We’ve forgotten how to communicate through touch. Sure, we give others an occasional hug and a kiss on the cheek, but new technology has affected how we relate to people. We’re under the impression that we’re more connected to each other but it’s not true: a screen will never be able to replace a touch on the hand or a pat on the back. This is worrisome since touch is the first sense we used to communicate and it’s the one we lack to do better today.
1. Touch is part of how humans were made to communicate.
Touch is intrinsically part of the way humans are designed to communicate. It’s the first sense we use to do so and it can be considered our first real language. Just ask any mom how sometimes touching her pregnant belly could encourage kicks from her baby.
The idea that nonverbal communication, such as posture and looks, is essential for understanding each other is not new. However, only recently has a study proven that we can interpret emotions from other kinds of nonverbal communication like touch. We’re born knowing how to “speak touch” and using this language not only lets you express more than one emotion at a time, like gratitude, pride, and satisfaction; but touching another person also makes their message more clear.
2. It’s crucial for a healthy relationship to thrive.
Using touch in a relationship is vital to communicate emotions to foster a connection, satisfaction, happiness, and a sense of safety and belonging. The bond can become so strong that scientists have found that couples only need to hold hands to synchronize their brain waves, heartbeats, breathing, and the easing of pain.
Furthermore, touch is so powerful that it can induce biological effects on your partner. It causes the brain to release oxytocin, also known as the hormone of love, which is a substance that makes you feel happy, satisfied, and in love.
3. Touch is so important for babies, it’s literally a matter of life and death.
Even when all their basic needs like food, rest, and diaper changing are met, research shows babies who are daily deprived of touch can die. If the mother, father, or any other adult in the absence of the parent doesn’t hug, kiss, hold and cuddle the baby for long enough, their development and mental health can be affected and ultimately, their lives. This may be one fact that can prove how vital touch is for human beings.
Scientists know touch is transcendent to healthy physical, emotional, and mental development. Some believe that our need for touch is connected to our need for love. It would have been a survival tool we developed during evolution to help us stay alive.
4. It’s key to our mental health.
Because we’re social animals, our basic needs require touch. The majority of our social interactions are accompanied by a kind of touch like a pat on the back, a handshake, a hug, or a greeting kiss, depending on the culture. They help develop a relationship of trust. That’s the reason why loneliness is not only considered a lack of social interaction with people but also of physical interaction.
Touch helps us become conscious of our personal and physical boundaries, but letting someone come through those boundaries allows familiarity to emerge and lets us connect with friends and lovers.
5. It could also be critical for our physical health.
With so many physical treatments at your disposal that don’t result in expensive medical bills, it’s easy to see why many people are opting for traditional remedies. It could be an appointment for acupuncture or a session of chiropractic massage. But the truth is, apart from the lower price, these treatments work because many of them involve touch.
Touch has long been known in Chinese and Indian cultures, for example, to be a treatment for healing. Today, medical research is starting to prove how powerful it can be. Examples array from a study that explored how touch can be a way of decreasing pain in cancer patients to another that investigated how touch reduces anxiety in patients with dementia.
6. It makes you and your brain happy.
Because our brain releases oxytocin when we allow someone to touch us, we experience the feeling of happiness. The chemical provokes a decrease in blood pressure and lowers the levels of norepinephrine, a stress hormone, and as a result, we feel calm and satisfied. Therefore, people who interact more frequently by using touch have higher levels of oxytocin and in return, a higher degree of well-being.
7. It makes things more real.
Touch manifests things as more real to us than any sense. It’s a direct way to understand our surroundings. In cases where we find ourselves doubting our surroundings or our senses, we instantly appeal to touch because we trust it more to show us what reality is like. This “Thomas Effect” and its name was coined by the example of the apostle, Thomas who asked to touch Jesus’ wounds to make sure the man he was seeing was, in fact, Jesus.
Not only do we have more confidence in perceiving the reality of our environment, but also in that of ourselves and our social relations, like how close we are to a friend.
8. Touch is a trick we use to convince someone of something.
A study revealed that we are more prone to help a stranger if a touch complements the request. Other research shows that a waiter receives higher tips in a restaurant if they slightly touch the customer’s shoulder during the transaction.
That’s because touch can be used to increase sincerity and trustworthiness, so next time you need some help or want to close a sale, try politely touching the other person. You might convince them to do what you want!
Do you believe we can someday recover touch in this digital age? Would you like to see, hug, and kiss your friends more often after reading this? Tell us in the comment section!