Why Don’T I Like To Be Touched
Some people dislike touch because of traumas they experienced in their past. Others are hypersensitive and find physical contact to be uncomfortable or even distressing. Maybe you’re a person who finds it difficult to connect with others emotionally without feeling like your boundaries have been violated, or perhaps you’re someone who doesn’t feel safe expressing certain emotions through words.
You may know yourself well enough to understand why you don’t enjoy being touched, but if there’s an area where you’d really benefit from some guidance, look no further than this article. In this article, we’ll explore what happens when someone touches us without our permission, how trauma can affect our response to touching, and how understanding and healing our trauma might help improve our overall comfort level around touch.
Touch is something most of us take for granted — yet many of us find it hard to accept. If you’ve ever had a massage at a spa or enjoyed getting a manicure from a nail technician, then you’ve likely noticed that not everyone enjoys receiving professional attention. Why? Well, sometimes people simply aren’t comfortable with having their bodies exposed to strangers. They may prefer instead to get their nails done by a friend or family member, or maybe they just don’t want anyone else handling them intimately. It could also be that they’re too shy to ask for things that make them feel good. Or maybe they’re more concerned about feeling awkward or out of control. Whatever the reason, one thing is clear: Many people are uncomfortable with sharing parts of themselves with others.
While most people would agree that it feels nice to receive affectionate gestures and pats on the back, not everyone wants to share those moments with a complete stranger. We all need connection, which often means sharing intimate details of ourselves with another person. Whether you’re gay or straight, transgender or cisgender (meaning born into the gender assigned to you at birth), you may have shared intimacies only with loved ones before. But now you may be wondering whether you should trust a random man or woman with such personal information. You may worry that he or she won’t respect your boundaries, or worse, that they’ll use you for sex. That’s called sexual assault, and it’s never okay. Even if you’re not interested in sleeping with someone, you shouldn’t let him or her violate your body against your will.
We all experience discomfort when we’re forced to reveal our innermost thoughts, feelings and desires to someone else. When we do share those details, however, we’re opening up a dialogue between two people that allows for healthy communication. A therapist, healer or trusted confidant can open that door for us and provide space for us to work through our fears and anxieties. This mutual exchange leads to intimacy, which is crucial for establishing healthy relationships.
Let’s say you’re suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and you’ve come to terms with the fact that you were sexually abused as a child. Perhaps you’re able to talk to friends and family members about the abuse, which helps you process your pain. But now imagine talking to a therapist or counselor about it. The idea of discussing such a sensitive topic might seem daunting; after all, you’re afraid of reliving the memories again. And you may fear that the therapist won’t listen to you without judging you or making fun of you. However, finding a therapist who understands PTSD and has compassion can help put your mind at ease. Your therapist can guide you through a variety of techniques to help you release emotional tension and move beyond your trauma. While you may still be apprehensive about revealing your story, knowing that someone actually cares about helping you makes all the difference.
If your trauma isn’t related to sexual abuse, consider talking to a trusted friend or family member about your desire to stop allowing men to touch you. Explain your concerns and ask questions about his motives. Is he trying to express love? Does he want to show affection in order to establish a deeper relationship with you? Has he expressed interest in dating you romantically? He may be doing nothing wrong, and you may realize that you’re overreacting. On the other hand, he may be inappropriate and you may decide that it’s best to end the interaction. Either way, you deserve to feel respected and cared for, regardless of whether you choose to reciprocate that sentiment.
Trauma can also play a role in how we respond to touch. Let’s say you grew up believing that you weren’t lovable or worthy of love. As an adult, you may find it stressful to interact with romantic partners, especially when you’re anxious about rejection. Touching someone when you’re nervous, angry or overwhelmed can trigger painful memories, so learning how to communicate better can help you avoid these situations altogether. For instance, if you can tell that a romantic partner is impatient or frustrated, try asking him or her to wait until you can calm down. Tell him or her that you need a few minutes alone to collect your thoughts. Then give your significant other a chance to leave while you regroup.
In addition to dealing with traumatic experiences, we’re also susceptible to developing sensitivities around touch. People with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) struggle to tolerate physical closeness, especially during times of heightened anxiety. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders found that children and adults on the autism spectrum disliked being hugged, held or kissed — even in private settings, such as doctor’s offices and restaurants. One participant explained that “it was really bad,” adding, “I’m not going to hug my teacher.” Another said, “It hurts me so much”.
Children and adults with ASDs typically exhibit sensory issues, including sensitivity to sound, light and movement, among others. Physical proximity is particularly challenging for people with autism, since they may perceive hugs and kisses as acts of aggression or dominance. Some individuals on the autism spectrum dislike being touched on the head, neck and shoulders, while others may complain of headaches after being hugged. Because some people with ASDs refuse to participate in therapy sessions, it’s important to identify ways for kids with autism to develop social skills outside of school hours.
Sensitivities around touch can stem from several factors, including neurological differences, genetic predispositions, childhood trauma and medical conditions. There may be no known cause for your particular aversion to touch, but if you suspect that trauma plays a part in your reaction, seek the assistance of a trained therapist or counselor.
A 2012 study showed that autistic boys tend to prefer same sex interactions. Researchers believe that boys who are attracted to males may have trouble relating to girls due to their own lack of social skills.
Author’s Note: What Happens When Someone Tries To Touch Me Without My Permission.
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