Touch Starved

Being touch starved or having skin hunger is a real thing that has come out of our increasingly separate sociophysical cultural dynamic—especially in Western countries where friendly social touch is practiced less.

Touch starvation is a deep longing and aching desire for physical contact with another person.

A person who is touch starved feels hungry for touch, or feels deprived of having enough touch. Touch starvation is a common condition in the U.S. who as a country consistently ranks at the bottom of the list for touch-friendly nations (countries like France rank near the top). Research indicates that there is a correlation between how much touch an infant and adolescent receives and the amount of violence exhibited by adults—where there is more physical affection toward young children there are lower rates of adult physical violence.

Importance of Touch

Being touch starved produces a sense of alienation and isolation that has emotional, energetic, and physical symptoms. Besides the benefits to young children’s emotional and psychological development, affectionate touch boosts the immune system, it reduces stress, and produces more “wellbeing chemicals” in the body like oxytocin and serotonin.

Does it have to be sensual touch?

There are many types of positive touch: affectionate, compassionate, loving, and of course sensual-erotic touch. Touch can be unintentional or incidental like when standing close to someone, and it can be purposefully therapeutic, formal—like a handshake, and it can be casual—like: hugs, back pats, or holding hands in conversation.

Turns out that ANY positive touch is beneficial. From the more casual or incidental touching like knees touching while sitting next to someone or getting a pat on the back by a co-worker or a friend—to more intimate and sensual interactions like being massaged, or having your back scratched or feet rubbed—ALL are great for your mental, emotional, and physical health!

What is being touch starved like?

touch-starved-aloneWhen you’re touch starved, you feel sad or depressed about not having enough touch, you miss being touched and the idea of missing out on something important to you is prevalent in your mind.

A touch starved person can have a melancholy outlook that negatively effects their experiences with people. They have a consistent longing that reinforces the absence of what their body and emotions desire.

Touch starved people often: *

  • Feel more discontented with their life situation
  • Carry more stress and anxiety
  • Have body image and self esteem issues
  • React more aggressively to circumstances and situations
  • Have lower satisfaction in relationships
  • Have trouble sleeping
  • Experience sexual dysfunction

* 7 Signs You Might Be Suffering from Touch Deprivation

Why are People Starving for Touch?

There are many reasons for why people become touch starved. Life’s hectic pace and distractions of social media, entertainment, and career demands take their toll on our emotions and relationships. Couples, friends, or relatives, can become so entangled in their life routine and solving its problems that they don’t have time for touch or they don’t feel they have the energy for it.

In some cases, people can go without close and intimate relationships for a long time and so feel they don’t have the opportunity for positive or intimate touch. When someone is going through a health challenge or feels they aren’t attractive, it can cause them to avoid opportunities for touch.

When there has been a death of a spouse or life partner, grief can cause people to pull away and bottle up their energy. And, people who have been sexually abused or assaulted can feel averse to touch situations or have physical or emotional symptoms that prevent fully experiencing touch. 

The Touch Starved InCel

Absence of positive touch has been shown to contribute to more aggressive behaviors and reactions in social interaction. This seems to be bourne out by the recent “involuntary celibate” (aka “Incel“) phenomena.

Men who define themselves as unable to find a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one.

These men are desiring a specific type of touch within a special intimate relationship. It can be difficult to sympathize with their cause when their behavior is often confrontational, combative, and in some cases has been deadly. At the root of their state of mind is feeling touch deprived and demanding to get what they are missing.

This brings up an important distinction about being touch deprived, hungry, or starved —romantic/intimate/sexual touch vs friendly/social/platonic touch. In general, it seems that people need both in their life to feel happy or in a state of wellbeing. ‘Mom hugs’ cannot fulfill a person’s need for sensual full-body “melting” hugs that last 30 seconds or longer. And, all the cuddles or foot rubs in the world cannot satiate the desire for sexual touch experiences when someone feels deprived or left out of getting their need for personally intimate touch met.

Solutions to Touch Hunger

For friendly/social/platonic touch hunger. Here are some ways to get touch needs met in day to day scenarios, with friends and close associates:

  • Sit close and relax with people—enjoy being in each other’s personal space (ask to sit closer).
  • Greet people with a warm hug—and hug longer (again, where appropriate—ask).
  • Lounge in a cuddle instead of sitting separately while watching a movie or show.
  • Give, and receive, massages—formally and incidentally—by rubbing an arm or foot of someone you’re sitting with (or do it for yourself).

Touch Deprivation and Sexual Dysfunction 

Sexual dysfunction often includes touch deficient states resulting from emotional or awareness detachment, so that even if interacting by touch it’s possible to not be fully experiencing it. Sexual dysfunction can also impair the perception of touch and block or numb its reception. And, in some cases sexual dysfunction can create hypersensitivity and painful trigger points producing touch aversion/avoidance.

