect the importance of giving someone a hug, holding someone’s hand, or giving them a kiss.
But such as anyone who neglects food and water, a lack of skin contact changes their behavior overtime. They develop strange behaviors such as an increased in anxiety and depressive thoughts.
Being touched is an essential need because it brings forth an emotional and physical sensation they can’t receive from anything else. Sure, you won’t immediately die if you were deprived of human contact or was trapped on an island for several years. Unlike hunger, a lack of touch isn’t a basic need for survival. But it can affect anyone’s health if deprived for too long.
In Harry Harlow’s study, he discovered newborn monkeys who were taken away from their biological mother had always preferred the surrogates that lacked the proper nourishment, but was made of soft clothes. The baby monkeys seldom choose the surrogate that did have the proper nourishment, but was made of wires and steel.
As expected, the monkeys desire for comfort always exceeded the need for food. As for humans, in WWII, babies who were deprived of human contact in orphanages were often known to die shortly.
Of course, as we grow older, the lack of human contact is less likely to send us to our deaths. It’s during those times that we actually seek for ways to become independent and up to a degree, resist human contact. But the biggest problem that occurs when dealing with skin hunger is receiving a sense of feeling unlovable.
When you lack a sense of touch, you start to feel worthless and undeserving of human contact. You no longer feel connected to your environment and even develop anti social behaviors. You develop a fear to form new relationships because of the possibilities of losing them one day.
I understand that without a sense of human contact or affection, you start to foster irrational beliefs that you’re not good enough for anyone. Your self-esteem plummets and your mentality attacks itself with false beliefs. You tell yourself you don’t deserve a girlfriend or boyfriend. You believe it’s impossible to find someone who’s willing to accept you for the way you are.
As humans, we all have a natural need to be touched, felt, heard, and be paid attention to. Without those needs being periodically fulfilled, you feel more unenthusiastic and depressed. Then, as you spend more time alone, your negative moods send other people away and make it difficult for others to get close to you.
Even couples who are married are bound to suffer from skin hunger because there’s a lack of genuine affection. A husband may pay more attention to his career than he does to his wife. A wife may be too concerned with what’s going on with her friends life rather her husband’s.
A mother who has children can partially use them to fulfill those human contact needs, but they will still yearn for an adult intimacy to completely fulfill their skin hunger. They need someone who’s willing to cuddle with them at night, comfort them when they’re down, and kiss them when they’re alone.
A team of researchers and social scientists even discovered that among the countries in the world, the United States and Great Britain are the ones suffering from skin hunger the most. While on the other hand, the countries least affected by skin hunger are Greece, France, Italy, and Spain.
Even in the Mediterranean, it’s normal for people to kiss and hug each other upon each greeting and departure. At an early age, many Americans are taught to restrain themselves from touching another person in fear of sexual assault and encouraged to stay in their own bubble. Even as I traveled to other countries in Africa, strangers were always willing to put their arm around me and break me out of my own personal space.
“Touch. It is touch that is the deadliest enemy of chastity, loyalty, monogamy, gentility with its codes and conventions and restraints. By touch we are betrayed and betray others … an accidental brushing of shoulders or touching of hands … hands laid on shoulders in a gesture of comfort that lies like a thief, that takes, not gives, that wants, not offers, that awakes, not pacifies. When one flesh is waiting, there is electricity in the merest contact.”
― Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose
Dr. Tiffany Field, who spent many years studying the benefits of human touch, explains the benefits from simply human contact. She goes on into explaining that:
“Many forms of touch can help reduce pain, anxiety, depression and aggressive behavior…promote immune function and healing…lower heart rate and blood pressure…and improve air flow in asthmatics. All this, and no drug side affects!”
In another study she published, her and her colleagues find out how a child’s aggression increases when a lack of skin hunger comes into play. Children whose parents had shown them less affectionate behaviors were bound to grow up more verbally aggressive than adolescents who received more affectionate treatments in their childhood. She explains how such as animals with touch deprivation eventually pick up violent behaviors, humans are destined to follow the same consequences.
