Sunday, March 4, 2012

Physical Affection

I read webcomics. I admit it. I'm a total nerd. Now go read today's Questionable Content, and then come back and read this.

When I was in college and high school, I was much, much more physically affectionate with my friends than I am now. And I miss it, I miss it a lot. Granted, I get pretty much all my cuddling, hand-holding, leaning-on needs met by JD, but I still miss how it seemed to amplify the closeness of friends.

I'm a tactile person, I guess. I enjoy the textures of soft clothing, the feel of those gritty exfoliating creams you use on your hands, walking in the sand on a dry, clean beach, and the springy feel of summer grass under your feet. With friends, I find myself wanting to touch them-- just touch their arm when speaking, link arms when walking, and lean on them when watching a movie. Likewise, when I felt uncomfortable with a person, I tried to maintain some element of space, touch them as little as possible, and tended to be very stiff. I guess my body language is just as clear and true as my red-faced, stuttering inability to lie.

When I was younger, though not even by that much, my girl friends were also very affectionate. In our first years of college, Barbie and I would walk around campus occasionally linking arms or even holding hands. One of our roommates junior year would occasionally have a girl friend spend the night, just for the cuddling and safety aspect (both girls also had boyfriends, I think). When watching movies,my friends and I would all sit close together, half draping on each other. We were comfortable with each other and with ourselves, and didn't really think there were any implications beyond just that we were friends and cared for each other.

Now-- now that we're all in our mid-to-late-twenties, there's less of that. Hugs on greeting and leaving still exist, but people seem more physically distant. I'm not sure why it stopped-- is it that it's impossible to be as close and open with your post-college friends? Is it that we're aging, and thinking more with our logic bits? Do we think it's inappropriate, and that we ought to be formal, and that others will reject us if we each out?

Actually-- do other people even care? Does anyone else miss the physical aspects that purely platonic relationships used to have, or is this something unique to me? I personally don't initiate much physical conduct with my friends because, for some reason, I have the perception it won't be well received. That it will be... weird. that people just value their own space too much.

Maybe they do. Maybe they don't. But we could all use more hugs. I just... don't want to weird anyone out by being the kiddo to initiate it.


Barbara said...


I was JUST talking to Christie about this not even an hour ago!! What a fantastic post, haha! I was telling her how I love hugging people... I just do - and I said that most people smell good too, lol. I LOVE that Questionable Content because it is SO YOU, haha.

Wow, we have esp. I miss the physical closeness we and our friends had in college. Where did it go? It was just so... simple and joyous, you know?

Big Virtual Hug,

Barbie :-)

Leigh said...

I can think of a couple reasons that physical closeness has gone away. One, you're never much closer with people than in college when you're living together--if you see people slogging to and from the shower, it's not as big a deal to hop in bed and cuddle with them. Secondly, and this is difficult to articulate, but I think that personal boundaries get more etched in stone the more formal your relationships become. Right now I have a circle of friends that I mostly see in public--the opportunities to snuggle up just aren't there, and even when they are, I'm usually with Brad, so I'm snuggling with him. The casual "hop in bed and talk about your day" just doesn't happen anymore.