Erotic Enrichment for Touch Deprivation Hunger

For people who’ve heard something about sexual healing or “Tantra” (aka ‘neo-Tantra‘ as its known in the West) there is the Tantric Healing Erotic Enrichment solution. Erotic Enrichment is a method of igniting and engaging with sexual energy via spiritual/energetic consciousness in a way that invites erotic energy to build and flow for lengths of time.

  • Erotic Enrichment sessions provide an opportunity to explore being in your body with more presence and discovering the locations where touch dysfunction resides —especially with surrendering and releasing anything that prevents the experience of receiving touch more fully.
  • Erotic Enrichment sessions are therapeutic —and don’t require sexual intercourse to be effective.
  • Professionally facilitated Erotic Enrichment sessions satiate touch deprivation/hunger/starvation by deeply witnessing and honoring the person receiving the session.

Safe Sexual Healing book coverIn my book ‘Safe Sexual Healing‘ I share some of the reasons female clients have Erotic Enrichment sessions with me: (pg. 28)

  • A single woman without a partner has had health problems and hasn’t been in a relationship for a long time. She has gained a lot of weight and has worked hard to bring her body back to what feels better, losing weight and feeling more alive again. She is interested in erotic enrichment sessions to reconnect with her body and her sexual energy before seeking an intimate partner to have sex with. She is also interested in learning Tantric practices so when she begins a new relationship she can bring unique new skills to their lovemaking. Her interests are in experiencing and reconnecting with her sexual energy and her body from a new perspective in the safety of sessions with a facilitator who can remain objective and professional.
  • A woman is going through major life shifts in her relationship, workplace, and living situation and seeks to come back to herself by discovering her Eros at a deeper, more illuminated level. Her emotions and sexual energy has been shut down for many hears and she wants to heal her issues in a safe context with a man who can be present and show up for her and help her discover more of who she is while facilitating her healing and releasing of the issues which have shut her down.
  • A woman’s husband has died a few years ago. She has grieved his loss and is now ready for a relationship again. She wants to prepare herself to be with a man’s energy and be open to his touch in a safe setting. She also knows that there is likely more to heal and grieve as she opens up to her sexual energy once again and wants to do that with someone who knows how to hold the space and support her through it.

Whether you’ve not been in a relationship, or sexual, in a long time and you want to prepare to be with a man’s energy and open to being touched, or you’ve experienced health issues or body image challenges, or you’re interested in learning how to enhance your sexual experience (i.e. Tantric sex practices) or you’re just interested in experiencing and reconnecting with your sexual energy and your body in a new way to discover your Eros at a deeper more illuminated level—Erotic Enrichment sessions are a great resource.

What Happens in an Erotic Enrichment Session?

From my book Safe Sexual Healing: (pg. 27)

“Erotic enrichment sessions exercise sexual energy and often focus on sensual embodiment for maximum integration and fluency of the client’s body-mind-emotion connection.

One common form of erotic enrichment session is known as a full body sensual massage (FBSM) which often includes a “happy ending”—orgasm. In these sessions, the client receives a full body massage that usually includes stimulation of the pleasure areas of the body. Sensual massage sessions are often focused on improving the client’s ability to sensually receive and feel while allowing their sexual energy to run un-distracted by reciprocal pleasuring.”

In my sessions, I would encourage energetic awareness, presence, and deep emotional/physical relaxation—letting go of tension and stress and showing up more fully within the body’s experience. To create this state, in my sessions I included: harmonizing breathing, eye-gazing presence, erotic dance co-movement, and full body sensual massage and sensual Reiki energy healing.

Erotic Enrichment session treatments such as these produce an optimum state of relaxed, erotic excitation that deepens touch awareness and releases emotional and physical baggage, restoring sensual energy flow that is revitalizing. 

My clients have mostly been middle-aged women business professionals in their 40s to 60s who were seeking to reconnect with their sensual body awareness and feel more sexually empowered by satiating their touch deprivation/hunger/starvation needs. I’ve also had the privilege to work with women who have grieved the loss of a spouse and are ready for a safe experience with opening to their sexuality again—while honoring their loss and knowing there will likely be more grieving to come from that process. And still, wanting someone experienced with holding that tender space and able to provide healing treatment that facilitates emotional release and letting go/clearing of blocked or stuck energy and unreleased grief. These sessions have a gentle, sensual empowerment, healing-restorative, therapeutic feel and purpose.

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Originally posted on September 29, 2019 @ 11:16 am

Sunyata Satchitananda

Sunyata is a Spiritual Counselor, Certified Tantric Healer and Author of "Safe Sexual Healing: a Guidebook for Healers and Clients." Ordained Minister (1980), Certified Tantric Healer (2007), Reiki Master (2009). Sunyata specializes in helping men and women achieve deep transformation, spiritual growth, sacred sexuality, heal from sexual abuse and emotional trauma, and develop a greater, deeper intimacy and connection with their partner.


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