Ways to Satisfy Skin Hunger
1.Fill time in Your Day to Touch Someone
Dr. Fields goes on into explaining that touching is beneficial for both parties. She performed a case study where 20 children with leukemia were given daily massages by their parents. By one month, the parents’ moods had decreased and the children’s health increased.
Touching someone doesn’t only provide them with the sweet benefits of human contact, but yourself as well. Find the time to hug your friends, family, or love ones more often than you do now. Take the time to hug your children before they go to school. Shake more people hands upon meetups. Give your wife a massage at night or even schedule one for yourself.
Touch anyone who’s in your life in anyway possible (excluding sexual harassment) to form a connection with them. You may not feel comfortable doing so nor will you probably want to, but it takes a conscious effort to get out of your bubble and overcome your depression.
It takes actively reaching out to someone who’s nearby and offering a hand despite what your negative emotions are telling you. Because underneath those piles of self-doubts is a person crying for affection and attention.
2. Arrange for a Cuddle Buddy
A common effect I noticed among males and females was their pattern of behavior after a long period of no human contact. Whether they suffered from a bad breakup or didn’t know how to find a partner for themselves, both genders reacted differently.
For males, they became adversely aggressive and negative. Oftentimes, they were more likely to push away other females from their life with their negative energy. As a result, they spent a majority of their time alone, continuously searching for anyone to feed them the emotional touch they craved for.
As for females, though their aggression didn’t raise to the same level, they became more needy towards men and often caught themselves jumping into dangerous situations. They developed bad tendencies on who to have sexual relations with and committed themselves to abusive relationships.
This led to a simple solution that seemed crazy at the time, but actually helped many people in the long run. The idea was arranging a cuddle buddy with someone they were comfortable with so they could fulfill that necessary role in their head. Cuddle buddies work as a fantastic solution for those only seeking human contact because it brings forth a connection you can’t receive with one night stands, masturbation, or drugs.
Get in touch with an old friend from your phone book or on Facebook and propose a cuddle session that can only reach a certain boundary. The goal is to only receive an affectionate touch without turning it into anything sexual.
If it helps, compare it to going out to eat with someone or watching a movie. Arrange a cuddle session to watch a movie, nap time, or reading a magazine. Don’t insinuate anything sexual. Make it natural to avoid any awkwardness that might arise in the beginning.
Don’t be afraid of making this proposal with an ex either. It doesn’t take a solid relationship to form a cuddle buddy. To avoid making wrongful decisions and appearing to be needy, the cuddle buddy system keeps your mind balanced and in top functional order.
There’s a less chance of you making regretful decisions by forming a relationship with someone for the mere sake of not wanting to be alone. Your mind remains sharp so when you do decide to speak to someone, it won’t seem as difficult as it would have been if you spent your time alone.
3. Embrace the Comfort of Others
A negative habit we seem to form after being alone for so long is assuming we don’t need people for our survival. We want to believe we don’t need anyone to avoid the accusation of appearing to be weak or needy. You might even go as far as to push yourself further away from people to avoid being called those names.
But don’t push other people away from you because of those irrational beliefs. We need people in our lives despite what we tell ourselves. There might be situations where you dealt with bad rejections and distasteful breakups but don’t develop the belief that it’s okay to be entirely alone.
One of the hardest things to do when you’re dealing with this mindset is to open up your heart to someone, knowing there’s a chance they could break it. It certainly happened to me on more than one occasion.
The only thing you can do is accept the outcome and embrace whoever comes into your life. That way, you form more relationships rather than throw them in the toilet. You open up more chances for people to provide you with human contact as you do the same for them.
In final thought…
Suffering from skin hunger can affect your entire attitude because it manipulates your thoughts and behaviors. The longer you restrain from human contact, the more you pick up depressive habits and anxiety alerts. You make false assumptions about why being alone is suited for you and therefore, increases the duration of your pain.
That’s why it takes forceful thoughts and actions to incorporate these three habits into your life. Rather than accepting your situation and remaining alone, pick yourself up and start acting.
Look for ways to start new relationships. Call old friends and find ways to get back in touch with them. The beginning process may seem difficult and perhaps irritating, but the persistence will provide you with the feelings you’ve been searching for.
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